Fresh dairy products include nonfat milk, whole milk, half-and-half, and cream. The single primary difference among them—fat content—is the property by which the FDA defines and classifies each of these fresh dairy products. Fresh dairy products are valued by the artisan confectioner for their flavor, and they are, when practical, the dairy products of choice.
The main drawbacks of fresh dairy products are storage requirements, high water content, and cost. Dairy storage seldom presents a large obstacle to the artisan confectioner, who purchases such products frequently and in small enough quantities that storage does not become an issue. Water content can be a problem, though, when making confections such as caramels, which use a large quantity of dairy product and require long cooking to remove moisture.