Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Quebec (inc. Montreal) >
Oct 10, 2012 11:24 AM

Cream in Canada/Montreal

On a recent trip to Montreal I went to the supermarket (Metro) to buy some cream.

There were many varieties, of different fat percentages (5%-35%).

But all products seemed to have added ingredients, such as potassium sorbate, guar, xanthan gums etc.

I spent quite some time looking (much to the amusement of the guy restocking the shelves!) at all the different brands, but could not find one that was *just* cream, without additives.

Is this normal for dairy/cream products in Canada?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Yes, this is normal practice. You'll basically have to find a cow if you're looking for cream that hasn't been stabilized in this way.

    7 Replies
    1. re: afoodyear

      Thanks for the quick reply! I fear we might have eaten the cow at Joe Beef the night before.

      Searching online an Ontario blog mentioned Hewitt's 35% whipping cream being all-cream:

      So are the additives something specific to Quebec?

      1. re: almostalwayshungry

        It's not specific to Quebec. It's specific to big industrial dairies all over North-America and the world. Where do you live that they have only cream with no additives?

          1. re: almostalwayshungry

            You're lucky to live in a country where consumers care enough about these sorts of issues to demand, healthy, traceable and natural food. We here are not quite there yet.

            1. re: SnackHappy

              Considering the perceived food/foodie culture in Montreal/QC I'm surprised this is the case.

              1. re: almostalwayshungry

                We do like our food, but we don't really care that much where it comes from or what's in it. Things are starting to change a bit, but it's still a niche market. Even though we've been through a few food scares concerning industrially produced meats, nothing here has had the impact that mad cow had in the UK.

                1. re: almostalwayshungry

                  there are a number of organic brands in most grocery stores

      2. There are a few brands that offer cream without additives, but they aren't necessarily easy to find. Beurrerie du patrimoine is one of them.

        2 Replies
        1. re: SnackHappy

          PA is now carrying it - at least they were last week. Getting easier to find, thankfully!

          1. re: SnackHappy

            I love their goat's milk. Unhomogenised, you need to shake the container to get rid of most of the clotted chunks, but this just invokes a racial memory of farm-fresh milk.
            I've made a cheddar and a batch of goat cheese with this milk, and am super please with the results.

          2. Liberte now has an organic line which offers "cream" only 35% cream. Go figure.

            1. If you go to Marché des saveurs du Québec (at Jean-Talon Market), you should find at least two creams that only list cream as ingredients. Beurrerie du Patrimoine and another one. I know it's not much but at least there's some hope.

              1. Organic Meadow is the other brand of cream available, Harmony too but I can't say I've noticed their cream on the shelves, only their milk.

                Ferme Groleau lists some sort of celery extract in their cream ingredients, not sure how this affects taste or composition. I highly recommend their yogurts and milks, their chocolate milk uses unsweetened cocoa.

                14 Replies
                1. re: JerkPork

                  Really??? Does it list cultured celery extract?

                  1. re: JerkPork

                    Really? I can see how they could list celery extract as an ingredient in their charcuterie, but in their cream?

                    1. re: SnackHappy

                      Sorry, "sel de céleri en lacto fermentation" is what is listed in their ingredients. Anyone know what the celery salt does?

                      1. re: JerkPork

                        Other than providing flavour, the only other reason you'd want celery in anything was for the nitrates as an anti-microbial agent (Celery salt is about 50% Sodium Nitrate). Botulism = bad.

                        From looking over their process, Groleau is doing it right for a truly artisanal product. There are many ways of pasteurizing milk. You can do it quickly over high temp for a short period of time, which basically kills ALL pathogens, or you can do it at lower temperatures for longer which preserves some of the good stuff, especially if you want to use it to make any sort of cheese. Obviously the large producers are looking for efficiency and safety so go with the high heat short time pasteurization method.

