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Today I was making a cake for which I needed whipped cream.

The local store did not have fresh cream so I bought UHT cream, I am not sure that's the correct term in English, you basically treat it with high temperatures so that it lasts longer. Said cream is specifically meant to be whipped, or at least so the packaging states.

I used a plastic bowl and 400ml of UHT cream, straight from the fridge. As usual, I used an electric mixer, something like:

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Unfortunately after 20+ minutes of mixing the cream was not starting to whip at all. I somehow managed to finish the cake thanks to a food processor that can somewhat whip cream, but the question stands. What did go wrong? Is there something about UHT cream or was I generally careless?

  • Please feel free to ask any clarification about what I precisely did, I will edit the question accordingly. – Vladimir Cravero Jul 17 '15 at 15:13
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    What's the fat content? You have to make sure that the cream has at least 30% fat to whip it. – Ching Chong Jul 17 '15 at 15:51
  • I am sorry, I forgot to mention that the cream packaging had "TO BE WHIPPED CREAM" written on it, so I did not even check that... I do not think that's the culript. – Vladimir Cravero Jul 17 '15 at 15:52
  • I recently had similar trouble with a package of UHT shelf-stable cream (which in the US I've only ever found at Trader Joe's). I attributed it to the fact that my cream was a bit [read: almost a year] past its expiration date. It still tasted fine, but it refused to whip. In my case, another contributing factor might have been temperature: I only remembered to put the box in the fridge about 30 minutes before trying to whip it. Neither of these seem to apply to you. I've successfully whipped similar boxes of cream before, so it's not in inherent problem with UHT cream. – Marti Jul 17 '15 at 16:08
  • Here's the Trader Joe's box of whipping cream: traderjoes.com/images/fearless-flyer/uploads/article-826/… Is this similar to what you got? – Marti Jul 17 '15 at 16:15
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UHT and ultra-pasteurized creams can be whipped, but it can be more difficult than pasteurized cream. From The Cultured Cook :

The key to lush whipped cream is choosing lush cream to begin with. Ideally, you want cream from grass-fed cows — it has a richer, fuller taste and a lighter, fluffier texture — and cream that has not been UHT pasteurized. UHT means “ultra-high temperature,” which in turn means that the cream will be difficult to whip since it’s been thoroughly cooked and in the process has lost a great deal of its natural thickness and ability to hold that thickness when whipped. (Whipping simply incorporates air into the cream. The fat in the cream stiffens around the air pockets and holds itself up to create the fluff effect. Cold fat is stiffer than room-temp fat, which is why using chilled equipment and chilled cream is so important.) Take a look at the ingredient list on UHT whipping cream — you’ll see that it’s been thickened with carrageenan, gums, and other stabilizers to recreate the thick texture the cream has lost through having been overheated. Not exactly an ideal scenario.

Some pointers mentioned in comments above that may make a difference in how much success you have when whipping any cream, but especially UHT cream:

  • You need a fat content of at least 30%.
  • The cream should be cold. Some people also refrigerate their bowl and utensils also.
  • You can purchase stabilizers to add to UHT cream to help ensure proper results. Cream of tartar is one option.

Bonus #1 - Issues can occur with other heat treated products. E.g., pasteurized egg whites are more difficult to whip into peaks. While I have read that it can be done, I have never succeeded. I have also been told that cream of tartar (a stabilizer) can make it work.

Bonus #2 - The difference between UHT and ultra-pasteurization is not the process, but the container. They both use ultra high temperature pasteurization.

  • With UHT milk products, the sterile products are put into sterilized (aseptic) containers and hermetically sealed using a heat process. Now they are shelf stable and have a shelf life of 6 to 9 months (until opened).

    • Ultra-pasteurized milk products go through the same process but are put into regular milk containers (like pasteurized milk products) and must be kept refrigerated. It has an extended shelf life and should keep 2 to 4 weeks longer than pasteurized milk products (until opened).
  • I am starting to suspect temperature was the issue. In the store the cream was not refrigerated, being UHT, and it stayed in the fridge for some four hours. – Vladimir Cravero Jul 18 '15 at 7:12
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I have not tried this yet but I just watched a video on you tube where the man used about 10 grams of unflavored gelatin in the mix. Lo and behold it worked using uht milk. I have been researching this to figure out a way to make cake frosting that is light. Here is the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C63dz2JlA9g.

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