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Fresh cream, canned and boxed: understand the differences and when to use each

A cup of milk, three eggs, a can of cream… “Oops, I don’t have cream in a can, but I do have it in a box. Can I use it?”

Who has never been through a situation like this, right? Although canned and boxed cream are very similar (they don’t even need to be kept in the fridge!), know that these products are different.

And, of course, fresh cream also has its own characteristics and, depending on the purpose, it cannot be replaced by another version.

Well, maybe that’s exactly why that recipe of yours went wrong: an improper change in the type of cream, because you thought they were all the same. To avoid mushy puddings and curdled sauces, find out now what each version of this ingredient is for.

Fresh milk cream

Sold in jars or bottles, fresh cream is also called “cream” in some regions of Brazil, especially in the southern states.

Unlike the cream sold in cans or boxes, this product needs to be stored at low temperatures, so it usually stays in the market’s refrigerators, near the pots of curd and other cream cheeses.

Fresh cream has about 35% fat – the highest content of the different types of cream. As an advantage, it can be heated to a boil, as it will not curdle.

This is also the basis for making real whipped cream, that is, cream beaten with sugar until it acquires a thicker consistency. If you choose to make whipped cream at home, you have to be careful not to overcook it and let the cream thicken until it turns into butter.

Canned milk cream

This version of sour cream has less fat than fresh cream, with the content being between 20% and 25%.

As canned cream comes with the whey separate, it’s ideal for recipes that call for the cream without the whey, as you’ll be able to dispose of it without too much trouble. On the other hand, if the recipe doesn’t say anything about separating the cream from the whey, you should mix the contents of the can with a spoon before using it.

Milk cream in a box

The cream in a box has the lowest fat content among the versions, ranging from 17% to 20% depending on the brand.

When it’s in the box, the cream is already mixed with the whey and it’s impossible to separate them. That way, if the recipe calls for the cream without the serum, you should not use this product.

In addition to being excellent for preparing puddings, syrups, ganaches and desserts, the box version is ideal for recipes that need to be boiled, as it does not curdle with heat. In fact, what makes this cream curd is the acidity of ingredients like wine or tomato sauce.

Easy, isn’t it? From now on, you can always use the most appropriate version for your recipes.

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