What's the Difference between Heavy Cream and Whipping Cream
Heavy cream vs. whipping cream; did you ever wonder if there was a difference and what it might be? Are they interchangeable? Are they two terms for the same product?
Heavy Cream vs. Whipping Cream: The Breakdown
Heavy cream is the part of the milk that carries the fat. In the days before milk was homogenized the cream rose to the top of the milk over a period of a few hours. Many older Americans can remember milk in bottles with a thick layer of luscious cream on the top. When the cream was skimmed off the milk the remaining liquid was referred to as "skimmed milk".
In the United States regulations state that heavy cream must have a fat content of 30 to 40 percent or more. This gives it a thick, rich texture and a buttery mouth feel. When heavy cream is an ingredient in a recipe it will add these characteristics to the recipe in direct proportion to the percentage of cream to the other ingredients.
Heavy cream and heavy whipping cream are essentially the same thing. For the freshest, richest flavor you want to check the ingredients,however. You want a heavy cream with a short shelf life. Ultra-pasteurized cream has been heated to very high temperatures to make it last longer. During this process it loses flavor and some of its texture characteristics.
When you look at the ingredients on the side of the carton it should list only cream and possibly carrageenan, a seaweed derivative that helps stabilize the cream. If you can buy local, raw cream from a local creamery you are in for a real treat. If not, try to at least get organic cream. It is the least likely to have unnecessary additives and sugars in it.
You may also see a product in your grocer's dairy case that is labeled whipping cream or light whipping cream. This means that the cream has a lower fat content, often in the 30 to 34 percent range. Cream that has less than 30 percent fat will not whip.
Sometimes this type of cream will have skim milk listed atone of the ingredients and it will have many additives and stabilizers. You may save a little money with this but the end result in your recipe will not be as rich.
How to Whip Cream
So, you hit an awesome clearance at the grocer and bought a ton of heavy cream. Can it be frozen? Sure! You can freeze heavy cream or whipping cream up to four months. Make sure the container is airtight so that the cream does not pick up flavors from freezer odors.
To thaw it just place it in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed you can use the cream as you would fresh. You do need to know that the cream will take much longer to whip and you may need to add a little stabilizer to get it to whip up. You can use a teaspoon of vanilla instant pudding quite successfully for this.
Once cream is frozen and then thawed it can develop a grainy texture. This is from fat globules in the cream. Because of this it may be best to use the cream in sauces, soups, and cooked dishes once it has been frozen – or, freeze it in ice cream!
Heavy cream vs. whipping cream; which you choose depends a lot on the result you want from your recipe. A cream with a high fat content will always be silkier than a cream with less fat. Also consider that some companies are using skim milk and stabilizers in whipping cream; something that is not allowed under the heavy cream label.
Always read your labels carefully and stick with organic cream whenever possible. You will be surprised at the difference in quality that you get.
© 2010 Marye Audet
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