A dairy product which comes from the butterfat layer skimmed off the top of milk prior to homogenization. High in fat and delicious, it is top on the 'no-no' list of many dieters but is worth splurging out on now and then - a scone is simply not the same without a dollop of it.
Different types of cream have different percentages of butterfat. The lower the butterfat, the more beating is required to make whipped cream.
Choose the best
Choose the type of cream you desire depending on your cooking needs, dietary requirements and taste preferences.
Pure cream has 35-45 per cent butterfat and is sold in bottles and cartons. It can be whipped or poured and is a good all-round choice.
Thickened cream typically has 35 per cent butterfat and added gelatine to make it thicker. Once whipped it is best for cake fillings, and can be used for any recipe requiring cream.
Double cream is the thickest, best for serving with fruit and decorating desserts. It can also be used to add richness and creaminess to savoury dishes. Be careful of curdling , but do not whip as it is homogenized.
Soured cream has been treated with lactic acid, which gives it the tangy taste. It has a thick texture and has about a 20 per cent fat content. Use it for making cheesecakes, dips, topping nachos, and in soups and sauces. Make your own sour cream by adding 1-2 tsp lemon juice to 150ml double or single cream.
Créme fraîche: is similar to soured cream but with a milder taste. It has a high fat content, at around 35 per cent, which means it does not curdle when cooked. Serve with fresh fruit and in soups, casserole and dips.
Clotted cream has the highest fat percentage of all creams at 55 per cent. This silky, butter coloured cream is a speciality of Devon and Cornwall where it is served with scones, butter and jam. Just try to use it sparingly!
Always store fresh cream in the fridge and use within one or two days of purchase. Créme fraîche will keep for 10-14 days in the fridge. Cream with a butterfat content of more than 35 per cent can be frozen.
Lower fat creams like single cream will separate when thawed but can be frozen when already incorporated into a dish.