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USA heavy cream vs UK double cream

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  • BevRS May 2, 2012 11:17 AM
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I am British but sometimes spend a few weeks in the US. All I can get in stores there is "heavy cream" which is heat-treated and tastes horrible as a result....
In the UK we can get fresh double cream (which is, as the title suggests, fresh, and pasteurised, but not ultra heat treated like heavy cream). It has a higher fat content than heavy cream - it is delicious and readily available.
I wonder whether there is anywhere (dairies, delicatessens, farms?) where it's possible to get cream that hasn't been through the ultra heat treating process with the subsequent flavor issue?
Any help on this would be much appreciated.

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  1. I am American but spend a fair amount of time in the UK with my husband's family, and I do a lot of cooking there. You will not find anything here like Double Cream. Even Single cream is far better than American Whipping Cream.

    2 Replies
    1. re: dulcie54

      Thanks for your reply, Dulcie. At the risk of sounding a bit UK-centered, I don't understand why Americans put up with this awful stuff. I loathe the flavour of UHT milk etc, and heavy cream has that taste. My husband thinks the problem may be that stuff has to travel so far in the States before reaching the stores, and so has to be "preserved" by the UHT process. I cannot believe that there is not a dairy producer within a reasonable distance of any store or supermarket in the whole of Florida (which is where we usually spend time). Oh dear, I think I'm ranting. Sorry. But thanks again for your reply. And enjoy the cream when you're in the UK!!

      1. re: BevRS

        Florida probably isn't the optimal climate for dairying. Although the grasses grow, given the heat and humidity, it probably isn't as nutritious.

    2. It may depend on your location in the US, but I have no trouble finding heavy cream that is not ultrapasteurized or with added stabilizers, from local organic dairies here in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you're in a part of the US where there is Trader Joe's, they sell it.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

        Thanks, Caitlin - that's really interesting and helpful. I have always thought that there must be places like the organic dairies you describe. We usually spend time in Florida each year, so I've just checked out Trader Joe's website - they have a store in the Sarasota area so I'll definitely go there next time! Thanks again for your help!

      2. I've only been to the UK once, and I know nothing about pasteurization or stabilizers or any of that stuff, and it is really irrelevant to me. But, the OP is right, as far as I can tell. It is impossible to get UK-style double cream around here.

        This is funny. I had a colleague and friend in from the UK a couple weeks ago. I treated him to dinner at my house one evening, and he returned the favor. For dessert, he had bought an apple pie from a local grocer along with heavy cream since, as he explained, they usually put double cream on their apple pie at home. He was looking for double cream but couldn't find it and got heavy cream instead.

        Anyway, I know a girl that will pour a little heavy cream into her coffee, but the only things I use heavy cream for is creme brulee and whipping. So, I explained to my British friend that we should whip the heavy cream, to have real whipped cream. By the time we got to dessert, though, we were both quite intoxicated and full from a wonderful salad and mushroom risotto and unwilling to actually put any work into dessert. So he just poured some heavy cream over his slice of pie. The thought and sight of the whole thing was a little unsettling. I decided to pass on such an application of heavy cream and ate my pie without adornments, although I did briefly consider nuking it with a nice piece of cheddar he had procured, just to show him a variation on the apple pie he had not experienced.

        I had heard of, but never seen, double cream, and did not know how it was different from other forms of cream. So once I got home I researched into the whole difference, and, going off on a tangential thread, I resolved to try and make some homemade cheese. It's on the list, below many other important food endeavors.

        2 Replies
        1. re: MonMauler

          Thanks, MonMauler. Dinner at your place sounds fun..... Apple pie and cheddar is not unheard of in the UK - also eating fresh apples with cheese.
          The thing about heavy cream is the flavour - it just doesn't taste fresh because of the pasteurisation process. Also the difference in fat content also affects the flavour. Do you know, the best cream I've found in the US is a good sour cream. thanks for your interesting reply - and good luck with the home-made cheese.....

