Generalities and types
The cream of milk or fresh cream is a product that belongs to the II fundamental group of foods (that of Milk and Derivatives).
It represents a by-product of cow's milk, although it could be obtained from any type of animal milk.
- 10-12%: from cafeteria
- 30-35%: common or pastry
- 48%: double cream
In some countries of the world milk cream is also marketed in different lipid percentages.
Obtained by skimming (natural surfacing or more commonly accelerated by centrifuges or "separators") of raw milk, and subjected exclusively to pasteurization, the "traditional Italian" milk cream should not be confused with cooking cream (sterilized with UHT method ).
In truth, there are two types of fresh milk cream:
- Made from raw milk.
- Made from serum.
The first, the best known and distributed in our country, has a sweet, round taste and typically resembles whole milk. The second one, instead of being thinner, has clear salty, spicy and typically "cheese" notes.
Today, freeze-dried milk cream is also commercially available, but it is more used in commercial catering.
The fresh (pasteurized) milk cream is not long conservable and must be kept in the refrigerator.
It has nutritional characteristics that are hardly compatible with clinical nutritional regimens, due to the high caloric intake provided by saturated fats.
From a gastronomic point of view, milk cream is the only cream of animal origin that can be whipped (whippeability). To better understand the mechanism of whipping cream we recommend reading the article: Fresh Cream: Why Monta?
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Milk cream is a food characterized by a very high caloric intake, which is why it does not lend itself to nutritional treatment for overweight and obesity.
Energy is supplied mainly by lipids, followed by carbohydrates and finally by proteins.
The portion of carbohydrates contained in the milk cream is made up of lactose; this characteristic places it in the group of dairy products. For this reason, traditional milk cream does not lend itself to the diet for lactose intolerance even if recently lactose-free variants have been marketed (in which lactose is already hydrolyzed or pre-digested in glucose and galactose).
WARNING! Delattosata cream is suitable for dieting against lactose intolerance but not for galactosemia.
Fiber and alcohol are absent.
The lipids of milk cream are mainly saturated, followed by monounsaturated and finally by polyunsaturated fats. Furthermore, cholesterol intake is more than relevant.
These characteristics make the milk cream a food totally unsuitable for the hypercholesterolemic nutrition.
Although scarce, the peptides in milk cream are of high biological value and contain significant amounts of essential amino acids. The most abundant ones are glutamic acid, proline and leucine.
From a mineral point of view, milk cream shows a fair amount of calcium and phosphorus. As far as vitamins are concerned, a reasonable intake of retinol equivalents (vitamin A) is shown.
Milk cream is a gluten-free food but, in addition to lactose and galactosemia intolerance, it must be excluded in case of allergy to cow's milk proteins (casein and / or whey).
It is admitted by the vegetarian lacto-ovo nutritional philosophy but not by the vegan one.
For the Jewish religion, the cream of milk is considered a kosher food, as it is made from cow's milk (ruminant animal with cloven hoof). Obviously, being derived from milk, it cannot be eaten together with meat and the consumption of the two foods must be separated for at least 6 hours.
Milk cream is also tolerated by the Muslim religion (halal food) and is the only food of animal origin tolerated in Hinduism.
Outline of Gastronomy
Milk cream, normal or whipped, is used as an ingredient in many recipes, including cold desserts, pastry bases, creams, puddings, cakes, ice creams, sauces, soups, sauces for pasta dishes, stews, etc.
Sweetened whipped cream is called chantilly cream and served as decoration / seasoning in: ice cream cups, smoothies, hot chocolate and alcoholic beverages (eggnog, zabov / vov, Irish cream, bombardino etc.).
In the United States and Canada it is common to add cream (from 10-12% or 20% coffee) to American coffee; some use it instead of milk in tea.
The function of milk cream in savory recipes is similar and adjuvant to that of raw egg yolk (although for different mechanisms). The higher the lipid fraction, the greater the emulsifying capacity. Ultimately, adding cream to milk prevents the so-called splitting or "separation" effect of the aqueous component from fats (inevitable if you replace the cream with milk).
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Additives and further processing
Milk cream can contain added thickeners and stabilizers.
Among the thickeners we mention: sodium alginate, carrageenan, gelatin, sodium bicarbonate, tetrasodium pyrophosphate and alginic acid.
Furthermore, the milk cream can be further stabilized with a partial demineralization and the addition of sodium caseinate. This prevents the separation into oily globules ("feathering" effect) that typically occurs after the addition to hot drinks. The process is quite expensive and therefore little used.