How to Whip Cream without Blender

How to Whip Cream without Blender

Walk right past those containers of "whipped topping" in the freezer section of the supermarket—they are an unappetizing concoction of sugar, vegetable oils, thickeners, and emulsifiers, often containing no dairy at all—and skip those cans of prewhipped cream, which also contain stabilizers and emulsifiers. All you need is heavy cream (not "whipping cream"), usually sold in ½ pint (8-ounce) containers. One container will yield 1 cup of cream that will whip into 2 cups. For peaky, airy whipped cream, I have just two words for you: cold and fast.

1 Put a large metal mixing bowl and a whisk in the freezer for at least 1 hour before you make your whipped cream.

2 Pour 1 cup of very cold heavy cream into the bowl. To keep the bowl steady on the counter, dampen a kitchen towel and coil it around the base of the bowl.

3 Tip the bowl slightly toward you with one hand and use the whisk in the other hand to beat the cream with broad oval strokes. Don't beat in a small circle, or it will take longer. If you beat in a large circle, you're more likely to splash the cream everywhere.

4 Beat the cream until soft peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes, depending on room temperature. If you beat past the soft peak stage, the cream will stiffen perceptibly and may turn into butter.

5 Use the whipped cream immediately. Store any leftover cream tightly covered in the refrigerator and use within a few days, beating it with a whisk again to reincorporate some air, if needed.

The Lowdown on Dairy

Discover a day or two later that your milk product has gone off? It may have been because low-fat and nonfat dairy products don't stay fresh nearly as long as their creamier counterparts. Fat retains not only flavor, but also freshness. Understanding the various products offered in the dairy case can help you wisely choose—and use—your milk products.

Whole, skim, or in between?

Depends on what you need it for. Nutritionists usually recommend whole milk for children to drink until the age of two, then low-fat versions for all ages after that, but lower-fat milks typically have more sugar. In the end, you might be just as well to go with your personal preference.

What about the creamy stuff?

Half-and-half is a mixture of equal parts heavy cream and whole milk, with a butterfat content of about 15 percent. Light cream ranges from 15 to 30 percent butterfat. Heavy cream can be 36 to 40 percent butterfat. Half-andhalf and light cream will not whip, but they're ideal for coffee or cooking, allowing you to add some richness with less fat.

How much fat is in yogurt? And what makes yogurt "Greek"?

It depends on what you start with. All yogurt can be made with whole or skim milk, or any of the percentages in between. Greek-style yogurt can be nonfat if it’s made with skim milk, or it can taste as rich as heavy cream if made with whole milk. That's because the milk is treated with a yogurt culture to slightly sour and thicken it. Greek-style yogurt is strained to remove excess liquid, resulting in a much thicker product. Whatever you prefer, consider buying yogurt without added sweeteners, and then add fruit or sweeten it yourself. Flavored yogurts are far more likely to contain chemical flavors, colors, and stabilizers than plain yogurt, and typically cost more, too.

Is there butter in buttermilk?

Real buttermilk is the by-product of the butter-making process. When fresh cow's milk, with the cream still in it, is churned, the butterfat separates into a lump of butter, and the remaining liquid is buttermilk. Most of what you find in the supermarket, however, is cultured buttermilk—a low-fat milk that has been treated with a culture to give it the tangy flavor and acidity of real buttermilk.

How long will it keep?

Stored in the refrigerator at 38 degrees Fahrenheit, whole milk will easily stay fresh for a week or more, a bit longer than low-fat. Half-and-half or light cream will last longer than whole milk, and heavy cream can sit in your refrigerator for nearly a month with no loss in quality.

The date on the label is the date after which the store must not sell the product, in the interest of public health. But if your milk, cream, buttermilk, or yogurt is only a day or two past its date, has been kept at 38 degrees or colder, and, most important, has not been opened, it may still be fresh enough to drink. Opening a container allows oxygen to contact the product, making it degrade more quickly. An unopened carton of milk (particularly whole milk) may still be good a few days past the sell-by date, and yogurt almost always is. Just give it the sniff test: If it smells fine, it's probably fine to drink. But if there's any question, throw it out.

SWEETENED WHIPPED CREAM

Plain whipped cream is ideal for topping sweet and rich desserts. If you prefer sweetened whipped cream, add 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (or more or less to taste) and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract before beating.

SWEET OR SALTY?

Most cooks prefer unsalted butter, also called "sweet cream" butter, in part because it's believed to be fresher (salt acts as a preservative) but mostly because it won't add unwanted extra salt to a recipe. Salted butter, though best for buttering toast or baked potatoes, can be tricky to work with, especially in baking, because different butter-makers use different amounts of salt in their product. If you add salted butter to a recipe that calls for unsalted butter, always decrease the amount of table salt called for by ¼ teaspoon (per stick).

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