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What Is Heavy Cream? Uses, Recipes & More!

Have you ever wondered what heavy cream is and how it differs from other dairy products? Wonder no longer with this helpful guide about heavy cream.

Heavy cream, also known as heavy whipping cream, is a dairy product known for its creative cooking uses. 

It’s sometimes confused with whipping cream, a liquid cream with a milk fat content ranging from 30 to 36 percent. 

Heavy cream is a versatile ingredient, and you can incorporate it into many recipes, from ice cream to pasta sauces.

Learn more about this well-loved kitchen staple here! 

This comprehensive article tells you everything you need to know about heavy cream, including its difference from whipping cream, taste, proper storage, as well as culinary and pastry uses.

What is heavy cream?

Contents

Heavy cream is a dairy product made from milk fat collected from fresh milk. 

It should be pasteurized or ultra-pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. 

However, heavy cream doesn’t need to be homogenized, a process of reducing fat globules (the cream that rises to the top) in milk into small particles (droplets), which are dispersed evenly throughout the milk. 

Unlike whipping cream, heavy cream has about 30 to 36 percent of milk fat content, heavy cream contains up to 40 percent fat, making it flavor-rich and increasing its whip-ability. 

It is a dairy ingredient, so if you want non-dairy heavy cream options, check here.  

The cream is a good choice when whipping up sweets and treats with its ultra-creamy texture… 

…Like our No-Bake Lime Cheesecake, a simple fruit dip,  and of course use it to make whipped cream from scratch!

You can also use it in savory dishes such as Alfredo sauce, mac and cheese, creamy soups, and many more. 

Are heavy cream and whipping cream the same?

No, heavy cream and whipping cream are not the same. They may look similar, but the two dairy products differ when it comes to fat content.

As mentioned, heavy cream features more than 36 percent of milk fat content while whipping cream is somewhat lighter, with fat content ranging from 30 to 36 percent.

Heavy cream vs half and half

If you’re a newbie baker, chances are you get confused with dairy products. 

You see—there’s heavy cream, whipping cream, table cream (or “light cream”), and many more.

So if you stumble upon half and half in the grocery store and wonder if it’s similar to heavy cream—STOP! 

Remember that half and half, also dubbed as half-cream, is a mixture of equal parts whole milk and cream. 

While on the contrary, heavy cream is—of course, a pure dairy cream.

Also, half and half contains only 10 to 18 percent milk fat content, which is far less than heavy cream (up to 40 percent fat).

How to use heavy cream

Heavy cream is versatile enough to be used in many recipes, whether savory or sweet dishes. 

Below are the possible things you can make using heavy cream:

How is heavy cream made?

Heavy cream is made from pasteurized milk that has been  processed through a cream separator. 

This handy device aims to separate the milk into cream and skimmed milk using a centrifugal force. 

The whole process starts by pouring the product (milk) through the feeding pipe of the machine. 

As the milk flows inside the device, the liquid is separated through spaces between the discs. 

When the centrifugal force (generated by the rotating movement) is applied under the temperature of about 122F, the separation then takes place.

As a result of the centrifugal force, the heavy phase (cream) and light phase (skimmed milk) are discharged automatically in their respective paths or tubes. 

Learn more about cream separators in this Youtube video.

What does heavy cream taste like?

People usually describe the heavy cream flavor as rich and creamy, mildly milky tasting and smooth.  

This scenario is why people love including it in their sweet and savory recipes. 

Meanwhile, the heavy cream texture is similar to whipped cream but thicker. 

Whether it’s for treats, soup, or sauce, heavy cream indeed brings a heavenly mouthfeel you’ll genuinely love.

How to store heavy cream

You should use heavy cream quickly (if you can) as the dairy product can lose its texture over time. 

If you’re planning to store heavy cream (opened or unopened), keep in mind that it will last for up to a month in the refrigerator. 

For best results, use the ingredient in your recipes within ten days after purchase. 

Here’s how to store fresh heavy cream properly in the fridge: 

Tools needed: 

  • Heavy cream 
  • Glass container
  • Refrigerator

Instructions for storing heavy cream:

  1. Leave heavy cream in its original container, tightly closed, and keep cold in the back of the refrigerator.
  2. Transfer whipped or frothed cream to a covered (preferably glass) container, like a mason jar. 
  3. Keep an eye on the expiration date, don’t leave it out on the counter for long periods, and enjoy it for up to a month.

Pro tip: Heavy cream that has gone bad smells sour and has separated into clumps when pouring.

Can you freeze heavy cream?

Heavy cream is undeniably a great ingredient to add to so many recipes. 

So to fully enjoy the ingredient, it’s best to extend its shelf life by freezing. 

Yes, you heard it right! You can prepare heavy cream for freezing! 

However, once thawed, expect that heavy cream will not whip as nicely as the fresh one. Your heavy cream will develop ice crystals the longer it sits in the freezer. 

In case you plan to whip your heavy cream then freeze it after. 

Here’s how to do it: 

Tools needed:

  • Heavy cream (whipped)
  • Parchment paper
  • Sheet trays
  • Freezer bags
  • Freezer

Instructions:

  1. Whip heavy cream into soft peaks then dollop the mixture onto parchment paper-lined sheet trays. 
  2. Freeze the mixture until firm. 
  3. Transfer to heavy-duty freezer bags and slide it into the fridge.

The bottom line

Heavy cream is one of the must-have cooking ingredients.

It may have higher fat content than other dairy products, but I guess this is one of the reasons people love them.  

With its creamy mouthfeel and rich texture, the cream makes a great addition to soups and sauce, including sweet treats.

If you’re interested in trying some heavy cream recipes, give our delicious Hokkaido milk tea a try.