Q. I often buy heavy cream when baking, but I don’t use it for anything else. As a result, I always end up with leftover heavy cream that ends up getting thrown out or poured down the drain. I’d like to be able to keep the leftover cream for when I need it again. Can you freeze heavy cream?
A. Of course you can! The best part is, unlike some dairy products, heavy cream can easily be brought back to its original texture. Freezing heavy cream is simple, and once you’ve tried freezing it, you’ll never throw the leftovers away again.
Since heavy cream has a high fat content, the fat will have a tendency to separate during the freezing process. To minimize how much separation occurs, give it a good stir or shake before freezing. Heavy cream can be frozen in the original container it came in, but since cream has a tendency to take on the flavors of other foods, you may want to consider another method. A good way to minimize the risk of changing the flavor of your cream is to freeze it in a freezer bag or to place the original container in a freezer bag for a double layer of protection.
If you only use cream in small amounts in recipes, consider freezing it in small quantities. Pour the cream in ½ or 1 cup quantities in silicone muffin tins, then pop them out and place the individually frozen blocks of cream in a large freezer bag, and then just remove one or two at a time for use in a recipe. Freezing cream in smaller quantities also cuts down on the time it takes to thaw the cream for use.
To thaw frozen heavy cream, remove the package from the freezer and place in the fridge for several hours or overnight, depending on the quantity of cream to defrost. Never thaw cream on the counter, as the uneven temperatures can lead to bacteria growth. Thawed cream will have a watery texture, as the fat will have separated. To return cream to its original texture, shake or stir the cream to re-emulsify the mixture.
It’s important to mix it thoroughly, or the heavy cream won’t whip. The stirred cream may still appear a bit grainy, but when sugar is added to make it whipped cream, the texture will improve and the cream will smooth out. Use the heavy cream in recipes or whip it as whipped cream, and enjoy the same flavor and texture as fresh heavy cream.