What is Cream? The types and uses in cooking

Cream

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Cream is a rich and creamy ingredient that adds a luxurious touch to many dishes.
It comes in different forms, each with its own unique characteristics and uses.

Whether you’re whipping it up for a dessert or adding it to a savory sauce, understanding the different types of cream and how to use them can elevate your culinary creations to new heights.
If you are reading a recipe that is telling you to “Cream the ingredients”, it is referring to Creaming.

What is Cream?

What is cream | Cream definition cookingIn dairy products, cream is the fatty part of milk that rises to the top when milk is left to stand.
As a dairy product it is made by separating the fat from milk.
It has a high fat content, which gives it a rich and creamy texture.

Cream is typically sold in different grades depending on its fat content.

Heavy cream has the highest fat content, followed by whipping cream, light cream, and half-and-half. Cream is often used in cooking and baking, as well as in beverages like coffee and tea.

Cream Types and Their Uses in Cooking

Cream used in cooking can vary in fat content and how it has been treated.
Different types of cream are categorized based on these factors, and there are often regulations in place to ensure consistency and quality.

Australia and New Zealand.

In Australia and New Zealand, cream is defined as a milk product that is rich in fat and obtained through the separation of milk.

According to the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, cream sold without any further specification must contain a minimum of 350 g/kg (35%) milk fat.

Manufacturers labels may distinguish between different fat contents, a general guideline is as follows:

Cream types in Australia and New Zealand

NameFat ContentMain Uses
Extra light (or ‘lite’)12–12.5%Extra light (or ‘lite’) cream is a type of cream that has a lower fat content compared to regular cream.

It is commonly used as a lighter alternative in recipes that call for heavy cream or whipping cream.
It can be used in sauces, soups, desserts, and coffee.

Light (or ‘lite’)18–20%Light cream, also known as “lite” cream, is commonly used as a lower-fat alternative to heavy cream.

It can be used in various recipes such as soups, sauces, and desserts to add a creamy texture without the high fat content.

Thickened cream35–36.5%Thickened cream is commonly used in baking and cooking to add richness and creaminess to dishes.
It is often used in desserts, sauces, soups, and creamy pasta dishes.
It can also be whipped and used as a topping for desserts or hot beverages.
Cream>= 35%Cream is a versatile ingredient that is used in a variety of ways in cooking and baking.
It can be used to add richness and creaminess to sauces, soups, and desserts.

It can also be whipped to create a light and fluffy topping for desserts or used as a base for ice cream.
Additionally, cream can be used in coffee or tea as a creamy and flavorful addition.

Double cream48–60%Double cream is a rich and indulgent dairy product that is commonly used in desserts, sauces, and toppings.
It has a high fat content, which makes it perfect for adding richness and creaminess to dishes.

Some popular uses for double cream include whipping it to make whipped cream, adding it to soups and sauces for a velvety texture, and using it as a topping for desserts like pies and cakes.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, these types of cream are produced.
Fat content must meet the Food Labelling Regulations 1996.

Cream types in United Kingdom

NameMinimum milk fatMain Uses
Clotted cream55%Clotted cream is known for its thick and luxurious texture, is a beloved component of a traditional cream tea.

It is typically spread onto freshly baked scones, adding a rich and creamy element to this classic treat.

Extra-thick double cream12–48%Extra-thick double cream is commonly used as a topping for desserts, such as cakes, pies, and fruit.

It can also be used to make whipped cream or added to sauces and soups to add richness and creaminess.

Double cream48%Double cream whips easily and produces heavy whipped cream for puddings and desserts.
Whipping cream35%Whipping cream is known for its ability to be whipped easily and for producing a lighter and fluffier whipped cream compared to double cream.
Whipped cream35%Whipped cream is a versatile and delicious topping that can be used to add a touch of sweetness and creaminess to a variety of desserts.

It is commonly used to decorate cakes, add a finishing touch to ice cream sundaes, and enhance the flavor of fresh fruit.

Sterilized cream23%Sterilized cream is a type of cream that has been heated to a high temperature to kill any bacteria or microorganisms.

It is commonly used in baking and cooking, as well as in the production of certain dairy products.
It has a longer shelf life compared to regular cream and can be stored at room temperature until opened.

Cream or single cream18%Single cream, also known as light cream, is commonly used in cooking and baking.
It is often added to sauces, soups, and desserts to add richness and creaminess.

It can also be whipped and used as a topping for desserts or added to coffee or tea.

