In the past when most households had milk delivered in bottles, there would have been arguments over who got ‘the top of the milk’; the creamier and richer part, on their breakfast cereal. However now most milk sold in supermarkets has undergone a process called homogenisation, which breaks up the fat globules in the milk, distributing them evenly throughout, so that the cream does not rise to the top.
Cream is the fatty part of milk, and contains all its main components but in different proportions. Cream is defined as ‘the part of milk rich in fat which has been separated by skimming or otherwise’ in the UK.
The separation of milk fat from the non-fat solids portion of milk allows the preparation of creams with different fat content, viscosity and thickness making them suitable for different uses.
Pasteurised cream accounts for most of the cream produced and there are a number of different creams within this category; half, single, whipping and double cream, described by their varying fat content.
Other creams include dairy cream (extra thick), sterilised (canned) cream, soured cream and UHT creams; these can be canned or spray creams.
Cream is used as an ingredient in many foods, including ice cream, some custards, many sauces, soups and is also used for some cakes.
Cream consists of mainly fat and moisture in varying proportions depending on the type of cream; it is energy-dense and contains small quantities of other nutrients. Cream can be enjoyed in small quantities as part of a healthy diet.