                        1. re: Zalbar

                          I am pretty shocked that they would use this additive in their product. I don't know very much about the subject so I hope someone more knowledgeable will chime in. But there is a lot of research that indicates that the use of sodium nitrate, which converts to sodium nitrite, is very VERY bad for you. I am sure there are counter studies but I do my best to avoid it when alternative products exist. Last year in China 3 children died from milk tainted with nitrite. I don't know what the concentration was but nevertheless...

                          Now again I don't know much about this subject. My wife is a biologist and she says we should try to avoid it when we can. I still occasionally eat charcuterie though I try to purchase only those that are nitrite free. But for milk, I see no reason for nitrite. Pasteurization might not be perfect, but if all the studies are true it is far better than sodium nitrite.

                          Now the big question is whether "sel de céleri en lacto fermentation" is cultered celery extract. I believe it is.

                          1. re: nextguy

                            I have an email from the dairy concerned, they are advising that the celery extract used is organic and is only used in the 15% cream and is used to extend the shelf life of the cream and is not used in their other dairy creams. The name itself is at least recognizable and does not alarm me.

                            1. re: Ruthie789

                              Would you be more or less alarmed if it said it said Sodium Nitrite? Because that's exactly what it is.

                              1. re: SnackHappy

                                How do you get sodium nitrite from celery salt extract? I get that salt is sodium but where do the nitrates come in? Do you have the specific breakdown from the producers to assess that it is a chemical nitrate or is it natural in its composition? Only 1 of their dairy products has this, and with the explanation that they have given I think their overall products are excellent. I am still not alarmed about the celery salt extract, looking at all the effort into producing the milk products offered, I think they have put much study and effort in their products.

                                1. re: Ruthie789

                                  Celery contains natural sodium nitrate (sodium nitrate is "natural", just as sodium chloride is natural. Chemicals are natural!) and when you culture celery extract (as appears to be described in the ingredient list - sel de céleri en lacto fermentation) you can produce larger quantities of sodium nitrate, which you can then use to treat food in order to prevent the growth of botulism etc, thus preserving its shelf life

                                  1. re: unlaced

                                    Thank you for your explanation. Are you alarmed that it is being used? I am not. Looking at the larger picture, I am seeing that they are an organic farm, and that all of their creams and milks are made with care and without additives with the exception of the 15% cream.

                                    1. re: Ruthie789

                                      I'm not sure I understand your position. Are you saying that it's ok for them to use nitrites because they're organic? How do you feel about nitrates/nitrites in general? I myself don't really have a problem with them, especially if the producer adds ascorbic acid or a similar substance, but a lot of people freak out about nitrates/nitrites and falsely believe that buying organic protects them from the stuff.

                                      1. re: SnackHappy

                                        I do not buy much organic produce in general as I find it expensive. I also do not eat convenience foods, canned soups, frozen dinners due to health issues so no I do not feel comfortable eating preservatives and foods high in salt content. As for the product in question, I am not sure that we can eliminate all preservatives from food. Sometimes a purchase is the lesser of two evils. The owners of the dairy have emailed me and explained that they do use this preservative to extend the shelf life but that other 15% creams have a much longer shelf life probably because the contents have more preservatives extending the expiration date up to 2 months. Food purists want 100% natural but the shelf life of these type of foods is far less. Lately I have changed my purchasing habits, I do buy lactose free organic milk and make smaller purchases of meat on a day to day per needs basis. (I buy my meat from a butcher based on recent events.) Finally not knowing enough about nitrates and this one in particular, I can only assess for myself on their overall products as to their quality and organic virtues. I think they make good products.

                                        1. re: SnackHappy

                                          it's legitimate to be concerned over nitrites - if not for the increased risk of cancer, but for the increased centralization of food production that preservation allows.

                                          1. re: catroast

                                            Only one of their creams has the celery extract in it, the others do not. I do not eat prepared meats due to the nitrite content, and agree we should be concerned about it. Not sure how much nitrite content is in the cream. I see that they have made so much effort to make their products organic and believe that they produce very good products.