Heavy Cream Heavy
This is the time of year people do a lot of cooking. Sure, Thanksgiving is behind us. But there are Christmas and New Year’s Eve ahead of us. I remember making a lobster bisque for one special New Year’s celebration.
The vast majority of foods that are cooked during this season are rich and comforting. There is a lot of butter. There is a lot of cream. And that brings me to my rant of the day.
It may never have occurred to you to look at the ingredients in your cream. Now you are probably saying, “Ingredients in cream? It’s cream. Have you gone mad?” That is exactly what I thought, too. But now it is exceedingly difficult to find just cream.
Maybe you have a carton of the stuff in your refrigerator right now. I urge you to play along at home. Go grab it and see what it says.
Got it? If I was right likely your cream will include three unwelcome guests: carrageenan, mono- and diglycerides, and polysorbate 80. If yours has none of these interlopers, please let me know the brand and where you got it – because yours is the cream that I am looking for. But don’t tell me Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or Wegmans because that will just me angry.
Now you might be asking yourself, what are these things doing in my cream? Fair question. Let me break it down by ingredient.
Carrageenan is a food gum. If you read the labels of processed foods, you will see it everywhere. Gums act as thickening agents and stabilizers. It’s safe, but it is in your cream to give it the feeling of being fattier than it actually is. Which is really theft. Because when you are paying a premium for cream, you are paying for expensive milkfat, and not gums derived from seaweed.
Mono- and diglycerides improve the shelf life of the products they are put into. An interesting fact that I learned from a former colleague’s blog is that this additive can be derived from an animal source and vegetarians are advised to steer clear. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news to those already on restricted diets.
Polysorbate 80 is an emulsifier, and as far as I can tell is used to make sure that the cream doesn’t separate.
Honestly, it’s the gums I care about the most, because to me that is tantamount to a bait and switch. The consumer is paying for a thick and luscious liquid filled with expensive and delicious milkfat, but instead it’s being supplemented with cheap and less delicious seaweed molecules.
Although if I were a vegetarian, I’d be pretty peeved about the mono- and diglycerides.
Still, there is another, more insidious thing lurking in your heavy cream. And that is rBGH, recombinant bovine growth hormone, which doesn’t make it onto the ingredient list at all. Technically it’s not in the cream per se, but we’ll talk more about that later.
Unless, of course, your cream is organic. Organic milk comes from cows that are not injected with rBGH. For that matter, organic milk comes from cows that do not receive antibiotics. But even organic cream can, and most likely will, contain the food additives listed above.
Grrr. It makes me so angry!
Let this be a reminder to you. Check your ingredients. Always.
You may be surprised at what you find.