The dairy product cream consists of the layers of high butterfat which is skimmed off the top of milk before it is homogenized. In milk that has not been homogenized, the lighter fat will rise to the top over time. During industrial cream production, centrifuges known as separators are used to accelerate this process. Many countries sell their cream in several grades. Each different grade is determined by its total content of butterfat. It is possible to dry cream into a powder, so it can be shipped to far away markets.
- Whey Cream
The cream skimmed from the top of milk is often referred to as sweet cream. This is done to distinguish it from so-called whey cream, which has been skimmed from whey. Whey is a by-product of making cheese. The fat content in whey is lower, and it has a salty, tangy and almost cheese-like taste.
- Colors of Cream
Cream produced from milk that has come from cows, in particular Jersey cattle, that have been left to graze on natural pastures frequently contains natural carotenoid pigments. These come from the plants the cows eat and give the cream a slight, yellowish coloring. This is where the name of that yellowish-white color, cream originated. Cream made from goat's milk is white, as is the cream from cows that have been fed indoors, eating grain or pellets that are grain-based.
- Cream in the USA
In the USA, cream is generally sold with fat percentages like this:
Half and half, at 10.5 to 18%
Table, light, or coffee cream, at 18 to 30%
Medium cream, at 25%
Whipping cream, or light whipping cream, at 30 - 36%
Whipping cream, heavy, at 36% or over
Double, manufacturer's, or extra heavy cream, at 38 to 40% or over