But what is cream? This pure and natural product is obtained by skimming the fat-enriched portion that rises to the top of whole milk. Any substance that results from the skimming of whole milk and that has at least 30 g of milk fat per 100 g is defined as “cream”. "Light cream" must contain less than 12 g of milk fat per 100 g. European Union (EU) regulations state that the term "cream" is not authorised for anything below these levels.
After the skimming process, the collected cream undergoes a homogenization stage to stabilize the milk fat and prevent separation. The cream is then heat treated to kill off any bacteria that may be present. Since 29th June 1934, French law has prohibited the addition of any products to cream except for very small quantities of the following: sucrose (up to 15%), lactic acid fermenting bacteria and stabilizers (0.5%). Many countries have followed these rules in producing cream and under the consolidated EU regulations, all European creameries are held to this high standard of quality.
Whether light (12 – 30% fat) or not (at least 30% fat), creams are also distinguished by the type of heat treatment applied (ultrahigh-temperature sterilization, pasteurization or thermization), their viscosity (fluid, semi-thick or thick), their structure (whipped cream or whipping cream) and their method of packaging (aseptic or not, jars, bags, bottles, cartons, aerosol, etc.).
With all these variations, it is no small wonder that consumers are often confused when confronted with the dizzying array of brands, packaging, and labelling in the market. A quick scan of the dairy and baking supply shelves in Malaysia pop up labels such as cooking cream, culinary cream, whipping cream, dessert whip topping, etc. One of these is not like the others.
Other advantages of cream: it reduces the bitterness of cocoa, the acidity of lemon, and tempers the pungency of certain fruit and the astringency of others. It improves the fondant used on pastries and turns fruit into mousse. In addition to these practical and dietary qualities, cream is also the least greasy type of fat, containing at least 60% water. Soft, luxurious and light!
When choosing the type of cream needed for your cooking or in pastries, food scientist Harold McGee says, “The proportion of fat determines both a cream's consistency and its versatility.” Creams with more fat will make a more stable whipped cream, and also resist curdling when used in hot dishes. Creams with lower fat content are better used in beverages or for pouring over desserts.
European cream is immediately recognizable by its roundness, smoothness, and a bright and fresh taste that can sometimes let out hints of cooked milk, sweet biscuits, and fruitiness. Some creams enjoy a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status, recognizing their uniquely rich environment and microclimate (terroir), traditional expertise, and product quality at the European level.
For results that rise to the top, choose European cream products and be assured of an authentic, delicate taste and outstanding performance in aerating, holding, and texture.
1. McGee, Harold. "Cream." On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York: Scribner, 2004. 27-33. Print.
2. EU Food Additive Legislation: https://www.fsai.ie/faqs/additives/food_additive_legislation.html.
3. Maison du Lait: http://www.maison-du-lait.com/en/milk-products/creams.