In Europe, double and single cream is an ingredient to create delicious desserts with beautiful, whipped toppings. However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find double and single cream in the United States.
This difficulty is largely due to the different milk and cream standards that the United States government holds.
In the United States, the closest equivalent to double cream (48% butterfat content) is heavy cream (36% butterfat content). The closest equivalent of single cream (20% butterfat content) is light cream (18% butterfat content).
Read on to learn more about the similarities and differences between European double and single creams and their US equivalents.
In the US, What Is the Equivalent of Double and Single Cream?
There are no direct equivalents of double and single cream in the United States. This difference is because the stringent pasteurization standards can not create a cream with very high-fat contents like in Europe.
Types of Cream Available in the United States
Here is the range of creams available in the United States according to the government’s regulatory standards.
Light cream has no less than 18% butterfat content but no more than 30%.
Heavy cream has no less than 36% butterfat content.
Dry cream contains between 40% and 75% butterfat content, but this product is extremely rare, and you cannot find it at most American stores.
Pasteurization in the United States
Regulatory standards in the United States require that all dairy products utilize pasteurized milk. Pasteurization is a process that heats milk to kill any harmful bacteria which may be present.
In addition, many milk products in the United States utilize ultra-high-temperature pasteurization, a process that extends the shelf life of milk.
Best Equivalents for Single and Double Cream in the US
While there are no direct equivalents to single and double cream in the United States, the best substitutions are listed below.
- Double cream equivalent: Heavy cream (also called heavy whipping cream) is the closest match at 36% butterfat content
- Single cream equivalent: Light cream is the closest match at 18% butterfat content
Here are some common questions about single and double cream in the United States.
What is the definition of double cream?
Double cream is a common product found in the United Kingdom and rest of Europe. Double cream contains a butterfat content of 48%, which makes it very dense and thick.
What is double cream used for?
Double cream is a dairy product with a higher fat content than regular milk, making it perfect for dessert recipes requiring whipped cream.
What is the definition of single cream?
Single cream is similar to double cream, just with lower fat content. Single cream has a butterfat content of 20% and is often used to pour over desserts or as a base for thick and creamy sauces like Alfredo sauce.
Why don’t you commonly find single or double cream in America?
The United States pasteurization regulations are the primary reason why double and single creams aren’t available in the United States.
In the United Kingdom, most dairy products are pasteurized, but the process often happens at the end of production.
In the United States, any dairy products (cheese, cream cheese, cream) must use pasteurized milk at the beginning of the process. You have to start with unpasteurized milk to get very high-fat contents, such as in double and single cream.
Because of these regulations, the highest fat content cream you’ll find on shelves is heavy cream, which contains 36% butterfat content compared to the 48% butterfat content in the double cream.
In Europe, outside of the United Kingdom, unpasteurized dairy products make up more of the market, such as in Italy and France.
What can you use instead of single or double cream in the US?
The closest equivalent to double cream in the United States is heavy cream, and for single cream, the best replacement is light cream.
Some other products, such as half-and-half or Greek yogurt, are often considered suitable, but they cannot come close in terms of fat content.
What role does fat content play in creams?
Fat content is the most important property of cream, as the cream is a concentration of milk fat. The heavier fat-filled layer rises to the top when milk is left to sit. This layer turns into what we know as cream.
The “butterfat” content is how we measure the fat content of the cream. Butterfat is the fatty portion that can separate by churning the milk.
If milk churns to create 100% butterfat content, the result is real butter, and the liquid churned out of the mixture is known as buttermilk.
The fat content in cream affects how thick and dense a recipe can be. For example, heavy whipping cream or double cream contains high-fat contents, so you can use them to create thick and dense whipped cream.
Is double cream the same as heavy cream?
Although heavy cream is the closest alternative to double cream in the United States, the two products are very different. Heavy cream contains 36% butterfat content, while double cream contains 48% butterfat content.
Because of the difference in fat content, double cream is far thicker than heavy cream. In addition, it is easier to accidentally overwork double cream because the thick cream can easily break.
Should your cream always be pasteurized?
The United States requires that all dairy products use pasteurized milk because unpasteurized milk is linked to health problems and the presence of harmful bacteria. In Europe, it is more common to find unpasteurized dairy products, including cream, though the CDC has found links between unpasteurized dairy products (such as milk and cream) and brucellosis.
Cream that is unpasteurized may be perfectly healthy, but it’s important to know the risks if you choose to consume unpasteurized dairy products.
For people trying to find an equivalent of double and single cream in the United States, you may be dismayed to know there are no direct equivalents of these products. The US guidelines for pasteurization provide different products and standards than those in Europe.
However, if you need to replace these in a recipe, heavy cream will work fine in place of double cream, and light cream will work for single cream.