          1. re: BevRS

            Hi, BevRS. You are always welcome to dinner. Hit me up if you ever make it to Pittsburgh, PA. I always try to prepare interesting and tasty meals.

            Anyway, I assumed that apple pie with cheddar was not unheard of in the UK, but my friend just wasn't familiar with such a dish.

            In researching double cream after that evening, I assumed that double cream would be so much tastier because of such a higher fat content. (The secret ingredient is fat!).

            Your comment about sour cream interests me, though. I do love sour cream, and I regularly use it; however, I'm curious to know where or what type of sour cream you sampled over here. I've always used BK sour cream (I think that's the commercial name, not really sure) because that's what my mother always purchased. Have you found another brand to be extraordinary? I am always looking to branch out...

            Homemade cheese may have to wait a little bit. Not sure if I'll get that far down my food "bucket list" before you're able to make it to my part of the country. I do plan on having home-brewing somewhat solidified in the short term, though, if you enjoy some tasty beer...

        2. Here's a link that may help you understand the difference.

          http://whatscookingamerica.net/Sauces....

          Here in France 'Creme Entier' is only 35 -38% butterfat. Heavier creams are hard to find.

          1. Raw cream is extremely rare in the US, because most states ban the sale of raw milk and cream. Florida is one of those. Some states permit certain farms with certain licenses to sell raw liquid dairy products directly to the public, but that's a minority practice. http://www.realmilk.com/milk-laws-1.html

            The US covers a very different terrain and arrays of climate than the UK, and as a result its dairy practices vary a lot (consider that a good hunk of the USA is either subtropical or arid): dairy cannot be local in much of the US, so it's shipped hundreds or even a thousand more more miles.

            Ultrapasteurized (and stabilizer-enhanced...cough) cream is, sadly, the norm in US supermarkets because it's more shelf-stable, and frankly most Americans use it for purposes where they cannot tell the difference. Finding cream that has been pasteurized more gently is a challenge, typically in better food markets that charge a premium for wastage thereof.

            7 Replies
            1. re: Karl S

              Thanks Karl. Yes, raw milk and cream is also rare in the UK. Our fresh cream and milk that is available in supermarkets etc is gently pasteurised, so that the flavour is hardly affected at all. Of course the distances such products travel are much shorter than in the US. However, next time we're there I shall regard it as a bit of a challenge to see if I can find a similar product.

              1. re: BevRS

                And that gentle pasteurization (which, for American readers, is different from "regular" pasteurization, and of course even more different from UHT ultra-pasteurization) process is relatively rare in the USA, reserved for boutique dairies that sell very locally to a discerning clientele.

                1. re: Karl S

                  As far as I'm aware, there are 4 possible processes:

                  LTLT (low temperature, long time) pasteurisation - this is the best, but very hard indeed to find outside a few devoted local dairies

                  HTST (high temperature, short time) pasteurisation - not as bad as ultra-pasteurisation, but the cream is still brought to a very high temperature for a short time, which does affect the flavour.

                  Ultra-Pasteurisation - here the cream is basically brought to a full boil for a fairly long time, with predictable effects on flavour

                  Ultra-high-temperature (UHT) pasteurisation: in this process, I believe, using high pressure the cream is actually brought above boiling; the result is thoroughly sterilised but really has a very cooked flavour indeed. True UHT cream is typically stored unopened on ordinary shelves, unlike the other 3 which are usually kept in the fridge when unopened.

                  1. re: AlexRast

                    "LTLT (low temperature, long time) pasteurisation - this is the best, but very hard indeed to find outside a few devoted local dairies"

                    But it IS being done. I know of two, possibly more in New York that use this process.

                    1. re: MacGuffin

                      I'm so glad to see that this discussion has taken off again -especially as we are planning to be in Florida in February.
                      Thanks to everyone who has replied......
                      but I think I will continue to struggle to find something like our UK double cream. I shall certainly seek out "devoted local dairies" - any help with this will be much appreciated and will also check out Wholefoods and other quality supermarkets etc. However I have tried to do this on every US trip (most recently to Hawaii) without success. Oh well - the search/challenge continues!

