This article is about cream, the food item. There is another article on the rock band Cream.
Cream is a dairy product that is the higher-fat layer skimmed from the top of raw milk before homogenization. In the raw milk, the lighter fat rises to the top; in industrial production of cream this process is accelerated by using centrifuges. Cream is sold in several grades depending on fat content.
In the U.S., it is usually sold as:
- Half-and-half (12% fat)
- Whipping cream and whipped cream (30%)
- Heavy cream, or heavy whipping cream (36%)
In the UK, it is usually sold as:
- Half cream (12%)
- Single cream or Light cream (18%)
- Whipping cream (35%)
- Double cream (48%)
Crème fraîche (a French product, available in some markets elsewhere) is a heavy cream slightly soured with bacterial culture, but not as sour or as thick as American sour cream. Mexican crema (or cream espesa) is similar.
Cream with more than 30% fat can be turned into whipped cream by mixing it with air. This roughly doubles the cream's volume as air bubbles are captured in a network of fat droplets. If the whipping is continued, the fat droplets stick together and form butter; the remaining liquid is buttermilk.
Ice cream is made with milk and cream and flavorings, frozen while stirring to limit the size of the ice crystals. Premium ice creams usually contain more milk fat.