Cream is a popular pantry item. How many types are you aware of? Which is your favorite? Here are 8 common types of creams and their shelf life.
1. Sour cream
As its name suggests, sour cream is obtained from fermentation. This can either be done naturally through a starter or with the aid of an acid such as vinegar or lactic acid. Additionally, you can use live culture.
Sour cream has a tart, biting taste. It makes a regular appearance in all sorts of cooking. For instance, you can use it to thicken soups; spread it on toast or baked items; use it as a dip; it works as a liquid in batter mixtures; use it to bind salad ingredients as well as incorporate it in smoothies.
How long does sour cream last? (In the fridge)
Commercially packaged sour cream comes with a sell by date. Whether opened or unopened, it keeps well in the refrigerator.
Unopened cans keep well for 3 weeks after the sell by date.
On the other hand, use opened ones within 2 weeks.
Can you freeze sour cream?
It is not advisable to freeze sour cream, as its texture will change. Freezing causes the liquids to separate.
However, if you have frozen some, use within 6 months. Moreover, due to the change in texture, use it in cooking, rather than as a spread.
2. Clotted cream
This type has its origin in England, where it is commonly made in Devon and Cornwall. It is popularly used as a spread for scones, taken with tea.
Traditional clotted cream is made using whole-fat cow’s milk. The milk is indirectly heated in a double boiler for a full day, until clots of cream rise to the surface. The cream is then scooped and packaged.
How long does fresh clotted cream last?
Fresh clotted cream keeps well in the fridge. Opened jars last for 4 days, depending on how you refrigerate it. Unopened jars keep longer, up to 14 days.
How long does frozen clotted cream last?
If you have to freeze, use airtight containers and keep the jars unopened. Use within 6 months. This is ideal since the longer it stays frozen, the drier it becomes.
3. Half and half
What is half and half anyway? You may muse! Well, this is a popular phrase used to refer to diverse things. For example, you can have a glass of 2 soft drinks mixed in equal measure.
Nonetheless, in the world of cream, it is simply a mixture of cream and milk, in equal ratios. Original recipes use whole milk and heavy cream.
However, other variations use light cream. The end result is a cream that is lighter than heavy cream, but thicker than milk. It also contains low fat content, about 12%. Therefore, it is popularly used in coffee shops, as a creamer. Additionally, it cannot be whipped like heavy cream.
Shelf life of half and half (at room temperature or in the fridge)
Some commercially packaged half and half are made shelf stable, hence can last a whopping 6 months at room temperature. Other than that, always refrigerate any store-bought or homemade ones. Well refrigerated ones last for 1 week, if opened.
How long does half and half last? (In the freezer)
You can freeze half and half, but the contents will separate after sometime. Under a constant temperature of 0°, it keeps well for 4 months.
4. Heavy cream
It is named thus as it contains high level of fat content, in comparison to most cream varieties. For a cream to be considered heavy, it has to have 36% or more of fat.
Heavy cream is obtained when fresh milk is left undisturbed, resulting in a thick cream rising to the top. Even just a dollop of heavy cream is enough to transform any light sauce or soup into a rich, thick one.
How long does heavy cream last? (In the fridge)
It turns out that heavy cream is quite a keeper. When well refrigerated, opened cartons last for 1 week. On the other hand, unopened cans last for 2 months.
Can you freeze heavy cream?
Yes! Heavy cream can be frozen, but once thawed, it may not give effective results like its fresh counterpart.
When freezing heavy cream, leave some headspace for expansion. Well frozen heavy cream lasts up to 4 months.
5. Double cream
Among the 8 common creams and their shelf life, double cream is the mother of thickness. It contains fat content of up to 48% or more.
Double cream is more popular in the UK, and is used as a topping for cakes, pies, fruits and other desserts. It also forms a stronger texture when whipped, compared to whipping cream.
Shelf life of double cream (In the fridge or freezer)
Double cream keeps well either frozen or refrigerated. In the fridge, use it within 3 weeks at most. When frozen, it lasts up to 4 months.
6. Light cream
After half and half, light cream takes the second spot in low fat content. Containing roughly 18% to 25% fat, it is popularly used in coffee shops, like half and half. It is also easy to drizzle over desserts, add to sauces and soups.
How long does light cream last? (In the freezer)
Light cream keeps well in the freezer, way past its ‘best by’ date. It remains in good quality for up to 4 months.
Shelf life of light cream (in the fridge)
Once opened, light cream spoils quickly. As such, refrigerate and use within 14 days at most.
7. Whipping cream
Is it the same as heavy cream?
This is essentially a lighter version of heavy cream. It contains slightly lower fat content – between 30-36%.
As its name suggests, whipping cream is mostly whipped into either soft or firm peaks and used in various ways. These include: Meringues, cake frosts, as a topping for hot beverages as well as folded into baked items, which results in fluffy products.
How long does whipping cream last? (In the fridge)
Refrigerate any unused whipping cream. It keeps well for up to 2 weeks.
How long does frozen whipping cream last?
Besides freezing in its original package, you can creatively freeze whipping cream in various ways – whip into peaks and freeze each individual peak. Alternatively, you can pour into ice molds, flash freeze and pack into freezer bags.
Whichever way you choose, well frozen whipping cream lasts up to 4 months.
Shelf life of canned whipping cream (in the fridge)
Besides the usual whipping cream in cartons or bottles, there are canned varieties. These are meant to be refrigerated once opened.
In the fridge, they have a shelf life of up to 4 months.
How to tell if cream has gone bad
Besides knowing the 8 common creams and their shelf life, how to spot spoilage is also crucial. Here are few pointers:
- Discoloration is a clear indicator.
- Mold patches on the surface.
- Change in texture – the cream becomes extremely runny or contents begin to separate.