Also Known as
Malai, fresh cream
Luscious and silky, there's nothing that spells dessert satisfaction, like cream. After milk is boiled and allowed to cool, a thick layer of fat and coagulated proteins collects at the surface and can be skimmed off; by repeating the process twice. Cream is the yellow-tinted component of whole milk that is rich in butterfat. If whole milk has not been homogenized, the cream in it tends to separate and rise to the surface. In the days before dairy mechanization, cream was extracted by allowing milk to settle in shallow pans. Cream was the butterfat-rich portion that was skimmed off after 12 hours. The even richer heavy cream skimmed off after 24 hours was called double cream. Buffalo's milk being rich in fat gives more Malai compared to cow's milk. Cream is the Malai made at home or it is easily available in homogenized form in the market.
There are various types of cream and their applications:
Half and half cream
Half milk and half cream mixed together, with a fat content between 10- 15%. It adds a richness milk does not, but is not thick enough to replace cream in recipes that call for cream. It will not whip like cream, either.
Fat content between 18-30%, also known as coffee cream. Light cream will not whip
Rich or Double Cream
Does not contain any thickening agents and usually has a fat content of around 48% or more.
Thickened Cream (regular or reduced fat)
With 35% and 18% milk fat, it contains additives such as gelatin, vegetable gum or other modifying agents. The additives act as thickening agents, making it easier to whip and less likely to separate or curdle.
With a slight caramelized flavour, clotted cream contains no less than 48% milk fat. Decadent accompaniment to desserts, used in place of regular/pure cream. Ideal as a filling in desserts, and included in sauces and risottos. A great partner to a fresh berry assortment.
Lactic acid is added to cream and allowed to mature under controlled conditions to produce the naturally tart, slightly acidic flavour of Crème Fraiche. Containing 35% to 48% milk fat, it is thicker and less tart than sour cream and has a slightly nutty more refined flavour.Crème Fraiche is valued by chefs as it is stable when heated and has a more refined flavour.
Long Life Cream (UHT)
Long life cream has undergone ultra heat treatment (UHT) to extend its shelf life. It is heated at high temperatures for a short period to stabilise it. Available in cartons, long life cream usually contains 35% milk fat. It will whip well if chilled and can be spooned over desserts or used in cooking. Also available in reduced fat.
Canned reduced fat cream
Reduced cream, with 21% milk fat, is packaged and heat-sterilised to extend its life. The heat coagulates and thickens it. Available in cans or cartons. Spoon onto desserts and add to dips, or chill thoroughly and serve whipped.
Pressure pack cream
What convenient packaging for thickened reduced cream (with a minimum of 25% milk fat)! A harmless nitrous oxide gas propellant dissipates rapidly when the pack's valve is depressed. It delivers already whipped cream to cakes and desserts
How to Select
Home made cream is often collected in a vessel and refrigerated for a week or 15 days. It is then used either to make ghee, sweet preparation or used as desired. Always pick up your cream near the end of your shopping trip so they will still be cold when you put them back into your refrigerator at home. The best before date indicates how long the unopened product will retain its freshness and high quality. For optimum quality and freshness, milk and cream should be used by the best before date.
" Cream is used as an ingredient in many foods, including ice cream, many sauces, soups, and some custard bases, and is also used for cakes.
" Cream is usually added to coffee, lassi and milkshakes.
" Fruits can be chopped and added to cream. A chilled cup of Strawberry with Cream tastes delicious.
" It adds rich flavor to vegetables. Methi Matar Malai is one very good example.
" Malai/Cream is the major ingredient in sweet dishes. Malai Pedha, Ras Malai or Malai Kulfi.
" Buttermilk refers to the slightly sour whitish liquid obtained after churning cream, to make ghee. This can be turned sour and used for various preparations or added to knead dough or drank as it is.
How to Store
Store cream on refrigerator shelves rather than the door, which is not cold enough. Freezing cream is not recommended because it affects the quality of the product. In most cases, freezing causes changes to the fat, which can lead to poor texture. Always store it covered with a lid, as dairy products have tendency to pick up odours of other foods quickly.
" Including cream in the diet is good solution for people who want to gain weight
" Cream in moderate amounts is good for health but in excess can cause Obesity and other health problems.
" Can be introduced as baby food for premature babies for faster weight gain.