My mother is confounded by whipping-cream. Some 20 years ago she started making cream-puffs which quickly became her pastry calling card. They always came out great and were always a hit. Some 15 years later, she cannot seem to make whipped-cream anymore.
She still uses the same bowl, same mixer, same whipping-cream (Nutriwhip whipping-cream) and does everything the same way as she used to, but no matter what, the cream stays soft and will not stiffen or form peaks. (The kitchen is not too hot.)
Some explanations that we have considered include:
She tried using different bowl, a chilled bowl, a different mixer, (even made me try by hand once!) She has tried a different brands of cream (35% Beatrice and Lactancia whipping-creams), but gets the same results. One time, I tried adding the powdered sugar after whipping the cream, and it was much better than what she normally gets now, but still not as stiff as compared to the past. Using a whisk on the mixer in place of the normal beaters (which was what she always used before, as my and my sister’s tongues can attest to), seems to help, but even that is only temporary.
She has even tried putting the whipped cream in the freezer, and while it does harden, once it has thawed enough to pipe, it gets runny very quickly (in the past, she would be able to pipe the cream onto baked goods, leave them in the fridge for a day, then drive them to somewhere else without the cream’s edges softening).
She is baffled because she had made whipped-cream for various baked-goods countless times, but until a few years ago, she never had any problems, then suddenly, it never works anymore. I found a few related questions here, but they don’t quite apply (they talk about different bowls, different temperatures, etc., but like I said, it used to work).
What could be the problem? How can she get whipped-cream to stay hard like it used to?
The brands that used to work may have changed their formulation in response to carageenan shortages. If they use less emulsifier, a lower quality product, or different emulsifiers such as guar gum, locust bean, or xanthan gum, the stability of the whipped cream may suffer. If the cream you can get isn't stable enough, you can add unflavored gelatin to stabilize it. Method is in 'Joy of Cooking', or here.
May2013: Looks like carrageenan is still on the USDA organic list Shortage has eased, but whipping problems could still be due to variations in quality of supply.
I'll go for the first reason. Quality of cream is crucial in order to make good whipping-cream. Try different brands, until you find the one that satisfies you. This too happened to me many times when I used bad-quality whipping cream. If the cream persists to whip incorrectly, you could try adding a small amount of corn or potato starch to the cream, although it isn't necessary. Also be sure to whip the cream right after taking it out of the fridge (it should be cold but not freezing) and that the bowl is also cold. I wouldn't worry about whipping for too long. Just continue whipping until you'll get the expected result.
Cream as per Wikipedia: "Cream is a dairy product that is composed of the higher-butterfat layer skimmed from the top of milk before homogenization.". It should not contain any other additive or sugar etc.
To test cream: Place 100 ml of cream from a fridge, into a cocktail shaker or similar shaped container with tight fitting lid. Shake back and forth (cocktail style) for 2 to 5 minutes (depends on your strength), you should have smooth whipped cream. If you shake for another minute or two it will separate into butter and whey
If your cream source does not whip with this process, it may not actually be cream
I live in NZ and have never had any problem with whipping cream. Our cream here doesn't contain any additives to help it harden like carrageenan.
However, when I used the normal whipping cream in Canada, I had the same problem beating it to stiff peaks. It just didn't do it and I was unsure as to why was the case. Then when I checked the box, it had something else added to it (don't remember what). I was very annoyed as the texture wasn't right and not what I had expected it to be. The texture of the cream was much nicer and easier to work with when nothing else was added to it. I am surprised as to why they need to add stuff to even plain cream to help get better results.
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