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Understanding Whipped Cream

I use cream for cooking and also make whipped cream for desserts, a quart at a time, about once a day. Sometimes I make it several times a day. These are sweetened with sugar and flavored with vanilla, sometimes banana, lemon, or chocolate.

Doing this for years with a hand mixer, I’ve noticed big differences between brands and types of cream. My favorite that I use the most is Glenville Farms Heavy Cream. It whips fast, becomes very stiff, and is stable. You can quickly ice a cake with it and it stays put. It never creeps or sags. This cannot be said of any other brands I’ve tried, and I’ve tried all kinds.

If you make things with whipped cream, you might like to know why Glenville is the best I’ve found and what to look for. Cream is cream, right? It’s the stuff at the top of raw milk. Not exactly. It varies.

What varies is the fat content. The higher the fat, the faster it will whip and the more stiff and stable it will be. Fat is expressed as a percentage. Finding out the percentage can be challenging because it’s usually not printed on the carton or bottle.

The minimum fat content needed for it to whip at all is 30 percent. Some brands get by with even less by adding a thickening agent like carrageenan. Look for it in the ingredients. You can recognize this as it flows out of the bottle as a very thick gloppy liquid. Real cream is thick but still flows smoothly like a liquid. The result of low-fat-content cream will be okay for some purposes but will be soft, light, less stable, less flavorful. This is often labeled “whipping cream”. A better result occurs with fat content of 37 to 38 percent and this often labeled “heavy cream”. Glenville has 40 percent and its superiority is evident in the result and flavor.

I was going to publish a list comparing different brands, but accurate info is difficult to get hold of, so I decided not to, for now. What I found, however, was something to beware of if you are a dieter or paying close attention to nutrition. I found that several nutrition sites on the web do not show accurate information. Some sites allow you to search products by brand and type. I found that the information they publish for all brands and types of cream is identical. They just copy-pasted the exact same information on every brand and type — the same calories per tablespoon, the same grams of fat per 15 ml. We know that’s not true.

3 Comments

  1. Janet Wolnitzek Deck

    I use Kroger Ultra Pasteurized Heavy Whipping Cream. Great for every dish using it. My favorite dish is Chicken Alfredo or Asiago Chicken. My icing is light, creamy and stiff at the same time. Just using butter, confectioner and a dab of cream. Add some cream cheese for a carrot cake. I put it on my banana bread and I never should have, because it is addictive.

    • Phil

      Yes, I’m very familiar with it. I just used some last night to make a chocolate ganache. These days we’re running at reduced capacity so we’re not buying the good stuff from our supplier. We’re getting most things from the supermarket, except meat, fish, and pasta.

      Despite having carageenan in it, which gives it that lumpy gooey consistency, it still takes twice as long to whip as heavy cream. It’s okay but we only use it in a pinch.

      The problem is my favorite stuff I’ve never seen in a market. We get it by the case from one of our restaurant suppliers. 🙁

      • Janet Wolnitzek Deck

        Yes, I would love to buy some fish that you cannot find in the local grocery stores, Kroger ran all the local mom and pop’s out of business. They actually were a family owned business themselves for many years in our area. We also lost our local slaughter houses. So the deli’s have very little variety of cuts of meats, poultry and fish that used to be available in this area. I would have to travel to a market up in Ohio to get what I want now.

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