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Uh oh. Your recipe calls for heavy cream and you’re not sure—is that the same as whipping cream? This handy article should help you sort through all the terminology that’s used for cream.

Here are the creams commonly available in BC:

  • 6% cream is often called light cream
  • 10% cream is often called half-and-half and sometimes called cereal cream
  • 18% cream can be called table cream or coffee cream 
  • 33-36% cream is whipping cream. Heavy cream has at least 36% milk fat

If you have recipes from the UK, you might see references to double cream. This is cream with 48% milk fat (MF), which is not available in BC. Use whipping cream instead.

In the UK, you’ll also see reference to single cream. This is equivalent to our 18% cream.

The term light cream can be especially confusing. In the US and Australia it means 18% cream. In Canada, light cream refers to a product with 5-6% milk fat. You can make your own light cream by blending milk with half-and-half.

Québec has a product called ‘country cream’, which contains 15% milk fat. If you are using a recipe that calls for country cream, you may substitute 18% cream.

If you are interested in cooking with cream, check out some of our recipes! Cold Cream and Strawberry Soup uses 10% cream, and Creamy Sweet Potato and Turnip Soup calls for both 10% and 33% cream.

What about crème fraîche? While this isn’t always easy to find, you can readily make this product at home. Mix 250 mL of whipping cream with 15 mL of buttermilk. Heat the mixture to 30° C (86° F). Let stand at room temperature until thickened (about 12–24 hours). Refrigerate.

Finally, you might come across recipes that call for clotted cream or Devonshire cream. Devonshire Cream is clotted cream made in the Devon region of England. Clotted cream is a thick, spreadable cream, the consistency of butter, with at least 55% MF. The cream is made by slowly heating and cooling a very thick cream. The heating imparts a nutty, sweet flavor to the cream. Specialty stores and some supermarkets in BC will sell this, usually under the label of Devonshire cream. Mock clotted cream can be made by combining either sour cream, mascarpone cheese or cream cheese with whipping cream.

Want to learn more about other dairy terms? Check out the Dairy Dictionary!

In a dairy pinch when cooking and baking? Learn about Dairy Exchanges with this handy chart.

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  • So glad you liked it Renee! It sounds like you really enjoy cooking. Love it!
  • I have made butter with 18% cream today. Had to mix it with the blender for the longest time and it gave a fluffier butter (whipped), and just about 1/2 c for 1L cream. Next time I will try the 35% see if it gi... more
    I have made butter with 18% cream today. Had to mix it with the blender for the longest time and it gave a fluffier butter (whipped), and just about 1/2 c for 1L cream. Next time I will try the 35% see if it gives me more. It tastes good though! less
  • Hi Renee. I have not made butter with light cream myself. I have made it with heavy, cream though. Technically it will make less butter with a lighter version of cream, but the difference in amount should b... more
    Hi Renee. I have not made butter with light cream myself. I have made it with heavy, cream though. Technically it will make less butter with a lighter version of cream, but the difference in amount should be negligible. Let us know how it turns out! less
  • Question: homemade butter. If I use a lighter creme, does it make less butter(because there is less fat) or same quantity as with heavier creme but lighter( with less fat in the content)?
  • Well, I did the maths and reducing 35% cream by about a quarter should push it up to about 45 or so % MF, which is close enough for jazz, IMO. Clark raised the issue of denaturing and I would do the reduction o... more
    Well, I did the maths and reducing 35% cream by about a quarter should push it up to about 45 or so % MF, which is close enough for jazz, IMO. Clark raised the issue of denaturing and I would do the reduction on a low heat over time and, I hope avoid that problem. The basis of my theory is how clotted cream is made where the cream is heated to evaporate the water and push the MF content to about 55%. I just thought why not apply the same principle to the production of double cream? I'll try it and let you folks know. (Now if I could just find some pure Jersey milk ...) less
  • Joel I think you will run into major issues with denaturing the protien. If you're talking about reducing using heat youll need to make sure the temp you hit doesn't reach the level where it will screw up you... more
    Joel I think you will run into major issues with denaturing the protien. If you're talking about reducing using heat youll need to make sure the temp you hit doesn't reach the level where it will screw up your clotting by destroying the proteins. Evaporation might be a better option but at that point you'll be introducing a lot of wild cultures. I don't know much about what you're talking about doing but I think those will be your hurdles - please post results! less
  • Hi Derek. Thank you for your comment, and no, it is not a silly question. To be honest, I have not tried that one myself. You have to take into account total volume loss, I would think. Try it out and let... more
    Hi Derek. Thank you for your comment, and no, it is not a silly question. To be honest, I have not tried that one myself. You have to take into account total volume loss, I would think. Try it out and let us know how it comes out. Maybe do a side a side comparison. I do have to mention, if you plan on storing your cream in the refrigerator after it has been reduced, make sure to keep proper food safety. In basic, keep cold foods cold, hot foods hot. Happy cooking! less
  • This may be a silly question but, if you take 35% cream and reduce it by about a quarter: will you wind up with a facsimile of double cream?
  • Hi Nancy. Thanks for the comment. My name is Joel and I am a new Nutrition Educator as BCDA. I am also a trained chef so I love answering questions about food. There are high milk fat creams available and t... more
    Hi Nancy. Thanks for the comment. My name is Joel and I am a new Nutrition Educator as BCDA. I am also a trained chef so I love answering questions about food. There are high milk fat creams available and they really hold up great in whipping creams and adding into soup. Even though your local store may not have creams with 36% milk fat, there are plenty of options with around 33% and they will be fantastic to use. Happy cooking! less
  • Why can't you get heavy cream in Canada? I am sure there is no good reason for it ...
  • Hi Clark, Most cheese is made from milk, not cream. And you can certainly make butter from whipping cream—we've done it many times! The products end up with a higher milk fat content because you've pressed ou... more
    Hi Clark, Most cheese is made from milk, not cream. And you can certainly make butter from whipping cream—we've done it many times! The products end up with a higher milk fat content because you've pressed out the whey. However, we know that some bakers would really like a higher fat cream than we have. You'll need to let the processors in BC know about your wish—if there is enough of a market for the product, maybe we'll see it emerge. less
  • Why can one not get real heavy cream in BC? It really hinders the ability to make cheese and butter. Seems very odd. Also the suggestion to just use whipping cream in its place seems extremely misleading. T... more
    Why can one not get real heavy cream in BC? It really hinders the ability to make cheese and butter. Seems very odd. Also the suggestion to just use whipping cream in its place seems extremely misleading. Thank you for any thoughts. less
  • Hi Kelsey, Thanks for your feedback. Glad you found it useful! Melissa Baker, RD
  • This is a very helpful article, thank you!

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