Cream is indispensable in desserts, ice cream and many soups and sauces, and coffee wouldn't be the same without it.
- To be called cream, a product must contain at least 18% milkfat.
- Cream naturally separates from milk because its fat is less dense than fluid milk. In mechanical cream production, centrifuge separators force the cream to the surface of milk during spinning.
- Once separated, most cream is pasteurized.
- In the production of whipped cream, the pressurized gas or nitrous oxide found in aerosol cans or small replaceable canisters helps produce a light, fluffy product.
Cream Storage and Handling
- Store cream in a refrigerator set at 38°–40°F in the container in which it was sold.
- The “sell by” date stamped on cream containers tells you how long the retail store can keep the product for sale on the shelf.
- Ultrapasteurized cream keeps several weeks longer, as indicated by the stamped date. Once opened, handle ultrapasteurized cream as you would pasteurized cream.
- To ensure freshness, do not return unused light cream or half-and-half to its original container.
- Freezing is not recommended for unwhipped cream; once whipped, place dollops on waxed paper and then freeze.
- Cream brings a smooth, luxurious mouthfeel to soups, sauces, baked goods and desserts.
- To avoid curdling in hot dishes, add cream as late in the preparation as possible, heating gradually and stirring gently. The acid in citrus, wine and even coffee can curdle cream, especially at high temperatures.
- Brush heavy cream onto the surface of pastries and breads for a rich, golden crust.
- When whipping, choose a cream that’s high in fat for best results—heavy whipping cream increases more in volume than light whipping cream does.
- Chill the cream, bowl and beaters well to promote successful whipping.
- Add other ingredients, such as sugar or vanilla, near the end of whipping.
- Overwhipping can cause the cream to turn into butter.