                      1. re: BevRS

                        I wish you good luck but I doubt you'll find what you want in any sort of supermarket, including Whole Foods. :(( If you can find a store that specializes in, say, cheese, you might have more luck.

              2. re: Karl S

                Not that it really helps this discussion, but I thought that you might be interested to know that in France there are now raw milk kiosks outside many of the major supermarkets.
                You can bring your own container or buy one. They're coin operated. Amazing!!

                This is all an effort to reduce the 'milk lake' brought on by over production due to too many subsidies to the diary farmers.

                No cream available though.

              3. You may be able to get non-UHT cream if there's a local dairy in your area that sells it (which you won't find in a supermarket, but possibly at smaller local groceries, farmer's markets. farmstands, etc.). This may be tough in Florida - it's not really a dairy state.

                Even if you do find non-UHT cream, it won't have the fat content you're looking for. The breeds of cow that make the fattiest milk are generally not that common in the US - American dairy herds have mostly been bred for volume, not butterfat.

                1 Reply
                1. re: benbenberi

                  Thanks, benenberi. This is a challenge - next time we're in Florida I shall work hard on sourcing non-UHT milk and cream!

                2. If you live near a Wegmans or Whole Foods, there is a very good chance that you will be able to find imported (from England) Double Cream (and Clotted Cream) there. They are usually in a fridge near the Cheese and not that close to the regular butter, milk and yogurt section.

                  Also, if you are interested in getting a better quality (Single) Cream in America, look for Pasteurized (and not Ultra-Pasteurized) Cream at places like Whole Foods. A few brands found in the Pennsylvania and NJ area are Natural by Nature and Trickling Springs Creamery.

                  Lastly, if you are really really hungry for the stuff, you can get Raw Cream in some states. For instance, Pennsylvania and California definitely has it, while places like NJ don't (against the law). However, you will need to go to the actual dairy farm to get it (if they carry it).

                  ================

                  I just noticed that you said it is Florida where you spend much of your time. Again, there is a Whole Foods in Sarasota, and I would bet that they have imported Double Cream there. Also, if you were interested in getting real, grass fed raw cream, you can find sources here: http://realmilk.com/where02.html#fl

                  Best of luck.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: DougRisk

                    Thanks DougRisk. Tell you what, though... the imported Double Cream will definitely have been ultra heat treated because of the long journey from the UK. Thanks for all your advice.

                    1. re: BevRS

                      BevRs, this is the Double Cream that I have bought at Whole Foods and Wegmans:
                      http://www.amazon.com/English-Double-...

                      The packaging says, "English Double Devon Cream created by Christopher Brookes is a genuine Devon Cream produced in the southwest of England. This rich, buttery spread is perfect on scones, muffins, fresh fruit and as a gourmet ingredient in sauces and desserts. C. Brookes Manor Double Devon Cream is made with pure 100% pasteurized milk. Net Net Weight: 5.5 oz each"

                    2. re: DougRisk

                      It's not a given that, if selling raw (unpasteurized) milk is legal in a state, selling raw cream will also be legal there. California allows the sale of both raw milk and raw milk products, including cream. However, in Pennsylvania, one can buy raw milk, but not raw cream. The only other raw milk product legal in Pennsylvania is cheese (if it conforms to federal law of being aged at least 60 days). Concerning raw milk and raw milk products, the US is a patchwork quilt of individual state regulations, which can be found here:

                      http://realmilk.com/happening.html#fl

                      1. re: cheesemaestro

                        CheeseMaestro, while I don't disagree with your statement about Raw Milk being legal versus Raw Cream being legal, I can assure you that Raw Milk is absolutely legal in PA.

                        I have bought lots of Raw Milk at:
                        Hendricks Farms and Dairy in Telford
                        3 different "brands" of Raw Milk at the Fair Food Farmstand in the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia
                        Raw Milk at Shady Brook Farm in Newtown, PA, and,
                        Raw Milk at Essene Market in Philadelphia.

