What Is Clotted Cream?

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Clotted cream is a popular dairy food from England with a thick texture and a delicious taste.

With a high fat content, clotted cream is incredibly rich, and it comes somewhere in between heavy cream and pure butterfat.

Traditionally served alongside English tea and scones, this dairy product has a history going back hundreds of years.

But what exactly is clotted cream?

In this article, we examine its nutrition profile, how its made, and how to use it.

What Is Clotted Cream?

Clotted Cream and Mixed Berries In Separate Small Bowls.

Clotted cream is a type of English cream that contains a much higher butterfat concentration than typical heavy cream.

Unlike regular cream, it does not have a liquid consistency, and it is thick and spreadable in a similar way to cream cheese.

The cream is thought to originate from either Cornwall or Devon in the United Kingdom, and it is also known as either ‘Cornish cream’ or ‘Devonshire cream.’

Since 1998, Cornish clotted cream has held an EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) within the European Union.

This PDO means that no product can be called ‘Cornish clotted cream’ unless it meets the following criteria (1);

  • A minimum butterfat content of 55%.
  • Produced within the geographical region of Cornwall.
  • The cream should be heated to a temperature of 70 to 80°C (158-176°F) until it forms a thick crust on top.

While the butterfat content has to be a minimum of 55%, clotted cream typically exceeds this, and it will vary from brand to brand.

Origin

Some speculation suggests that clotted cream was first made by monks in the 11th century (2).

However, the first recorded mention of the cream comes from the desserts section of a traditional recipe book published in 1658 called ‘The Compleat Cook’ – not a spelling mistake! (3).

Taste and Appearance

Producers use pasture-raised fresh milk to make clotted cream, and the grass in these regions is notoriously high in beta-carotene (1).

For this reason, clotted cream has a trademark creamy yellow color, as you may have noticed in the above image.

The taste is something like a regular cream, although it has a richer flavor.

Due to the texture, you cannot pour clotted cream like you can with other creams and can either eat it spread on food (or with a spoon).

In short; it is very rich, thick, and delicious.

Key Point: Clotted cream is a tasty traditional English cream that is very high in fat.

Clotted Cream Nutrition Facts

Based on the USDA’s record for ‘English Luxury Clotted Cream,’ here are the full nutritional values for clotted cream.

In the table below you can find the calorie and macronutrient content per ounce (28-gram) serving and per 100 grams (4);

Nutrition Profile For Clotted Cream
Calories/NutrientAmount Per 28g ServingAmount Per 100g
Calories140 kcal500 kcal
Carbohydrate1.0 g3.57 g
 – Fiber0.0 g0.0 g
 – Sugars1.0 g3.57 g
Fat15.0 g53.57 g
Protein0.0 g0.0 g

As shown, the cream is very high in fat, it offers minimal amounts of carbohydrate, and contains no protein.

Benefits of Clotted Cream

Strawberry Pieces and Clotted Cream On a Spoon.

As an (almost) isolated source of fat, clotted cream is not particularly rich in nutrients.

However, it does contain a fair amount of vitamin A.

1) Very High In Vitamin A

Clotted cream provides a good amount of retinol, which is the type of vitamin A found in animal foods.

Retinol is often called ‘pre-formed vitamin A,’ and it is several times more bioavailable than vitamin A carotenoids found in plant foods (5).

Per ounce serving, clotted cream offers 1000 IU (333 RAE) of vitamin A, which is equivalent to 37% of the reference daily intake (RDI) for adults (4).

Vitamin A helps to strengthen immune response, and it also provides benefits for our vision (6).

Key Point: Clotted cream provides more than one third of the RDI for vitamin A per serving.

2) A Rich Source of Dairy Fat

The days of fearing all dietary fats are over, and research has shown that high-fat dairy products are probably beneficial/neutral for health.

For instance, some recent controlled trials and systematic reviews on dairy fat have demonstrated that;

  • In a systematic review of the evidence, whole fat dairy products have minor effects on cardiometabolic risk factors (7).
  • 40 grams of cream per day for eight weeks had no adverse effect on cholesterol metabolism/lipids in a randomized and controlled trial (8).

While butter may raise LDL levels in some individuals, cream does not have this effect due to the milk fat globule membrane (MFGM).

MFGM is a kind of structure that surrounds lipids (fats) in milk and helps to regulate postprandial (post-meal) cholesterol, inflammation, and insulin response (8, 9).

Furthermore, the fats in clotted cream may help to increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Note: for sources of dairy fat that are also high in protein, Greek yogurt is worth a look.

Key Point: Clotted cream is full of dairy fats, but recent research suggests that these fats are neutral or potentially beneficial for health.

Drawbacks

Here are a couple of concerns about clotted cream related to the nutrient profile and texture.

1) Very High In Calories

Nutritionally, there is nothing particularly “bad” about clotted cream. However, it is worth noting just how rich in calories the cream is.

As always, the caloric content of a food has no bearing on how healthy (or not) it is.

