Cream is a dairy product that is composed of the higher-fat layer skimmed from the top of raw milk before homogenization. The terms cream or creme are also used to refer to a variety of substances of thick high-fat products, such as chocolate cream, coconut cream, or whipped cream.
Origin and Composition Edit
In raw milk, over time, the lighter fat rises to the top. Cream produced by cows grazing on natural pasture often contains some natural pigments; this gives the cream a slight yellow tone. Cream from cows fed on grain or grain-based pellets, is white.
In many countries cream is sold in several grades depending on total fat content.
- Half-and-half (10-18% milk fat)
- Light cream (18-30% milk fat)
- Whipping cream (30-36% milk fat)
- Heavy cream, also called heavy whipping cream (>36% milk fat)
- Manufacturer's cream (>40%)—this is mostly available from food-service wholesalers rather than grocery stores.
- Clotted cream (>55%)
- Half cream (12-18%)
- Single cream, also called light cream (18-35%)
- Whipping cream (35-48%)
- Double cream (48-55%)
- Clotted cream (>55%)
Derivations and Uses Edit
Liquid cream can be processed to form a variety of products.
Sour cream is cream (>18% milkfat) that has been cultured with lactic acid bacteria. This produces a sour taste and thickens the cream. Crème fraîche is similarly cultured with bacteria, but it is not as sour or as thick as American sour cream. Mexican crema (or cream espesa) is similar to crème fraîche.
Whipped and churned Edit
Cream with a milkfat content greater than 30% can be turned into whipped cream by mixing it with air. This roughly doubles the cream's volume as air bubbles are captured in a network of fat droplets. If the whipping continues, the fat droplets stick together and form butter; the remaining liquid is buttermilk. Butter can also be made by churning cream, which causes the fat droplets to aggregate in a similar fashion.
Ice cream is a frozen dairy product made with milk, milk proteins, cream, and flavorings. It is frozen while stirring to limit the size of the ice crystals. Premium ice creams usually have higher milk fat contents.
Commercially-available sour cream
Whipped cream topping a beverage
Strawberries topped with crème fraîche