Can I Freeze Cream?
I was recently at Metro, a members-only store that sells things for professionals in large quantities with lots of food items. However unlike “members-only” stores elsewhere, you need to have some professional affiliation to join. Excitedly, I stocked up on lots of the things that I use a lot of, including cassonade sugar sold in bags close to 5-pounds, hazelnuts, tin containers for giving away treats from recipe-testing, and I picked up a few cases of wine, just because there happened to be a little extra room in the trunk of the car that needed filling.
(I like to think my wine consumption is somehow tied to my professional activities, too. But maybe it’s just because of them?)
In the middle of the store is a huge refrigerated section with all kinds of butter and seemingly every kind of dairy product available in France, most in professional-sizes, and I picked up a 6-pack of heavy cream. As in six liters of cream, with a higher-than-normal butterfat content of 35%.
(Most heavy cream in France is 30%, and is sometimes hard to whip, and often ultra-sterilized. Good quality crème fraîche, a cultured cream, is sold in tubs in supermarkets and fromageries. It’s easily available and seems to be used more often than liquid cream.)
At the rate I go through things around here, I was sure I was going to go through all that cream within the next five weeks. But as the expiration date rolled around, there were still five liters of cream in my refrigerator, ready to go south. So I froze it.
Yes, you can freeze cream just fine. Many bakers will sometimes find themselves with an extra cup or so, especially if you buy it by the liter or quart. So you can freeze it just by sticking the carton right in the freezer. The liquid inside may expand a bit, so if the containers are absolutely full, you may want to pour a little out first. But most containers I’ve run across have a bit of breathing room in them and I just pop them in there, just like that.
To use the cream, take it out and leave it in the refrigerator one or two days before you need it. Larger packages, like a liter or quart, will take longer to defrost than a cup of cream.
Before using it, give it a really good shake as the butterfat can settle to the bottom of the container and it may need to be re-emulsified. Then you’re good to go. You can use it for any baking application. And it can be whipped as well; it may appear a bit grainy at first, but sweetening it will smooth it out. But do make sure you’ve incorporated the butterfat completely, as watered down cream won’t whip.
Related Posts and Links
Crème fraîche, crème épaisse, crème liquide, crème fleurette, pasteurisée, UHT (C’est moi qui l’ai fait! – French creams, in French),
How to Make Crème Fraîche (Serious Eats)