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What's in your cream?


Mjx
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I never paid attention to this until this thread. My heavy cream from Trader Joe's is 40% butterfat and contains carrageenan (percentage unspecified). I am located in California.

It also has a disclaimer that it "contains MILK"!!

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. . . . Like an earlier poster, I am not against additives per se but on my terms. They should not be in my cream!

Exactly! I like to be able to retain some control over what is in the ingredients I buy.

It is a function of our large commercial agriculture and supermarket distribution system in the U.S.

. . . .

This can't be the whole story though, because I doubt there's a country left whose dairy industry isn't primarily industrialized. In Denmark, for example, there are just two or three huge, ultramodern dairies, and I don't even know whether there are any small independent ones left, but finding plain heavy cream isn't a problem.

Many electric mixers turn unadulterated cream into butter if you over-whip it by even a few seconds, so perhaps in places where additives are the norm, this arose because of consumer complaints about that.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
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The probability that the the presence or absence of additives is most likely a national, rather then industry-related issue gets some support from the fact that a brief online search indicates that, actually in Denmark there is one massive dairy (Arla), and a number of smaller producers; the unadulterated stuff sitting in our refrigerator comes from Karolines Køkken, part of the Arla group.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
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Perhaps you are overlooking the physical size disparity of the US vs UK or Denmark in regards to time to market? The ultra-pasteurization that is so common here triples shelf-life. It is always worth it here if you can to pay the premium and support the smaller regional dairies. I'm jealous of all the wonderful dairy products the UK has on offer - double cream, single cream, clotted, etc. There is a huge tradition of these in the UK, I'm not surprised that you would be surprised at our relative lack of the same.

eta. because u-p process 'cooks' the milk, I assume many of the additives are there to compensate for any lost properties (ie reduced whippability, etc)

Edited by natasha1270 (log)
"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali
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Perhaps you are overlooking the physical size disparity of the US vs UK or Denmark in regards to time to market? The ultra-pasteurization that is so common here triples shelf-life.

eta. because u-p process 'cooks' the milk, I assume many of the additives are there to compensate for any lost properties (ie reduced whippability, etc)

This is my thinking as well. Also, adding gums and stabilizers means that producers can use the minimum fat for the labeling requirements.

Edited by Moopheus (log)

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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In Manhattan, Whole Foodses typically have plain pasteurized cream - house brand as well as Ronnybrook, one of our New York State producers that is sold fairly widely, including at farmers' markets. But occasionally - sometimes at the Bowery store, sometimes at Columbus Circle - they also sell a wonderful Vermont cream from Jersey cows: Butterworks Farm. I seem to remember seeing Milk Thistle dairy products at some Whole Foodses too, but I don't recall seeing their heavy cream.

Milk Thistle sells excellent cream from their Greenmarket stands at Union Square and other locations. Expensive at $7 a pint, but simply the best you can get around here.

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Perhaps you are overlooking the physical size disparity of the US vs UK or Denmark in regards to time to market? The ultra-pasteurization that is so common here triples shelf-life.

eta. because u-p process 'cooks' the milk, I assume many of the additives are there to compensate for any lost properties (ie reduced whippability, etc)

This is my thinking as well. Also, adding gums and stabilizers means that producers can use the minimum fat for the labeling requirements.

But surely, trebling shelf life isn't that related to the distance that dairy is transported..? As far as I can remember offhand, most dairy products in the US come from regional divisions of large industrial concerns, and don't travel that far (I'm basing this on my experience in NYS; I should ask my sister in law, whose parents were dairy farmers in Oregon). Sounds like there must be a pretty solid tangle of regulations involved in this, including what counts as 'cream'.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I never paid attention to this until this thread. My heavy cream from Trader Joe's is 40% butterfat and contains carrageenan (percentage unspecified). I am located in California.

It also has a disclaimer that it "contains MILK"!!

Hi,

All USA cream probably contains milk given the minimum butterfat requirements:

  • Manufacturer Cream: 40%
    Whipping Cream: 36%
    Cream: 30%

I assume that any Cream that includes milk as an ingredient is below that 40% mark.

Tim

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^^

Tim, I think the "contains MILK" warning is just allergy advice. In the UK it appears on products without ingredients list (because they have no added ingredients) such as cream, etc. as an allergy warning. You also get "contains celery", "contains shellfish", "contains soya", etc. It is separate from any ingredients list.

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As someone mentioned above, in Michigan Meijer storebrand cream contains no additives. And it's quite high in fat relative to some other brands. (I don't know the percentage, but if I'm looking for the highest fat whipping cream among choices, I just look for the most calories per serving.)

