The inventor of butter must have been an interesting person.
Who else would shake a bunch of cream until the arms would
shake no more, just to see what would happen? And who would
keep going after the cream had whipped into the delight we
put on top of pies and sundaes for dessert?
Whipping cream is cream that contains at least 30% milk fat.
Cream that has less than 30% fat will not whip.
Heavy cream can contain up to 40% milk fat, and is sometimes
used for whipping.
The structure of whipped cream is quite complex.
A coating of milk protein. surrounds small globules
of milk fat, containing solid and liquid fats.
These globules stack into chains and
nets around air bubbles. The air bubbles are also formed from the
milk proteins, which form a thin membrane around the air pockets.
The three dimensional network of joined fat globules and protein
films stabilizes the foam, keeping the whipped cream stiff.
Whipped cream additives
Additives are sometimes added to whipping cream to make it
easier to incorporate more air, or to make it more stable,
so the foam lasts longer. Chief among the stabilizers are
and emulsifiers such as
(a monoglyceride) and related compounds called diglycerides.
Carageenan is a gelling agent that forms a complex with the
milk proteins, adding bulk and strength. A small amount will
make a large difference in the ability to hold air in the foam.
Mono and diglycerides replace some of the proteins in the coating
around the fat globules. This lets the globules partially fuse
together, to form the chains and networks that make up the three
dimensional structure of the foam. There are natually occuring
mono and diglycerides in milk and cream, but adding more makes
the whipped cream last longer and helps achieve higher volume.
Sweeteners such as sugar
and corn syrup are added for taste,
but they also participate in the structure of the foam, and in
the weight of the final product.
Natural and artificial flavors are also added, usually in the
form of vanilla
extract or synthetic
Propellant in canned whipping cream
In canned whipping cream, the gas
nitrous oxide is used
as a propellant and whipping agent. Nitrous oxide under pressure
dissolves in the fats in the cream, and comes out of solution
(like fizzing carbon dioxide in a soda) when the pressure is
released. The bubbles of nitrous oxide whip the cream into a