Extra-thick single cream18%Extra-thick single cream is commonly used as a topping for desserts, such as cakes, pies, and fruit salads.

It can also be used to add richness and creaminess to sauces, soups, and hot beverages like coffee or hot chocolate.

Sterilized half cream12%Sterilized half cream is commonly used as a dairy product for cooking and baking.

It can be used as a substitute for regular cream in recipes to add richness and creaminess to dishes.
It is often used in sauces, soups, desserts, and coffee.

Half cream12%Half cream, also known as half-and-half, is a dairy product that is a mixture of equal parts whole milk and light cream.

It is commonly used as a creamer for coffee or tea, as well as a topping for desserts, fruits, and baked goods.
It can also be used in recipes that call for cream to add richness and creaminess without being as heavy as heavy cream.

United States

Not all grades are defined by all jurisdictions, and the exact fat content ranges vary.
The figures in the table, except for “manufacturer’s cream”, are based on the Code of Federal Regulations.
In the United States, cream is usually sold as:

Cream types in United States

NameFat ContentMain Uses
Half and half10.5-18%Half-and-half, is a dairy product that is a mixture of equal parts whole milk and light cream.

It is commonly used as a creamer for coffee or tea, and can also be used in recipes that call for cream but require a lighter consistency.
It is often used in baking, sauces, and soups to add richness and creaminess without being too heavy.

Light cream12–12.5%Light cream is commonly used as a topping for desserts, in coffee or tea, and as an ingredient in sauces, soups, and baked goods.

It has a lower fat content compared to heavy cream, making it a lighter option for cooking and baking.

Whipping cream30-36%Whipping cream is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of sweet and savory dishes.

It is commonly used to make whipped cream for desserts like pies, cakes, and hot chocolate.
It can also be added to soups, sauces, and pasta dishes to add richness and creaminess.

Additionally, whipping cream can be used to make homemade ice cream, creamy salad dressings, and decadent milkshakes.

Heavy (whipping) creamHeavy whipping cream is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes.

It is commonly used to make whipped cream, as well as in baking, sauces, soups, and desserts.

It adds richness and creaminess to dishes and can be a key ingredient in creating creamy textures and flavours.

Manufacturer’s creamManufacturer’s cream At least 40% Used in commercial and professional used in food processing and as an ingredient in certain recipes. Not generally available at retail until recently.

Canada

In Canada, the definitions and characteristics of cream are similar to those in the United States.
However, there is a difference in the term “light cream,” which refers to a very low-fat cream with around 5 or 6 percent butterfat.

The specific characteristics of cream products are generally consistent across Canada, but the names may vary based on geographic location, language, and the manufacturer.
For example, “coffee cream” can have a butterfat content of either 10 or 18 percent, and “half-and-half” (known as “crème légère” in French) can range from 3 to 10 percent, depending on the location and brand.

Canadian, cream is subject to regulations that allow for the inclusion of certain additives and stabilizers.
These additives can include skim milk powder, glucose solids, calcium sulphate, and xanthan gum, among others.

The percentage of milk fat in canned cream must be clearly labeled on the packaging.

Cream types in Canada

NameFat ContentDescription and Uses
Manufacturing cream40%Canadian Manufacturing Cream is a versatile product that can be used for various purposes in commercial production.
It is commonly used in cooking and baking as a thickening agent for sauces, soups, and desserts. It can also be used as a base for making homemade ice cream or whipped cream.

Crème fraîche is also 40–45% but is an acidified cultured product rather than sweet cream.

Whipping cream33–36%In Canada, whipping cream is commonly referred to as cooking or “thick” cream with a fat content of 35% and added stabilizers.
It is important to note that heavy cream must have a fat content of at least 36%.

In Francophone areas, whipping cream is known as crème à fouetter 35% for general use and crème à cuisson 35%, crème à l’ancienne 35%, or crème épaisse 35% for cooking purposes.

This type of cream can be whipped into a creamy and smooth topping that is commonly used for pastries, fresh fruits, desserts, hot cocoa, and more.
The cooking version of whipping cream is specifically formulated to resist breaking when heated, making it suitable for use in sauces and other cooked dishes.

Table cream15–18%In Canada, table cream is also referred to as cooking or “thick” cream.
It typically contains 15% milk fat and may have added stabilizers.

In French-speaking areas, it may be called crème de table 15% or crème à café 18% for use in coffee, and crème champêtre 15%, crème campagnarde (country cream) 15%, or crème épaisse 15% for cooking purposes.