However, I almost always get my un-adulterated cream from a local dairy that does home delivery and is distributed in some local stores. They actually use low-heat pasteurization. The flavor is awesome, but shelf-life is short - it seems to go off by the day after it's use-by date, guaranteed. Because it's local, the butterfat content (and color) varies a lot over the year depending on what the cows are eating.

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Dinner for 40

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Hello,

Here in Ontario (Canada), I buy a product labelled "whipping cream" from Organic Meadows. This brand is available at most chain grocery stores, and according to the ingredient list, it contains nothing but cream. The milk comes from farms across Ontario. The fat content is 35%. It's not an UHT-pasteurized product, so the taste is very clean. I use it for all my ganaches, and am very happy with it.

On the other hand, I am having trouble finding UHT cream. I wanted to try it for food safety reasons (less microbial activity than regular cream, therefore better shelf life), but I could not find it, so I'm sticking with the organic cream, and just advising people to eat my truffles quickly. :-)

Diana

Edited by DianaM (log)
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But surely, trebling shelf life isn't that related to the distance that dairy is transported..? As far as I can remember offhand, most dairy products in the US come from regional divisions of large industrial concerns, and don't travel that far

This is basically true. Dairy production has been more resistant to the kind of concentration that has taken over the meat business. But the shelf-life demands are probably more driven by the large supermarket chains, who want the most shelf-stable product. If I go to Whole Foods or Russo's (a local produce market) I can get High Lawn cream, from a dairy in the Berkshires. If I got to Shaw's or Stop & Shop (parts of large conglomerates), I can't.

The labeling thing isn't really that complicated. Most of our cream is labeled heavy, light, whipping, or half & half (cream and milk). People reasonably expect that heavy cream has more fat than light cream, so there's some standardization there.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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It's interesting to see how regional this is WITHIN the United Sates. I see many people mentioning they can get plain crea at Whole Foods. I can't. And Whole Foods STARTED and is based in Texas. Also, I can't get "light" cream. I think everything is "whipping cream" or "heavy whipping cream".

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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But surely, trebling shelf life isn't that related to the distance that dairy is transported..?

I'm sure there is a whole host of corporate/economic issues at play as well. 'Big Milk' is very much in charge of the US milk supply.

In my area, I can purchase Trickling Springs at Whole Foods or Lewes Dairy cream with no additives (pasteurized) at Balduccis. I can't remember if the Horizon Organic brand has any or not.

"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali
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It's interesting to see how regional this is WITHIN the United Sates. I see many people mentioning they can get plain crea at Whole Foods. I can't. And Whole Foods STARTED and is based in Texas. Also, I can't get "light" cream. I think everything is "whipping cream" or "heavy whipping cream".

To the best of my admitted limited knowledge, light cream and half and half are one in the same.

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But surely, trebling shelf life isn't that related to the distance that dairy is transported..?

I'm sure there is a whole host of corporate/economic issues at play as well. 'Big Milk' is very much in charge of the US milk supply.

One of the factors that works against the smaller and more local dairy (and local produce generally) is centralized purchasing. When I go to Shaw's, I see Garelick milk. Garelick is a regional producer, now owned by Dean, which owns a bunch of similar producers. Shaw's is owned by Supervalu, which also owns Albertson's. This means that one buyer can make a deal with one seller to supply all of their stores. The buyer at Supervalu doesn't want to make hundreds of little deals; that's too much work, and they don't get as good a price. Whole Foods will do it because they know their customers will pay the premium to get the local product, whereas Supervalu has to worry about Walmart and Costco.

"I think it's a matter of principle that one should always try to avoid eating one's friends."--Doctor Dolittle

blog: The Institute for Impure Science

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Here is a look at milk industry courtesy NPR from 2009: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112002639

Interestingly, one of the commenters suggests that various inter-province regulations is helping to keep milk local in Canada.

"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali
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I promised that I would make a batch of butter this morning with regular supermarket heavy whipping cream and so I did.

I have posted the results Here on my blog.

I took the cream out of the fridge and left it on the counter overnight. I know most people insist that cream whips better if cold and in a cold bowl, but for making butter I have not found that to be so. Room temp cream whips up nearly as rapidly and it "breaks" more rapidly.

I have made small batches of butter in the TMX (with manufacturing cream) and when it is chilled, it takes almost 4 minutes to break. Obviously this took less than half that time.

