Heavy cream is a dairy product that is sometimes called whipping cream as it is called for in many recipes and usually requires whipping or mixing with a high-speed mixer. It is a grade of cream that has a butterfat content of between 36 and 40 percent. Though in the UK higher butterfat weight cream is available, heavy cream with a butterfat content of 40 percent is the highest butterfat weight cream available in the United States. In other areas, this product is also called double cream.
In cooking, heavy cream is often called for as an ingredient after it has been whipped. The cream doubles in volume after it is whipped and whips best when it is cold to start with and stays cold while whipping. If the cream is not cold enough it won’t whip well and may need to be re-chilled. After it has been whipped to the proper volume, the whipped cream is usually folded into other ingredients.
Some recipes do call for heavy cream without whipping. In these recipes, it can be substituted by the cup with a ratio of ¾ cup (6 ounces) milk and 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) butter, not margarine. Like other dairy products, it is perishable and requires proper storage and safe handling. Unless it has been pasteurized to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 degrees Celsius), it should be kept in the colder part of the refrigerator and not the door. Recipes prepared with heavy cream should be properly stored once cooked.
Heavy cream is available in the dairy case at most grocery retailers and is most often sold in cartons. Buying cream with a short shelf life as indicated by the expiration date printed on the carton indicates it has not been ultra-pasteurized and will typically be fresher and richer in taste.