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When choosing whipped cream, you should typically consider personal preference regarding taste and how you plan on using it. Different types of cream can vary in flavor, especially based on the ingredients that are added to it. You should typically try different types of toppings and see which you prefer, and consider making your own as this allows you to directly control the flavors introduced into it. If you need to serve your whipped cream immediately, then you can use either fresh or canned; if it is going to sit a short time before being served, then you have the option of using fresh.
There are typically three major types of whipped cream: home-made, canned, and that sold in a tub. You can make your own home-made type quite easily, by whipping or beating heavy or light cream for several minutes with an electric mixer. This introduces air into the cream, which allows it to expand and become lighter and fluffier. Store bought varieties are usually either canned, which uses compressed air to create the texture, or those sold in a tub that use vegetable oil.
One of the most important considerations you should have when choosing whipped cream is the flavor. All else being equal, flavor is one of the major differences between these types. You can try different commercial types to see what you think of each one. If you are making your own whipped cream, then you can control any flavors that go into it, such as how much sugar you add and if you want to put in vanilla or another type of extract.
You should also consider at what time you plan on using and serving the topping. One of the major drawbacks with canned cream is that it can lose its structure and become liquid again within a relatively short period of time. If you plan on serving food with the cream, and having it sit in refrigeration for some time before serving, then this can be a problem. Fresh whipped cream holds its consistency for a longer period of time, so it should typically be used in this type of situation.
The major difference between canned toppings and those sold in a tub is the use of vegetable oil. Types found in a can typically do not use any such oil, while those in a tub often do. This can alter the flavor and texture, as well as the general “mouth feel,” of the topping. You should try both options to see which appeals to you, as some people prefer the canned varieties and others like topping sold in a tub.
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