A reader who was having difficulty getting cream to whip wrote to ask if we had any advice. Here’s the answer:
It’s the fat content of cream which determines its richness and whipping characteristics. Thus you need a certain minimum of fat in the cream or you won’t be able to whip it. The most common types of cream available are:
Double cream (48% fat): can be used as a rich pouring cream, whipped, or floated in coffee or soup.
Whipping cream (35%): will double its volume when whipped and is less likely than double cream to curdle (or turn to butter) if over-whipped.
Single cream (18%): can be used as a pouring cream or to enrich soups or sweet dishes.
UHT cream: double, whipping, or single cream is subjected to ultra-heat treatment to preserve it. There is a slight change in flavour but the fat content is unaffected.
The answer therefore seems to be that regardless of whether the cream is fresh or UHT, or of its origin, it’s the fat content that’s important. Look out for cream that’s at least 35% fat and you should be able to whip it. Hope this helps!
Since I first wrote this page, we now have a much more comprehensive set of articles about cream in the UK, US, and Australia on our sister site Not Delia: