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Jun 13, 2011 01:23 AM

Comparing French milk & cream to US milk & cream

I've just moved to France, and am trying to figure out the variations of French milk and cream and how they compare to US milk and cream. I've googled and have yet to find a chart that lists what's what and how it compares to the US version. Right now, I'd really like to figure out what half & half is in France. Is there such a thing here?


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  1. There is no half-and-half in France.
    Lait entier is whole milk.
    UHT milk is ultra-high-temperature-sterilized milk.
    Lait demi-écrémé is partially skimmed milk.
    Crème liquide or crème fleurette is heavy cream.
    Crème fraîche is crème fraîche.
    There is no sour cream.
    Lait ribot or lben (similar products) can be compared to buttermilk.

    (That's for the main stuff you'll find in the milk and cream department.)

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ptipois

      Very helpful, thank you! I did some searching and found a previous board where I think it was you that suggested crème légère ib place of half & half?

      1. re: Ptipois

        lait fermentee subs well for buttermilk, too.

      2. Best tip is to buy some European cookbooks (French will help with language skills) and use local recipes. It is very wearing trying to adapt recipes better to go native.

        3 Replies
        1. re: PhilD

          but sometimes you just gotta make something familiar, and why stop making family favourites if you can find ingredients that will work?

          and more for the OP:

          lait concentree non-sucree is evaporated milk.

          lait concentree sucree is sweetened condensed milk.

          Creme Fouette is whipped cream in a can

          1. re: sunshine842

            I agree sometimes you need familiar. But having moved countries a number of times I found the sooner you adapt to local ingredients the easier life becomes. Cream/Milk is particularly tricky as many recipes require the right fat content to work properly.

            The one thing I always struggled with in France was frozen pastry - I always seemed to buy the wrong type and don't think I ever found good frozen puff pastry.

            1. re: PhilD

              Actually I don't think there is. Except perhaps the pâte François available at G. Detou, 15 euros for 3 kg.
              Does the OP also want us to go into different types of fromage blanc and yogurt? That can be a headache so maybe some help is needed.

        2. Note also that French milk may seem richer to you than US milk. I know it does to me. Even French skim milk (écrémé) has body and mouthfeel, which ours does not.