We’ve all run into that problem. You know the one, you end up buying too much of something and pop it in the freezer. When you thaw it out it’s just not the same, this goes for many foods. But one of the worst comforts of this is heavy cream. Heavy cream can work in many instances when it’s frozen and thawed, but there is a distinct difference. Sometimes the fat separates and almost seems clumped together. When this happens it can lose its ability to whip properly. Why does this happen? Is there a way to fix it?
“Can you fix frozen heavy cream?”
Heavy cream is homogenized in the same way that milk is. This means the fat is evenly distributed with the water in the cream. When heavy cream is frozen water molecules within the cream crystallizes and expands. This breaks the emulsion from the homogenization process.
With some heavy cream the fat content can be so high that it is not affected as much. In most of the brands that we find at the grocery store they will separate when frozen and thawed. The water in the fat can separate in a couple ways. The fat will look fluid and float on top of the water or the cream will look gritty. Sometimes if there’s just a slight separation you can mix the fat back with the water and it will be fine. Although whipping it may not work as well, it will still work.
If the cream looks gritty this means the butter fat has started clumping together. This is where the real problems arise. It is very difficult to re-emulsify solid fat. In a question form a customer they inquired about heating the cream until the fats melt. Then once the fat melts, add a gum to help the emulsification process. The issue with this is heating the cream will sometimes prevent its ability to whip. If you are just looking to return the cream to its liquid form for sauce making then it may work. While there is no specific recipe we would suggest ingredients such as 210S or polysorbate 80. These will keep the cream emulsified. Gently heat the cream until the fat melts. You will see the fat float to the top. Add the emulsifier and blend until uniform.
With all this being said, heating cream is not the best idea. We understand that sometimes it must be done so we are not wasteful. We have all done it at some point. In the event that you froze a quart of cream it most likely won’t be able to be whipped. But with a little ingenuity and some magical ingredients you may be able to salvage it for sauces. Until next time, keep cooking!
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