                        However, of all of those places mentioned, only Hendricks carries Raw Cream and Raw Butter.

                        The Raw Cream is the hardest to get, since it must be sold on the farm...same with Raw Butter.

                        And, as I had posted it previously, I am very familiar with RealMilk.com.

                        1. re: DougRisk

                          Doug, please reread my post. I never said that raw milk was illegal in PA. What I did write was: "However, in Pennsylvania, one can buy raw milk, but not raw cream." I, too, live in PA and there are several dairies and stores selling raw cow's milk and/or goat's milk in my area (central PA).

                          It's been ages since I visited Hendricks Farm, but if Trent Hendricks is selling cream and butter made from raw milk, I assume that he is doing so "under the table" and without the approval of the state Department of Agriculture. As I noted, cheese is the only raw milk product (besides milk itself) that can be legally sold in PA, because it is the only one that has a standard of identity in the regulations. It makes no difference whether it is sold on or off the farm. The state wouldn't not have issued a permit to Hendricks or any other producer to sell raw cream or butter. I know that you're familiar with RealMilk.com, as am I, but take at look again at the entry for PA.

                          A trick that some people have used in states where sales of raw milk products are illegal is to sell them as pet food, since most states' regulations cover only human consumption. Still, that's a pretty risky strategy, and might get a dairy into trouble if the state determines that the products are not, in fact, being purchased for animals.

                          1. re: cheesemaestro

                            You are right, I did misread the part about Raw Milk, though, not Raw Cream.

                            That, you can still buy in PA, though, it is not that easy.

                            Trent is not selling the butter under the table, but the cream is a little more difficult to get. They had a BS run-in with the Penn Dept of Agric. that made them paranoid.

                            However, again, the butter is sold, out in the open, in the fridge, even after the run-in with the Dept of Agriculture.

                            Raw Butter, as I understand it, is illegal to distribute to outside conventional markets in PA, but it is not illegal to sell at the farm, with the proper sellers permit.

                            re: Pet Food

                            Yes, I have done that a few times.

                    3. We have a few small dairies here in New York (Evans, Grazin' Angus Acres) who have all-Jersey herds and who sell heavy cream. While not as thick as double cream, it's MUCH thicker than what you can find in the supermarket and it's pasteurized at the lowest legal temperature and retains a fresh flavor. Finding such a dairy might be the answer to your problem, especially given the difficulty in finding raw dairy products.

                      1. My experience with the USA is that it *can* be possible to get cream which isn't abysmal - but much depends on where you go. If you go to urban, sophisticated places where a food culture is in place, e.g. San Francisco or New York or Seattle, then such things are easy to find. If, on the other hand, you go to somewhere outside the main urban centres, in less-connected states like Idaho or Mississippi or South Dakota (choosing a random sample - I'm not singling out anywhere for any particular reason), finding good cream may be difficult unless you have reliable local contacts.

                        That said, there is absolutely no equivalent to double cream in the USA, as far as I've seen. Cream with the 45-50% fat content of double cream is as far as I've been able to tell, completely unavailable and unheard of. The best I've seen is good "heavy cream" with 40% fat. It *is* possible to find that in "pasteurised" rather than "ultra-pasteurised" form, although it may take some searching again.

                        Inexplicably, cream labelled "whipping cream" doesn't whip - at least not very well; you'll never get it to the nice stiffness that double cream reaches in seconds. Proper American heavy cream whips reasonably effectively though.
                        In terms of widely distributed brands, the best I've found is Organic Valley; you have to be careful because some is pasteurised but some is ultra-pasteurised, and the cartons look identical other than this wording (you want the former, not the latter).

                        At the risk of sounding chauvinistic, I'd claim British cream is quite simply the best in the world - and the best farms here provide cream against which even the best of foreign competition has no chance. We have higher expectations here with respect to cream - in much the same way as, e.g. expectations in Italy are higher with respect to coffee or tomatoes, or for that matter expectations in America are higher with respect to sweetcorn - and these expectations are borne out in better general standards.