For people who care about their food

Confused about Aus/NZ cream?

It’s easy enough to get confused about cream if you’re in the UK and using a British cook book. If you then start using a Australian cook book, or have to deal with New Zealand ingredients, the confusion’s that much greater!

So let’s have a look at cream and the different varieties available in the Australian and New Zealand markets.

Australia and New Zealand

One bit of (comparative) good news is that food standards in Australia and New Zealand are dealt with by a single bi-national government agency, Food Standards Australia New Zealand. So you don’t have the same problems that you do, say, in multiple jurisdictions like the US and the EU.

Not only that, but there are fewer definitions to wrestle with, too. The very basic standard for cream is that it must contain no less than 350g of milk fat per kilogram; and that the final composition of cream obtained by separation from milk may be adjusted by adding milk or milk-derived products. So it seems that when you buy Aussie or Kiwi cream, you’re actually getting something which isn’t chock full of additives, which is good. (As long as it’s not thickened cream – see below!)



Pure cream

This is the basic standard for cream in Aus and NZ. It contains 35% fat, so it’s quite heavy – it equates roughly to the UK definition of whipping cream.

Light cream

This contains 18% fat and therefore equates pretty much directly to UK single cream.

Other creams, dairy or otherwise

Sour cream

Much the same as the UK definition of crème fraîche, but a little heavier; pure cream that’s been soured by lactic acid producing bacteria. The fat content percentage is generally in the high 30s (38% or so).

Light sour cream

This is more like UK sour or soured cream – 18% fat cream soured by lactic acid producing bacteria.

Canned cream (reduced-fat)

This must contain at least 25% fat, so it’s rather thicker than UK single cream. Don’t be misled by the ‘(reduced-fat)’ in the name!

Commercial whipped aerosol cream

This comes in at about 28% milk fat, though it’s not reduced-fat as such – it’s produced by mixing cream with a propellant (usually nitrous oxide) and adding stabilisers, emulsifiers and sugar.

Thickened cream

This refers to a process – it’s possible to get thickened cream at either 35% or 18% fat. The thickening is done by separating the milk into a highly concentrated milk fat stream (cream) and a non-milk fat stream (skimmed milk) and adding gelatine and/or vegetable gum to increase the viscosity.

UHT thickened cream

Aus/NZ ultra high temperature thickened cream is pure cream that’s had vegetable gum added and then been heated to 133°C-140°C for at least one second before packaging to give it longer shelf life and higher viscosity. Comes in at 35% fat.

3 Responses to “Confused about Aus/NZ cream?”

  1. Barry and Kate

    We are Cornish born, emigrated to NZ in 2005 and own a cafe in the countryside in the South Island. We serve traditional cream teas and make our own clotted cream which has proved so popular that we have a mail order service now! It has taken some time to get the clotting process right so the cream is as we remember it in the West Country but it’s been worth it…

  2. Not Delia

    Hi Barry and Kate

    Thanks for your comment. I’d love to hear about how you make your clotted cream. Would you like to do a guest blog about it for Not Delia? (If so, please just reply here, and I’ll email you.)

    You might also be interested to know that we run a forum for British expats in New Zealand:

    Hope to “see” you again soon.

  3. Sam

    Just found your website: it’s quite inspirational! Makes me want to buy nice knives for the kitchen.

    I’ve moved in the opposite direction here: a kiwi who now lives in the UK (and has done so for some years now.)

    I remember being quite surprised that not all cream would whip over here! What is this “whipping cream” you have to search for in the store!? The other confusing thing was the sour cream over here; it never quite seemed to be right. After spending a little time in USA I found myself thoroughly confused, too, I would never have known the world of cream to be so complex.

    Nice to see a simple clarification of the differences. I had never quite figured out the exact differences before.

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