heavy cream separated

I've had a carton of heavy cream in the refrigerator for about a week. The sellby date is today. When I went to open it, a thick layer of fat had separated out. It tastes sweet. It is regular homogenized cream. Can I use it?



susan August 20, 2019
It's clotted cream. Skim it off, give a stir to smooth it out and serve with homemade scones. Sweet, creamy, yummy. Use the separated milk below just as you would regular milk. Enjoy!
Shelley D. May 5, 2019
That's a SELL BY DATE! It's good for at LEAST a week after that date. Come on people, quit throwing perfectly good food away because of a date on the bottle.
dchu February 1, 2014
I got this great tip from my mother for testing (liquid) dairy products: Heat up a small amount. If it doesn't curdle, you're good.

It's probably not worth trying to recombine unless you warm it up a bit first or you have a bionic arm. That layer on top is practically butter, after all. Just use it in a cooked recipe
like the cream scones above.
AntoniaJames March 7, 2013
I've used that TJ's cream to make scones well beyond a week after the sell-by date. My fridge is and stays cold; as long as the cream tastes good, I use it. Have never had a problem. ;o)
creamtea March 8, 2013
Thanks AJ I made two discs and cut and froze them; took out a couple to bake on Monday. We survived! Will bake up more from the freezer this Sunday.
ChefOno March 7, 2013

You never know what you're going to learn on any given day.

Droplet March 7, 2013
Indeed :)
Droplet March 7, 2013
Some old time glass cream bottle have a shape that features a buldgy neck, sometimes you see the words "it whips" written on them...that buldge is where cream often collected as it separated, I used to think it was a decorative detail of old time industrial design :)
creamtea March 3, 2013
Thanks everyone! I'll probably put together the dough then freeze for future use.
ChefOno March 3, 2013

"dairy" and re-reading your original post I see you've already confirmed it hasn’t soured. If it helps, milk products should be good for at least a week past their sell-by date if properly refrigerated.

Voted the Best Reply!

ChefOno March 3, 2013

Okay, more explanation (I never know how much detail to go into): Homogenization is not homogeneous. There are different techniques used for different products. Light creams may get three passes through the equipment which helps add body, heavier products may get just enough to hold together temporarily. Since the process has a detrimental effect, it's better if they don't take it too far.

Tip: Smell *and* taste it. Sometimes you can detect when dary is starting to go better by tasting (at least I can). If it's sweet, you’re GTG.

cookbookchick March 3, 2013
I would! You said it tastes fine. ChefOno and I agree -- give it a good shake to recombine it and use it.
creamtea March 3, 2013
It was homogenized unbeaten cream from the carton (Trader Joe's); I was going to make scones. The components (dry ingredients, combined; unbeaten cream mixed w/yogurt, diced butter) are refrigerated or frozen pending decision as to what to do...I may make the dough & freeze, but should I use the cream?
ChefOno March 3, 2013

Sorry, forgot the explanation: Lack of homogination. Homogenization negatively affects whipping producing a weak(er) foam.

ChefOno March 3, 2013

Yeah, cream does that sometimes. Seems the heavier it is, the more likely that is to happen. How does that Cars song go? -- "Shake it up…"

trampledbygeese March 3, 2013
I wouldn't use it as cream, or at all.

It could just be the milk separating, but the homogenization process would have prevented it if done properly.

It sounds like it wasn't stored at the right temperature at some point on it's journey (possibly an inconsistent fridge in the shop, or more likely something wrong with the pasteurization process). Sounds like it started fermenting and separated the curds from the way. Although I've never had this happen with homogenized milk before, at least not without an added element to get the process started.

In the past, pre refrigeration, and keep in mind this was done with unprocessed milk: When the milk curdled and separated like that, they would take this old milk and make a cottage cheese from it by putting it in a cheese cloth, hanging it to drain off the way for a few hours, then mixing salt and herbs in with the curds. However, given that it's not farm fresh milk and it's been pasteurized (assuming you are in a Western Country, all supermarket milk must be pasteurized) it's difficult to know what bacteria caused the milk to separate like that. So, I can't recommend trying to make cheese from this.

Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions has some good commentary and recipes for making that kind of cheese and why pasteurized and homogenized milk are not a good idea to work with.

Personally, I would go with what they taught in school, when in doubt, toss it out.
Jeanette U. November 10, 2019
My mother used to tell me that the cream floated to the top and would be skimmed to use for whip cream. I believe they get the phrase "skimmed" milk from this! Anyhow, the only heavy cream products that separate are the local ones that have no carrageenan mixed. The carrageenan is a seaweed derivative that serves as a thickener / stabilizer. Hence the reason other brands don't separate.
cookbookchick March 3, 2013
If it tastes fine, I would use it. Cream will do that sometimes. Just give it a good shake.
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