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When I heat 35% cooking cream on the stove, a layer of oil separates. I tried heating in the microwave and still observed the same. Is that normal in the process of heating cream? Should I use a lower heat level?


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Why are you heating it? What are you trying to achieve? – SAJ14SAJ Mar 23 '14 at 23:16
@SAJ14SAJ To make a white pasta sauce. thanks. – triomphe Mar 24 '14 at 16:57
Are you sure it's 35% cream? High fat cream really shouldn't shouldn't curdle. I make cream reductions all the time where I boil the sauce vigorously and it's never split. – Stefano Mar 27 '14 at 12:30
I don't think this is curdling. It doesn't curdle like when one puts off milk in the microwave and the white substance comes. It just that I see oil along the edge of the pan. Thanks. – triomphe Mar 27 '14 at 12:34

It seems that you got pure cream which has stood around for a few days. Cream is not a terribly stable emulsion, and the butterfat tends to rise to the top. When you heat it, it separates.

Try to buy a different brand which uses stabilizers, or add your own stabilizers (some starch might work if you don't have anything fancier), or use fresher cream. All will give you a smooth sauce.

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Generally if the cream separates, that means you've heated it too much -- either too hot, or too long.

Also, if you're making a cream-based pasta sauce, the standard method is to add the cream last to the other cooked ingredients in the sauce. That way you're less likely to overcook the cream. Most cream-based pasta sauces start with a base that has solids and oil, such as a white roux or a pesto, which further helps the cream hold together.

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