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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?

Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

asked over 5 years ago

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15 answers 20724 views
cookbookchick
added over 5 years ago

If it tastes fine, I would use it. Cream will do that sometimes. Just give it a good shake.

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trampledbygeese
trampledbygeese

trampledbygeese is a trusted home cook.

added over 5 years ago

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.

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ChefOno
added over 5 years ago


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…"

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ChefOno
added over 5 years ago


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

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creamtea
creamtea

Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

added over 5 years ago

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?

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cookbookchick
added over 5 years ago

I would! You said it tastes fine. ChefOno and I agree -- give it a good shake to recombine it and use it.

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ChefOno
added over 5 years ago


"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.

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creamtea
creamtea

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added over 5 years ago

Thanks everyone! I'll probably put together the dough then freeze for future use.

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Droplet
added over 5 years ago

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 :)

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ChefOno
added over 5 years ago


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

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Droplet
added over 5 years ago

Indeed :)

AntoniaJames
AntoniaJames

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added over 5 years ago

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)

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creamtea
creamtea

Lisanne is a trusted home cook.

added over 5 years ago

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.

dchu
added almost 5 years ago

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.

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