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Foods

Cream
Why Eat It
Varieties


Why Eat It

The fatty layer that rises to the top of unhomogenized milk, cream was once the sine qua non of gourmet cooking. Today's health-conscious cooks have found ways to make rich-tasting sauces, soups, and desserts without cream, but a small quantity of any type of cream, judiciously used does add a unique flavor and texture to recipes.

Varieties

Sweet creams: In ascending order by fat content, these are: Half-and-half (or cereal cream)--a mixture of milk and cream--with a milkfat content of not less than 10.5% but not more than 18% by weight; light cream (or coffee cream or table cream), with not less than 18% but not more than 30% milkfat; light whipping cream, with not less than 30% but not more than 36% milkfat; and heavy cream, with 36% milkfat or more.

Sour creams: Dairy sour cream, sour half-and-half, reduced-fat, low-fat, and nonfat sour cream are all made by culturing cream and/or milk with lactic acid bacteria. Sour cream must contain at least 18% milkfat by weight. Sometimes rennet and/or nonfat milk solids are added to give sour cream more body. Sour half-and-half, as well as reduced-fat and low-fat sour cream, are made like sour cream, using half-and-half. Nonfat sour cream (labeled as a sour-cream alternative because it does not meet the federal standard of identity for sour cream) is made from cultured skim milk. Cholesterol-free sour cream alternative is made with skim milk and vegetable oil.


Date Published: 04/20/2005
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