That said, with over 500 calories per 100 grams, it can add a significant contribution of extra energy/calories into our diets if we don’t measure our serving carefully.

Generally speaking, a serving should be around one ounce (28 grams).

If consuming clotted cream in large concentrations, it is better to use it as an occasional treat.

Key Point: Clotted cream is extremely high in calories, so it is easy to over-consume – especially when it tastes so good.

2) The Texture Is Not Like Regular Cream

I love the texture of clotted cream; it’s thick, creamy, and delicious.

However, depending on what you want to use the cream for, clotted cream might not be suitable due to its thickness.

For instance;

  • Clotted cream doesn’t really work as a “runny” sauce for desserts. It is too thick.
  • You also can’t use it in coffee, black tea or hot chocolate like you can with regular cream.

In other words; this is all fine as long as you don’t expect clotted cream to behave in the same way as regular (liquid) cream.

Key Point: Clotted cream is very thick and does not have a liquid consistency. Therefore, it is not as versatile as regular cream.

How Is Clotted Cream Made?

The process of making clotted cream is quite straightforward, and it doesn’t rely on any advanced techniques or equipment.

Production Process

The production process of clotted cream follows these steps;

  • Firstly, producers isolate and separate pure cream from whole cow’s milk.
  • After this, some of the milk can be added back to the cream as long as the butterfat content remains above the clotted cream’s minimum specification of 55% butterfat.
  • Following this, the next stage is to heat the milk at 70-80°C (158-176°F) but not allow it to boil.
  • Overall, this heating time should be for a minimum of one hour until a thick crust forms on top of the cream.
  • Once the cream has developed a thick crust, it is allowed to slowly cool over many hours, during which time the cream thickens.

It is thought that this process of ‘clotting’ cream was first undertaken as a way of preserving fresh cream for longer periods.

Key Point: Clotted cream has a very traditional preparation method, and it doesn’t require any kind of advanced technology.

Clotted Cream Recipe

To make genuine 55% butterfat clotted cream, it would require a lot of milk and a lot of time and effort to separate all the cream.

However, for anyone who wants to have an attempt at making clotted cream at home, it is possible to make something similar.

Ingredients

You can make your own clotted cream providing you have some cream with a high concentration of butterfat.

For instance, in the United States, heavy whipping cream (36% butterfat) or preferably manufacturer’s cream (40% butterfat) would be ideal.

In the United Kingdom, double cream (48% butterfat) would be ideal.

The terminology of high-butterfat cream will vary by country, but basically, anything around 40% butterfat or higher would be best.

Also, using non-ultra-pasteurized cream will provide a better taste experience. In short; the better quality cream you use, the better the taste will be.

Method

To make clotted cream, stick to the following simple steps;

  • First, preheat the oven to the specification cooking temperature for clotted cream, which is 80°C (176°F).
  • Pour around 1 liter (about 2 pints) of cream into a baking dish and put it in the oven.
  • Allow the cream to bake in the oven for around 12 hours and then remove it from the oven.
  • Now, the majority of the cream will be thick and crusty on top with a small amount of liquid cream remaining. Separate the thick cream from the rest and put it in the refrigerator to chill. You can use any remaining liquid cream in whatever way you wish.
  • The following day, the cream in the refrigerator will have become thicker and will now resemble clotted cream.
Key Point: It is simple to make a clotted cream-alike recipe at home.

How To Use Clotted Cream

Clotted Cream, Scones, and Strawberry Jam - Traditional British Snack.

First of all; you can use clotted cream in any way you wish. Since the cream tastes so good, some people even enjoy it by the spoon.

However, here are a few different ways you can use it.

1) With Fresh Berries

While it isn’t quite the same as regular (liquid) cream, eating fresh berries alongside a thick dollop of cream tastes great.

2) Scones

The classic/traditional/old-fashioned way to eat clotted cream is with scones and strawberry jam (jelly). This way is how most people in the UK consume clotted cream.

Low-carb dieters could try these wheat-free scones.

3) Clotted Cream Scrambled Eggs

For the tastiest scrambled eggs of all time, clotted cream can give eggs a thick and fluffy texture and a delicious taste.

To make these, just add a little (extra) clotted cream to your favorite scrambled eggs recipe.

Where To Buy

Clotted cream can be hard to find in the United States, but some Whole Foods stores sell it.

Additionally, several online stores (like Walmart and Amazon) sell it, but the price can be a little on the expensive side.

If you can’t find a reasonably priced option, it may be worth trying the homemade version.

For those that live in the UK, it should be possible to find clotted cream in almost any larger store for a reasonable price.

Availability in other countries will vary, but checking local import shops or an online search may help to find it.

Final Thoughts

Clotted cream is a delicious dairy food, and it is worth trying at least once for those who have never had it.

Although the nutrition profile isn’t anything spectacular, it is an excellent source of vitamin A.

But the best reason to try it is the incredible taste it offers.

For more on high-fat dairy foods, see this guide to delicious heavy cream substitutes.

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IMO best eaten with succulent, juicy, sweet English strawberries in June. A favourite at Wimbledon!!