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When we whip cream by hand in a stainless steel bowl, with a metal whisk, small grey specks, ~0.5-1mm in size, appear in the cream. The specks are squishy and can easily be smeared out. See attached photos:

Bowl, whisk and cream with dots Cream on plate with black dots/specks/flakes

Googling does not turn up much except similar question at: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/508107

The specks appear in different stainless steel bowls ("Stainless steel" imprinted on all bowls - no aluminium or other metals involved as far as we can tell).

The same whisk used in a plastic bowl does not produce specks.

The cream is organic, 40% fat (Swedish "Arla EKO"). We cannot detect any strange taste.

It seems probable that the specks come from mechanical wear. But what is it? What could be the cause? Is there something we should know about Stainless steel bowls?

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Those look like air pockets - you're using an unusual whisk, perhaps it can't get enough "bite" on the stainless steel bowl to pop them, whereas the plastic bowl's texture offers enough resistance. I'd try it with a balloon whisk rather than a spiral whisk, and see if that helps. Here's a breakdown on whisks and their uses from Craftsy.

  • Agreed. They're just bubbles. – Preston May 10 '14 at 2:43
  • Interesting, we'll try more, look closer, and get back. – jeinarsson May 10 '14 at 10:22
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We just experienced the same phenomenon, and we were able to confirm that the specks were NOT bubbles - if we were careful enough, we could isolate the flecks. They came in different shapes - some were specks, but some were almost filaments.

We have a stainless steel bowl, but we suspect the whisk was aluminum.
Since aluminum is Mohs hardness 2-2.9 and stainless steel is 5.5-6.3, it's quite likely that the aluminum whisk was leaving residue on the side of the bowl that was ending up in the whipped cream.

We are avoiding aluminum utensils anyway, so now we will purchase a stainless steel whisk and see if the flecks still occur.


Update, October 26, 2015...

We've upgraded the whisk to stainless steel, and it still occurs when whipping cream in the stainless steel bowl.

I think the way to avoid flecks is to not use metal with metal, but instead use the whisk in a bamboo/plastic bowl.

  • I agree with your update. I tend not to use metal on metal because 2 similar objects can "beat" each other up and leave behind some residue, or flakes of fallen off material. – Chef Pharaoh Oct 27 '15 at 5:06
  • I think this is silly. You cook in metal. You put hot acids IN metal pans. You constantly eat metal off of your pan, and stainless steel is malleable enough to not "flake" off, if you were getting small portions of metal in your food its highly unlikely that it would be large enough to be harmful. Cooking in steel or iron leaves trace amounts of iron in food inevitably, and this is simply digested, as metals are highly reactive with acids(your stomach). – tsturzl Oct 27 '15 at 9:04
  • In the case of whipped cream, it's objectionable largely because it's distracting. – mskfisher Oct 27 '15 at 11:07
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    @tsturzl: I hope you do not put hot acids in aluminium pans, because that will dissolve an unhealthy amount of aluminium. Iron/steel will also dissolve, but iron is an essential nutrient and only becomes toxic at very high concentrations. – MSalters Mar 27 '16 at 21:43
  • @MSalters That's out of context. The OP stated that the bowl is stainless steel which in itself isn't very reactive. Also aluminum may be reactive but it forms an oxide coating when exposed to heat and oxygen. Still probably not a good idea to heat acidic foods in an aluminum pan, but I think that your statement is misplaced especially when the context of the question revolves around the bowl being stainless steel. – tsturzl Apr 8 '16 at 20:23
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I believe the whipped cream is collecting dust particles from the fridge, my first concern was that it was mold, but I know my cream was fresh. It sat in my fridge for an hour while we ate. It's odd that the sizes of these flecks are different. Maybe I'll try a silicone wisk next time :(

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