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Everything about industrial cream

5 July 2016

Various types of cream

Heat treatment (sterilisation, UHT, pasteurisation or thermisation), fat content, viscosity (liquid, semi-thick or thick), structure (whipped or whipping ) and packing methods (aseptic or not, jars, pouches, bottles, bricks…) are as many elements that help distinguish the numerous existing creams. These criteria may be combined, which gives, as a result, a broad range of creams:

  • Raw cream: undergoes no heat treatment. This cream is neither pasteurised, nor sterilised. It comes directly from skimming. The reference “raw” has to be written on the label.
  • Pasteurised cream: undergoes a heat treatment up to 72°C during 20 seconds. This kind of product is nevertheless more fragile than sterilised cream.
  • UHT cream: such cream is obtained from raw cream with a specific treatment. The Ultra High Temperature process means heating the cream at 145-150°C during 2 seconds before quickly cooling it. This heat treatment does not alter any of the nutritional, tasting and functional qualities of the cream. It is always better to refrigerate UHT creams before distributing them in order to improve their stability during storage. Stabilising agents (carrageenan) may be added in order to stabilise the product even more. Such agents improve emulsion stability during sterilisation and prevent creaming during storage. Finally it helps reaching the expected texture. Carrageenan is a seaweed that grows mainly on the continental slope off Brittany. It is dried and ground into a powder to be added to food in small quantity. It is a polysaccharide from red seaweed that may be used as thickening agent and stabilising agent in food industry.
  • Liquid cream: liquid and sweet, this cream has not been sown, which means there has been no addition of lactic ferments.
  • Thick cream: has been matured, meaning that the cream has been sown with lactic ferments. Cream matures in tanks during several hours in order to acidify, thicken and intensify its taste.
  • Crème fraîche: the designation “crème fraîche” is regulated by the decree from April 23rd 1980 (article 8). In order to be given the designation “crème fraîche”, the cream must comply with the following conditions: “undergo no sanitation heat treatment other than pasteurisation, be packed on the production location in the 24 hours following production”. As a result sterilised cream can’t obtain the designation “crème fraîche”.
  • Whipped cream: overrun emulsion obtained by introduction of air in the cream with an appropriate overrun at low-temperature (between 5 and 10°C for a 30% fat cream). To get a stable foam, the cream must be cold-stored for several hours (usually 24 hours) before overrun. This low-temperature maturation creates a partial fat-crystallisation: crucial step to obtain a foam with the right texture and stability. A compromise is indeed looked for between liquid fat release, gathering and partial coalescing of fat globules around air bubbles.
  • Crème Chantilly: the designation “Crème Chantilly” may only be used for whipped creams that have at least 30 grams of fat for 100 grams and in which no substance other than saccharose (semi-white, white or refined white sugar) or natural flavours have been added.
  • AOP creams: two types of cream with a protected designation of origin exist:
    • Isigny cream, guaranteed without additives or stabilisers, it is a thick (sown with lactic ferments) and pasteurised cream. This cream undergoes a traditional maturation, it is left at room temperature for 16 to 18 hours. This maturation develops in the cream a sweet and slightly acid taste. This excellent product has been rewarded as early as 1986 with a Designation Protection of Origin (AOP)
    • Bresse cream, exists in semi-thick or thick. Both creams have been rewarded with an AOP.
  • Acid cream: obtained from bacterial fermentation that produces lactic acid. This cream is broadly used in Anglo-Saxon countries, where it is called “sour cream”.

Cream manufacturing processes

5  main steps:

  1. Skimming, centrifugation: separation of fat globules in milk. Milk skimming is done in a centrifugal cream separator.
  2. Fat standardisation: in order to obtain the expected fat content.
  3. Homogenisation: to prevent the creaming phenomenon during storage and to allow an increase in cream viscosity (for low-fat fluid creams)
  4. Heat treatment: the objective is to inactivate microbial lipases and as a result destroy pathogenic germs without damaging the cream organoleptic qualities. Most creams are pasteurised.
  5. Seeding and maturation: pasteurised creams may be matured with acidifying, aromatic or even thickening mesophilic lactic bacteria. Maturation gives more taste to the creams and protects it against lactic acid and bacteriocin production.

Main industrial uses of cream

Cream is used in many areas of the food industry, such as:

  • Chocolate manufacturing: cream is used in some formulations, such as chocolate stuffing.
  • Bakery, Pastry and Viennese Pastry: cream is used for stuffing in pastries, mostly for its taste and emulsifying capacities (in particular in whipped cream and mousse).
  • Fresh dairy products: cream is used in most products: cream dessert, dairy dessert, fresh cheese spread, ice cream… Cream fat gives a soft texture and more flavour.
  • Biscuit manufacturing: cream may be used for stuffing or for the biscuit itself.
  • Ready meals, soups and broths: cream is used for its taste and binding property.

Functional properties of cream and its advantages according to industrial applications

  • Taste sensations: taste and flavour enhancer
    • Maturation gives more flavour to the cream (transforming citrate into diacetyl thanks to Leuconostoc)
    • Size of suspended fat globules allows a fast fat melt.
  • Texture builder: rich and velvety viscosity due to cream homogenisation, that is perfect for soups and sauces.
  • Emulsifying property: cream proteins ease emulsification, ventilation, foaming and overrun.
  • Whitening property:
    • Whitening effect,
    • Coloring effect due to fat globules and caseins that diffuse light.
  • Browning of cooked aliments: Maillard reaction between proteins and lactose in the cream.

To learn more about the various kinds of cream offered by FIT, click here.