fresh and cultured creams

Cream is produced by first separated the butterfat from whole milk by centrifugal force in a mechanical separator, essentially a bowl that can be rotated at a speed of 4000 to 6000 rpm. The milk is usually preheated to approximately 50°C which liquefies the fat making separation easier. As the bowl revolves, the cream being lighter than the rest of the milk, gravitates towards the centre of the bowl, while the skimmed milk portion is directed outwards by centrifugal force. Both cream and skimmed milk are then discharged from two different outlet pipes, and the cream is put into large chilled jacketed storage tanks before further processing. The fat content of the cream, which is prescribed under UK law, may be adjusted by standardisation using skimmed milk. Cream is rich in nutrients containing protein, minerals and some vitamins.

Cream is heat treated by pasteurisation, in order to destroy any harmful micro-organisms which may be present, and to improve keeping quality without significantly affecting the nutritional value or flavour of the cream.

Pasteurisation usually means that cream will be heated to a minimum of 72°C for 15 seconds, and then rapidly cooled to less than 10°C.

Cream should be stirred into foods at the end of cooking and should not be boiled to avoid separation.

Double Cream, (minimum 48% fat content) is produced by centrifugal separation and is usually homogenised. It is the most popular and versatile type of fresh cream. Besides being a rich pouring cream, it will whip to one and a half times its original volume. It is especially good in hot dishes as it withstands heat better than others, and is often used for making homemade ice creams, and for floating on top of coffee or soup.

Whipping Cream (minimum 35% fat content) is also produced by centrifugal separation, though it is generally not homogenised. It doubles in volume when whipped, to give an airy cream suitable for use in soufflés and mousses. It pipes well, and can therefore be used to decorate and fill cakes, pastries and trifles.

Single Cream (minimum 18%) is often homogenised to prevent separation during storage and to increase viscosity. It is traditionally used for pouring, though it can also be used in soups and quiches.

Soured Cream is made from pasteurised, homogenised single cream with a butterfat content standardised to 18%. It is soured by the addition of a starter culture similar to those used in yogurt and soft cheese manufacture. This process produces a piquant, refreshing product that enhances the flavour of many sweet and savoury dishes. It is a traditional ingredient in many recipes and can be used in salad dressings and dips, as a topping for baked potatoes and with desserts.

Crème Fraiche originated in France and is similar to soured cream as it is made from homogenised, pasteurised cream with a butterfat content ranging from 15% to 40%. Its distinctive taste and characteristic velvety texture make it an ideal ingredient to use in a wide variety of recipes.