How to Use Different Types of Cream

There is quite a variety of fresh cream types available on the market and you may not be sure what to do with each type. It can help to understand the types and their uses when seeking to diversify your use of cream in cooking and daily culinary use. This article describes the types of creams available and what you can use them for.


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    Note that there are two types of cream - fresh cream and long-life cream. Both types of cream have different characteristics and this article is concerned only with fresh cream varieties. Fresh cream is rich, smooth and velvety. Fresh cream has uses in many different dishes, including as a source of thickening soups, making sauces taste richer and garnishing desserts. Naturally, cream also makes a substantial ingredient in its own right for some dessert dishes such as syllabubs and ice cream.
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    Choose quality fresh cream. When purchasing fresh cream, it is wise to follow these guidelines:
    • Purchase only the amount needed; cream goes off quickly
    • Purchase in-date cream only; advise the store owner of any out-of-date cream on the shelf
    • Store well covered by a lid, plastic film or aluminium foil to prevent spoiling and tainting of flavour by other foods in the refrigerator
    • Use within days of purchase to ensure freshness
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    Learn the different varieties of fresh cream available. Fresh cream breaks down into the following varieties (please note that the fat content described may vary depending on your dairy industry's regulations:
    • Double cream: contains a butterfat content of no less than 48%. The main features to look for are a cream that is rich and extremely creamy. This is a suitable pouring cream and goes well with fruit and chocolate puddings. This cream will hold its shape well. In the U.S., it is referred to as extra-heavy or manufacturer's cream and is rarely available through retail outlets. In Australia it may also be marketed as "rich cream".
    • Whipping/whipped cream: The minimum butterfat content is 35%. This cream is thinner than double cream. It is usually cheaper also. Once whipped, this cream goes well with cakes (topping and filling), on desserts (e.g., pavlova) and atop hot drinks (e.g., hot chocolate). In the U.S., this would be referred to as "heavy whipping" cream. If it has between 30-36% butterfat, it is referred to as "whipping" or "light whipping" cream. In Australia it may also be marketed as "thickened cream".
    • Single cream: The butterfat content of single cream is no less than 18%. Single cream is a pouring cream that goes well with fruit salad and as a coffee milk substitute for those who like a richer taste in their coffee. Single cream is also the best cream for adding to sauces, soups, stocks, and in casserole dishes.
    • Half-cream/light cream: With a butterfat content of no less than 12%, half-cream is great for people who find the taste of cream too rich. Like single cream,, half-cream works well with coffee and can also be used on fruit salads where the taste of the cream should not overwhelm the dish. Try dipping a biscuit or cookie in it for an extravagant treat.
    • Clotted cream: This cream contains a minimum butterfat content of 55%. It is produced by a special process; the cream is heated to 82ºC/180ºF. The crust of the cooled cream is removed and is the clotted portion of the cream. It goes perfectly with scones and jam.
    • Crème fraîche: This cream is a mixture of sour cream and fresh cream, and has a touch of buttermilk. Its taste is rich and slightly sour. Best used for soups, desserts and as one ingredient in Asian-inspired dipping sauces.
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    Note that some of these cream varieties may be named differently in your region.


  • Single cream and half cream cannot be whipped.
  • There is also "sour cream", which is cream with a thicker texture that has been soured by the addition of a culture. It goes well in savoury dips and in similar snack food recipes. It is great when added to hot dishes at the end of cooking time, such as jacket baked potatoes. Light versions of sour cream can be purchased if wished.
  • Cream must be refrigerated for storage. It can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 - 4 days; clotted cream and whipped double cream have a slightly longer duration than other creams.
  • It is possible in many places to buy whipping/whipped cream already pre-made in containers. No need to whip it yourself, just serve as is.

Things You'll Need

  • Cream that fits your recipe requirements
  • Good storage methods: covered jug/glass container etc. to prevent mingling with fridge or freezer odours

Article Info

Categories: Eggs and Dairy