Cream is the fat separated from milk. It is the lighter portion of milk containing all the main constituents of milk, but in which fat content is high and the solid (non fat) content is lower.
Cream is commercially separated from milk in a creamery, by means of a mechanical separator. The milk is first heated to between 32-49°C (90-120°F) before being run into the separator which operates like centrifugal machine, rotating at very high speed and forcing the milk, which is heavier, to the outside; while the cream, which is lighter, remains at the centre. The cream and the skimmed milk are drained out through separate outlets and by means of a control valve, the fat content is adjusted. The skimmed milk is then heated to 79.5°C (175°F) to kill off any harmful bacteria before being further processed into dried milk etc.
Types of Cream
There are a variety of creams available in the market, each having a different fat content:
Type of Cream Fat Content
Single Cream 18%
Whipping Cream 35%
Double Cream 48%
Double Thick Cream 50%
Sterilized Half Cream 12%
Sterilized Cream 23%
Clotted Cream 55%
For general purposes, cream may be classified into:
1. Whipping Cream (>30% fat).
2. Light or Coffee Cream (18% fat).
3. Half-and-half (10.5% fat).
4. Non-dairy or Manufactured Cream.
Half-and-half is a mixture of milk and light cream and it may be used in place of coffee cream. Cream containing sugar, stabilizers and flavouring is sold in pressurized containers. Non-dairy products containing water, vegetable fat, sugar, sodium caseinate, emulsifiers and vegetable gums are also available in pressurized cans. Nondairy products for whipped toppings, coffee, whiteners and snack dip bases are also available in the market.
1. Reconstituted Cream
It is made by emulsifying butter with skimmed milk or skimmed milk powder. This is not true cream, but a substance which resembles it in appearance.
2. Imitation or Synthetic Cream
It is made by the emulsification of vegetable fats with dried egg and gelatin, and then sugar and flavourings are added. It is a product which is frequently used in catering and baking trade, but which is very easily contaminated and liable to cause food-poisoning.
Uses of Cream
1. To serve with hot or cold coffee and chocolate.
2. To serve as an accompaniment (fruit based salad).
3. To be used fro decorative purposes in cakes and gateaux and for garnishes in soups and desserts.
4. As a main ingredient in certain desserts such as ice-cream and custards.
Storage of Cream
Fresh cream must be treated in the same way as fresh milk, as far as storage is concerned. Whipped cream must be covered and stored in sterilized containers in the refrigerator and used in the same day. Reconstituted and intimation cream must be refrigerated and only small quantities be whipped, when required for immediate use.
The whipping of Cream
Whipping cream is a product that results from the agitation of cream. During whipping, air is incorporated, thus forming foam, and fat particles are clumped together, producing the characteristic stiffness or rigidity of whipped cream. If whipping is continued too long, the emulsion breaks and butter gets separated. The air bubbles formed in whipped cream are surrounded by protein films in which clumps of fat globules offer structural support, which increases the rigidity of the foam and permits the formation of more air bubbles and the extension of the protein film to surround them. Homogenized cream is not suitable for whipping.
Points to be considered while whipping Cream
1. Use cream with minimum 30% fat for ease in whipping and for a stiff product. Increased fat upto 38% improves the whipping quality of cream.
2. Hold cream at low temperature (7°C) whips well. Lower temperature increases viscosity, which increases the whipping property. The beater and the bowl used should be cold.
3. Whipping property improves with the aging of cream, as viscosity increases.
4. Homogenized cream will not whip satisfactorily. When whipping cream, tiny air bubbles are trapped and surrounded by the fat globules in the cream. Homogenized cream will have had the majority of the fat globules broken down and they will not be sufficient and strong enough to trap and hold the air cells.
5. The utensils must be sterilized. Glass or stainless steel containers are ideal for whipping cream. Avoid using aluminum as it tends to discolour the cream, turning it a dull grey.
6. Increased acidity upto the concentration required to give a sour taste (0.3%) has no effect on whipping quality.
7. Addition of sugar decreases both volume and stiffness and increases time required to whip cream if it is added before whipping. If sugar is to be added, it is best added after the cream is stiff or just before service.
CHEF VERNON COELHO.
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT FOOD PRODUCTION