Anyone who loves baking as much as I do knows that heavy cream is essential in making some of the best desserts out there. We use it to make the best frostings, mousse, ice cream, cakes, cookies, pies, etc. And it is not only limited to sweet desserts; this thick cream is also used in a lot of savory dishes, soups, and sauces to add thickness and a richer flavor to them.
In most cases, though, you would always have leftover heavy cream after making your dessert or dish. And those half-finished cartons are likely to sit in your fridge until you realize that you need them again. It is at that point that this question pops into our head “Can I still use this?”
If you are still stumped with this question up to now, then this article will tell you everything you need to know about this magical, versatile cream. From what it is, how to store it properly, how to check if it is still good to use, and most importantly, how long does it last?
What is heavy cream?
With the various kinds of creams available in the market, it can get confusing to know what cream is used for what and if you have the right type to use for what you intend to make. You will see table cream, whipping cream, half and half, and of course, heavy cream side by side in market aisles. They are all actually made from dairy. Cream is the fat-heavy, thick layer that forms on top of non-homogenized whole milk. The difference boils down to one simple thing- the amount of fat content in each type.
Heavy cream, also called heavy whipping cream, contains more than 36% to 40% fat. This makes it thicker and allows you to make firm, stable peaks. From the term itself, this cream has the highest butterfat content available to us currently, not including the manufacturer’s cream, which is mainly used for commercial purposes.
Is it different from regular whipping cream? Yes, it is. Whipping cream contains only 30% to 36% fat. Since it has less fat content, it produces softer whipped peaks that melt quicker.
Is it the same as table cream? No, it is not. This type of cream contains only 15% to 18% fat, commonly used as creamer for coffee. It is also a cooking cream, so you can use this as a substitute when mixing it with soup, stews, or sauces to thicken them.
How long does heavy cream last?
When it comes to storage, heavy cream is not difficult to keep. One thing to remember is to always keep it refrigerated, regardless of whether it has been opened or not. It should stay good for a whole month or even longer if it has been heavily pasteurized. Do not keep it at room temperature, especially uncovered, for more than an hour, or it will spoil faster.
How long is heavy cream good for after the expiration date? Opened cartons or cans can still be used up to 5 days after the expiry date. However, it is always best to use it before that. Other factors may affect longevity, and one of those would be proper storage.
How to properly store
Always keep your heavy cream sealed and constantly refrigerated for longer shelf life. If the original packaging does not seal well anymore, transfer it to a sterile, airtight container. It is also advisable to keep it at the back of the fridge, instead of the door, so the temperature remains constant.
How do I know if heavy cream is bad?
You can always tell if your heavy cream is spoiled by the way it looks and smells. If you see any discoloration or molding and smell sour and funky, it is time to throw it away. Other things to look out for are the following:
- Separation – when the liquid and solid parts are noticeably separated.
- Bubbles- can mean heavy bacteria build-up has already started.
- Taste is off- if it has a sour taste, do not use it anymore.
What to do with leftover heavy cream?
If you are not planning on making desserts that require heavy cream, you can always whip it up and use it to make homemade iced coffee or frap! You can also mix it 50:50 with fresh whole milk and use it as a creamer for coffee or tea. It is also a good thickener for sauces and soups while imbuing them with its rich taste. Or you can freeze it for longer shelf life.
Can I freeze heavy cream?
You absolutely can. Heavy cream is freezer–friendly and can be frozen for up to three months. Take note, though, that freezing affects its texture. Once you thaw it, you will notice a separation and a bit of graininess. This is normal and just needs a good stir before using it again.
So next time that you use half a container of heavy cream, you know what to do! To think that you can save so much money and time by storing it properly so you can use it for other recipes. If you run out of ideas on how to use them, try some of my fave recipes below.
- Sweet Potato Cheesecake- you will need 1 cup of heavy cream to make the best sweet potato cheesecake filling ever! The silky texture melts in your mouth, and you are left with hints of sweet potato, cinnamon, and nutmeg afterward.
- Homemade Caramels- I used a pint of heavy whipped cream to make the sweet, sticky candies that are 100 times better than what you could buy at the store.