The fat content of cream varies from country to country. Here’s a rough guide.
In the UK, single or pouring cream has around 18% fat, whipping cream has around 35%, and double cream around 48%, while clotted cream is the richest of all with upwards of 55%!
In the US (Canadian figures in brackets), half and half sits around 10.5-18% fat (10-12%), light cream has 18-30% (table cream 18%), whipping cream has 30-36% (35%) and heavy cream has more than 36% fat or more (40%).
In Australia, extra light cream has 12-12.5% fat, light cream has 18-20%, pure (single) cream 35-56% and double cream has 48-60%.
In New Zealand, our regular cream, for many years our only cream, has around 37% fat and is suitable for pouring or whipping, and our double cream is like the UK product with around 48% fat.
In the US and Canada much of the cream for sale is heat-treated to make it stable, although whole food companies offer non-UHT cream.
Many countries make thickened cream, a rich cream with around 35% fat, stabilised with gelatine or other thickeners, which is easier to whip than standard cream. I do not use thickened cream in my recipes because I live in New Zealand where we have ready access to beautifully fresh delicious-tasting cream.
A few more pointers: Thin pouring cream is not suitable for whipping as it is the high fat content in cream that enables it to whip and hold air; in warm weather, it is advisable to chill the bowl and beaters to be used for whipping cream, as chilled cream whips more easily and is more stable – if the cream gets warm, the fat simply melts; sweeten cream after whipping as its early introduction can make it harder to whip, and it will reduce the finished volume of whipped cream; the higher the fat content in cream, the less likely it will split when heated and mixed with acidic ingredients.
Photography by Julie Biuso