Table cream is commonly used as a rich whitener for coffee and is also ideal for adding to soups, sauces, and veloutés.
It can be used as a garnish for fruit and desserts. The cooking version of table cream is specifically formulated to resist breaking when heated.

Half and half10%In Canada, half and half is also known as cereal cream.
It falls under the category of light cream and has the highest butterfat content.

In French-speaking areas, it is referred to as “crème à café” at 10% fat content, and sometimes as “crème légère” at 10% fat content as well.

Half and half is essentially a 50/50 blend of table cream, which has a fat content of 16-18%, and whole milk, which has a fat content of 3.25%.
This is why it is commonly referred to as “half and half” in English. It is often poured over hot cereal as a garnish and is also ideal for making sauces for vegetables, fish, meat, poultry, and pasta. Additionally, it can be used in cream soups.

Light cream3–10%In French-speaking areas of Canada, light cream is referred to as “mélange de lait et de crème pour café 5%”, “Crémette™ 5%”, or “crème légère 3% to 10%”.

It is a mixture of milk and cream, with a fat content of 3% to 10%. This type of cream is comparable to the richness of Guernsey or Jersey milk, but with a lower fat content.

It is commonly used as a lighter alternative to table cream in coffee.

Integrating Cream Into Recipes.

Integrating cream into your recipes can add a rich and creamy element that takes your dishes to the next level.

Whether you’re adding it to soups, pasta sauces, desserts, or even beverages, cream can help create a luxurious and indulgent experience for your taste buds. So go ahead and experiment with adding cream to your favorite recipes and enjoy the creamy goodness it brings.

Creamy Soups:
Add a dollop of cream to your favourite soup recipes for a rich and velvety texture.

Creamy asparagus soup, tomato bisque, and pumpkin soup are all delicious options.

Pasta Sauces:
Create a luscious pasta sauce by incorporating cream into your recipe. Creamy Alfredo, carbonara, and vodka sauce are all popular choices.
Fluffy Scones:
Adding cream to a scone recipe helps to create a tender and moist texture.
The fat content in the cream adds richness and flavour to the scones, making them more delicious.

Cream also helps to bind the ingredients together and create a light and fluffy texture.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes:
Take your mashed potatoes to the next level by adding cream. Whip in a generous amount of cream for a smooth and creamy texture that will have everyone asking for seconds.
Creamy Salad Dressings:
Give your salads a creamy twist by using cream in your homemade dressings.

Creamy ranch, Caesar, and mayonnaise are all crowd-pleasers.

Creamy Desserts:
Cream is a staple ingredient in many delicious desserts.
From classic favourites like crème brûlée and panna cotta to indulgent ice creams and mousses, the options are endless.
Creamy Dips:
Cream can add a luxurious touch to your favourite dips.

This Creamy cocktail dip, or buffalo chicken dip, and creamy avocado dip are all sure to be a hit at your next gathering.

Creamy Curries:
Add cream to your curry recipes for a rich and creamy sauce.

Creamy butter chicken, tikka masala, and korma are all popular choices.

Creamy Quiches:
Cream is a key ingredient in making a deliciously creamy quiche.

Whether you prefer a classic quiche Lorraine or a vegetable-filled option, cream will add a velvety texture to your dish.

Creamy Casseroles:
Cream can take your casseroles to the next level.

Creamy chicken and rice casserole, tuna noodle casserole, and creamy broccoli casserole are all comforting and delicious options.

Creamy Pancakes:
Add cream to your pancake batter for extra fluffy and creamy pancakes.

Top them off with a dollop of whipped cream for a decadent breakfast treat.

Creamy Cocktails:
Cream can be a delicious addition to cocktails.

From creamy White Russians to indulgent Irish coffees, cream adds a smooth and velvety texture to your favorite libations.

Creamy Coffee Drinks:
Transform your morning coffee into a creamy delight by adding a splash of cream.

Whether you prefer a classic latte, cappuccino, or a creamy mocha, the addition of cream will elevate your coffee experience.

FAQ

What are the health benefits of cream?

Cream is a good source of protein and fat.
It also contains some vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin D, and calcium.

What are the risks of eating cream?

Cream is high in saturated fat. Eating too much saturated fat can raise your cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease.

How can I store cream?

Cream can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
It can also be frozen for up to 3 months.

How do I whip cream?

To whip cream, you will need a whisk or an electric mixer.
Start by beating the cream on low speed until it is smooth. Then, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the cream forms stiff peaks.

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