You can do the same process in a mixer - use the whisk for beating the cream until it breaks and use the paddle for rinsing with a minimum of three changes of water.

The TMX just speeds things up.

I usually use an electric churn and the minimum I can put into it is half a gallon and it works better with a gallon. Also I had not cultured the cream, or allowed it to "clabber" usually the first step in making butter the old-fashioned way.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Half and Half is supposed to be 12% butterfat and single cream 20% butterfat.

I've never seen light cream sold here in California.

My favorite cream was the one I bought at Trader Joe's in southern California in the blue/white bottles. I read somewhere that it's actually manufacturer's cream. Can't find it in northern California.

The Clover organic cream I buy now lists only "certified organic grade A cream" under ingredients.

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Half and Half is supposed to be 12% butterfat and single cream 20% butterfat.

I've never seen light cream sold here in California.

My favorite cream was the one I bought at Trader Joe's in southern California in the blue/white bottles. I read somewhere that it's actually manufacturer's cream. Can't find it in northern California.

The Clover organic cream I buy now lists only "certified organic grade A cream" under ingredients.

But in Northern California you can more easily find the Straus Family Creamery products.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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It's interesting to see how regional this is WITHIN the United Sates. I see many people mentioning they can get plain crea at Whole Foods. I can't. And Whole Foods STARTED and is based in Texas. Also, I can't get "light" cream. I think everything is "whipping cream" or "heavy whipping cream".

To the best of my admitted limited knowledge, light cream and half and half are one in the same.

looking at the wikiepdia entry it claims the following

In the United States, cream is usually sold as:

Half and half (10.5–18% fat)

Light, coffee, or table cream (18–30% fat)

Medium cream (25% fat)

Whipping or light Whipping cream (30–36% fat)

Heavy Whipping cream (36% or more)

Extra-heavy, double, or manufacturer's cream (38–40% or more), generally not available at retail except at some warehouse and specialty stores.

Cream is defined in Title 21 CFR, part 131. Light cream in particular is define in 21CFR31.155 Half and half is in part 131.180. Reading the code, it seems that Wikiepedia is correct in this case.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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I've been googling and pondering and don't have anything definitive, but I feel the issue may be coming into focus.

First, here in Indiana, for me (just a consumer) to get raw milk/cream legally I would have to buy a part of a cow so that I'm not 'buying' the dairy. So that leads us necessarily to pasteurization. Ultra pasteurization changes shelf life from weeks to months. That is a big insurance policy if you're a retailer who is trying to meet all the demand without losing money to spoilage.

But ultra pasteurization, beyond affecting the flavor, also makes cream harder to whip and/or remain whipped. Ergo carrageenen and mono/diglycerides.

In my own anecdotal experience in the U.S., cream is used by the general populace primarily for whipping. I've seen my wife buy cream only twice in twenty years and both times it was for whipping. It is used in coffee, but I've noticed a preponderance of non-dairy creamers.

I think cream as an ingredient in general is not viewed positively in the U.S. Rarely do I see mainstream recipes with cream. We'll do Half & Half, but that's about as far as we'll go - except for a chocolate mousse, or some such desserty thing.

Regarding Trader Joe's, I happened across a post dated a year ago on some site saying that Trader Joe's cream had no additives. Apparently that has changed unless it's a regional thing again.

Edited by IndyRob (log)
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Regarding Trader Joe's, I happened across a post dated a year ago on some site saying that Trader Joe's cream had no additives. Apparently that has changed unless it's a regional thing again.

i thought i posted earlier today, but must have failed to click "add reply". this thread caused me to go check my container of trader joe's heavy cream (pasteurized, but not ultrapasteurized).

indeed, it contains carrageenan. i don't think this was the case in years past. still, it's my favorite cream. i think i will email to ask why the additive now?

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Regarding Trader Joe's, I happened across a post dated a year ago on some site saying that Trader Joe's cream had no additives. Apparently that has changed unless it's a regional thing again.

i thought i posted earlier today, but must have failed to click "add reply". this thread caused me to go check my container of trader joe's heavy cream (pasteurized, but not ultrapasteurized).

indeed, it contains carrageenan. i don't think this was the case in years past. still, it's my favorite cream. i think i will email to ask why the additive now?

Strange, I'm 95% sure I was referencing your post because I remember the pasteurized/ultra pasteurized distinction, but can't find it now.

But I suspect that although TJ's felt they were doing the right thing by offering a cream with no additives, they also got feedback saying "Hey, this stuff doesn't whip up like the stuff I buy at the mega mart."

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