Cream is a yellowish butterfat component of milk that forms on the top of un homogenized milk when it is allowed to sit for a while. This is due to the lesser density of the fat in the milk.
It can also be obtained by centrifugal separation of milk from the cream in a cream or milk separator, to obtain cream and skimmed milk. A milk separator is the most effective way of obtaining cream from milk at an industrial level.
Cream in a milk separator collects in the middle and flows out a different channel for collection. Traditionally, before the invention of milk separators, milk was left to sit for some time for cream to come to the top. From this, the cream was then skimmed.
There are various types of creams and these are distinguished by their fat content and or whether they have been whipped or heat treated. There is also cream that is known as sweetened cream which is obtained from un homogenized milk as opposed to whey which is a low fat content cream obtained as a byproduct of cheese manufacture. Whey is usually low in fat content, and has a cheesy tangy and salty taste and can also be used in a variety of food products.
The yellowish coloration is often seen in cream obtained from cattle that graze on natural pasture, that often contain natural carotenoid pigments derived from plants. Cream derived from animals fed indoors using pellets and grains is white.
Cream can therefore be sold in several grades according to butter fat content. It can also be dried to powder to ensure it lasts longer and can therefore be used at a later date or shipped.
Cream may be processed to make a variety of products. Examples of products are;
Butter. This is made by churning milk manually or in a machine the butterfat and buttermilk.
Sour cream. This is cream that has been subjected to lactic acid producing bacteria that thicken and make the cream sour.
Clotted cream. Clotted cream is made through a process that starts by slowly heating milk to produce a heavy fat content.
Whipped cream. Here air is mixed with cream that contains 30% fat in order to the liquid cream into a soft solid.
Cream is also an ingredient for many delicacies and is therefore used in various recipies. It is used to make ice creams, as a base for custards, soups, stews, puddings and so forth. Creams can also be used for cooking in place of cooking fat.