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Nov 1, 2008 07:57 AM

Light cream - available in your area?

I got into a tangential discussion on another board about the availability (or not) of light cream. Here in New England it's a standard supermarket item, pretty much anywhere you go you can find half-and-half, light cream, heavy cream, and whipping cream, often several brands of each. But a poster from the midwest (KC area) says she hasn't seen it in markets there for 20 years.

I'm wondering if it's a regional thing - New England has a thriving local dairy industry, and the product is in demand locally, so they produce it (or they produce it so people have gotten used to buying it and using it - it's a chicken and egg thing, who knows which came first?)

So, Chowhounders from various parts of the country, a quick poll: where do you live and is light cream readily available in your area?

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  1. Southwestern PA: I think a few more specialty/gourmet stores might have light cream, but it is not a standard item in the mainstream supermarkets. When I got to McGinnis Sisters in a little while I will check there. I am pretty sure they have light cream. But Giant Eagle, the by far dominant grocery chain here, I am pretty sure I have never seen it in there.

    2 Replies
    1. re: CrazyOne

      Definitely at least one or two local dairies here that make the light cream (saw it earlier in the one store). But these products aren't carried in the larger chain stores nor in most small or convenience stores. (The major chains tend to push their own store brand over most others.) I figure we must be just on the edge if it really is a regional thing. Definitely not the same as half and half as the same dairy produces both.

      The cartons for the heaviest here usually say heavy whipping cream in my experience. It always seems to have junk in it, unfortunately (found that to be true elsewhere as well). I dunno if that is specifically to make it whip or not. And I didn't really notice today whether there is anyone selling a heavy cream distinct from their heavy whipping cream or not.

      1. re: CrazyOne

        I believe that the primary difference between heavy cream and whipping cream here is that while both have roughly 35% fat, whipping cream has some emulsifiers added to make it easier to whip (as if that were a hard thing to do in the first place; but never underestimate the demand of Americans for "convenience" foods).

        Although when I look at the web sites of a couple of major local producers, the list of ingredients on both their heavy cream and their whipping cream is identical, so maybe I'm wrong. Anybody out there connected to the dairy industry who can clarify this? (And no ghee jokes, please!)

    2. In Southern California definitely not. I'm originally from New England so I looked up the fat percentages and every once in a while I mix up my own.

      1 Reply
      1. re: LisaN

        Nor have I ever seen it in the South, Midwest, nor any place on the West Coast. Must be a strictly Eastern thing. I had always assumed it was simply a regional term for half-and-half, although, now that I think of it, in my Illinois youth there was a product called "coffee cream", which I believe was richer. But that was over 50 years ago.

      2. Thanks for starting this topic, Bob. To clarify, I haven't lived in KC for over twenty years, but haven't seen light cream any of the places I've lived since I was quite young. The last time I remember buying it was at a Kroger when I lived in central KY, and that was over twenty years ago. I've been in TX, NC, CA, KY, and KS, and not found it anywhere in all that time.

        1. Here in NYC light cream is generally available everywhere. Where I shop, 1/2n1/2, light cream, and heavy cream (a couple of brands each) are stocked. My father always ate summer blueberries in a bowl with light cream. I had no idea light cream was a regional thing.

          Though I'm not sure I've ever seen something called "whipping cream". I just thought that was what heavy cream was. Then again, I've never looked either.

          1 Reply
          1. re: LNG212

            Whipping cream is 30% butterfat - the lowest threshhold for whipping. Heavy cream is 36% butterfat and whips even better.

            Light cream is not abundant on LI, shall we say.

            To approximate your own light cream, add 9T (=4.5 fluid oz) of heavy cream to a cup of skim or 1% milk, or 7T (3.5 fluid oz) to a cup of whole milk.

          2. Oakland, CA. here. That's a big negative on the light cream. Never seen it outside of NJ/NY. Heavy cream out here is a whopping 40% fat and "whipping" cream is usually 36%. Whipping cream has gums & stabilizers added. Heavy cream; ingredient-cream. Is light cream radically different from 1/2 n' 1/2?

            4 Replies
            1. re: adamshoe

              To me it tastes different and has a different texture. But perhaps someone else has the actual butterfat or other pertinent info.

              1. re: LNG212

                Fat content of dairy products

                Nonfat milk: 0%-1%
                1% milk: 1%-2%
                Lowfat milk: 2%-4%
                Whole milk: 4%
                Half-and-half: 12%-15%
                Light cream: 18%-30% (generally unavailable)
                Whipping cream: 30%-36%
                Heavy whipping cream: 36%-44%
                Manufacturer's cream: 44%+

              2. re: adamshoe

                Yup. I've never seen "light cream" on the West Coast. For that matter, I don't remember ever seeing "heavy cream." Isn't it usually half and half, whipping cream and heavy whipping cream?

                1. re: adamshoe

                  OMG! Half and Half is just what it says, half lt cream and half milk?