Créme Fraîche (Bellwether Farms)
Family owned and operated by the Callahan family, Bellwether Farms is located in the rolling hills of Sonoma County, about an hour north of San Francisco and a few miles from the Pacific Ocean. Having raised a family and had a career as a nurse, in the early 1990's the Callahans made the decision to change direction, starting a sheep farm. After initially focusing on lamb production, the Callahans were encouraged to develop their sheep into a milking herd. This, combined with a trip to Italy where they had the opportunity to taste many local sheep's milk cheeses inspired them to start to experiment with cheesemaking. The sheep at Bellwether Farm consist mainly of East Friesian ewes. The ewes give birth to between one and three lambs each year and the lambs stay with their mother for 45 days before the ewe joins the milking line. Each ewe gives, on average, slightly less than one gallon a day and they are milked for eight months before the cycle begins again. The sheep graze freely year round in addition to being given grain and alfalfa as necessary. Cindy's Callahan son Liam oversees cheese production while his wife Diana manages the office and Cindy focuses on taking care of the sheep. In addition to making a range of sheep's milk cheeses, the Callahans also buy in local Jersey cow's milk in order to make a range of cow's milk cheeses. Renowned for its rich, buttery characteristics, Jersey milk has a higher fat and protein content than most milks, which gives the cheeses a wonderfully rich, balanced flavor and creamy mouthfeel.
Bellwether’s Créme Fraîche is a classic French-style cultured cream with a rich, nutty flavor and an appealing tart edge. A basic pantry item traditionally found in French cooking, this ingredient has spread throughout America’s kitchens.
Créme Fraîche is very versatile. With its depth and richness it can be used it in place of sour cream. Mix into creamy salad dressings, spoon a dollop onto hearty soups or even use as a topping for fruit or cakes.