The Importance of Cold

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Because even mild warmth softens the butterfat skeleton of a cream foam, and liquid fat will collapse the air bubbles, it’s essential to keep cream cold while it’s whipped. It should start out at the low end of 40–50°F/5–10°C, and bowl and beaters should be chilled as well, since both air and beating will quickly warm everything. Ideally, the cream is “aged” in the refrigerator for 12 hours or more before whipping. Prolonged chilling causes some of the butterfat to form crystalline needles that hasten the membrane stripping and immobilize the small portion of fat that’s liquid even in cold cream. Cream that has been left at room temperature and chilled just before use leaks bubble-deflating liquid fat from the beginning of whipping, never rises very high, and more easily becomes granular and watery.