Pasteurized vs Ultra-Pasteurized
From time to time I notice that a recipe will call for pasteurized heavy cream rather than the readily-available ultra pasteurized. The reason given, of course, is the fresher taste of pasteurized, as it is not heated to as high a temperature in the process. I have never been able to find pasteurized heavy cream in the stores. I'm sure they don't carry it due to the fact that it does not have as long a shelf life as ultra-pasteurized. I've even tried to get it directly from our local dairies, but they won't sell to the public! Has anyone else had this problem? Well....not that it's a big problem, but I would like to try it and see if there is really any great difference when I whip cream for strawberry shortcake, for example.
"Afraid of butter? Add more cream."-Julia Child
I had luck finding it in vegetable stands which go the extra distance and have flowers and some cheeses, dairy and even meat, in addition to their produce. Whole Foods is another possibility, depending on what part of the country you are in.
I do find a difference when I am able to get just pasturized heavy cream. Much better, richer flavor.
re: Brian S
I've never even seen UHT cream. But UHT is not the same thing as ultra-pasteurization (which is not the same as pasteurization.) They're three related but different processes that involve progressively higher temperatures for progressively shorter periods of time. Until a couple of years ago, at least two of the main mainstream dairies that supply NYC still produced pasteurized-only cream. These days, I only see it at Whole Foods or the occasional other "gourmet" type place - as organic or some such thing, at very high prices. Like I said, it may very well exist, but I've never seen UHT cream at all. I do agree that UHT milk sucks - as bad as it is, I think I'd rather drink reconstituted dried milk myself....
You should be able to find non-UHT cream at natural food stores. I'd be surprised if Whole Foods doesn't have it. Although it is less likely, mainstream high end stores might have some.
UHT cream tends to have different whipping qualities than non-UHT, and it reacts differently when you reduce it to thicken a sauce. (How differently seems to depend on the specific additive mix.)
I would have agreed about an extreme flavour difference until quite recently. But I've since made some interesting observations. In Toronto, we have one widely distributed brand of non-UHT cream, Hewitt's. Their whipping cream tastes markedly better than the major supermarket brands of UHT cream. However, Hewitt's table cream and half-and-half do not taste better than the UHT brands.
I recently found a brand of UHT whipping cream, Dairyland, that tastes more like Hewitt's and less like the other UHT creams. This was very surprising.
We also have several brands of organic, non-UHT whipping cream (Hewitt's is not certified organic) that taste no better than the major UHT brands.
Although it may or may not be true today, at one time all UHT cream sold in the Toronto area, whatever the brand name, came from a single dairy. But different brands had different additives and they never tasted the same.
I don't know what sourcing considerations or processing secrets are involved. I've given up even trying to figure it out. I try to buy Hewitt's whipping cream and take whatever is on offer for lower butterfat varieties. I'd like to buy organic, but it don't because it doesn't taste better.
Cream is wonderful. Cream is delicious. Cream has *flavor.* Cream has body and substance and produces mounds of lovely sweet heaven. It gives body and life to countless applications. Raw cream is practically divine but gently pasteurized and non-homogenized cream is also really lovely. Good cooks and thoughtful recipe writers will always specify pasteurized cream because it is vastly, VASTLY superior.
Ultra pasteurized cream is worthless. It tastes both flat and cooked and whips poorly. It has no life and no flavor. There is really no point in using it. Why accept all that fat without the flavor? UHT cream is like Cool Whip, margarine, Miracle Whip, high fructose corn syrup and every other lie that gets sold to the willing public. It sucks and people buy it because they either don't know any better or can't find anything better. UHT is a bastardized product that bad agribusiness and greedy supermarkets have tricked people into accepting. There is *no* reason your local store can't stock a better product. In my experience cream is far less perishable than milk. Supermarkets that stock UHT cream are just choosing the worst/cheapiest/easiest suppliers and you should demand better from them.
Check a local Whole Foods - they usually carry a local brand (to you) of a pasteurized heavy cream vs. the ultra-pasteurized. Also, check smaller, local markets - there is a place in Lexington, MA called Wilson Farms that also carries a pasteurized vs. ultra-pasteurized heavy cream. Takes some sussing out, but you can usually find it. Post on your local board about it - someone's bound to know where to find it.
At natural groceries you can often buy raw cream -- very expensive, though. The other thing you can look for is manufacturer's cream, which is used in commercial kitchens and is pasturized but not ultra-pasteurized. In the Bay Area I've seen it at Smart and Final, which carries a lot of food service products but is open to the public.