Buttered up

Word on the keto-street is that Organic Valley Heavy Whipping Cream is the only brand that consistently has no carbs. Their process is good enough to take only the fat and leave all of the lactose behind. And it’s organic–even better.

But we have a problem. We’ve notice that the Organic Valley cream we get from our local co-op is often very clumpy, while the Organic Valley cream that we get from another grocery store is consistently smoother.

So what’s going on in that clumpy container? In “On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen,” Harold McGee says it simply: “you agitate a container of cream until the fat globules are damaged and their fat leaks out and comes together into masses large enough to gather.” I suspect that the creamery trucks need better shocks to avoid all of that agitation.


The clumps that we find are baby butter. We try to stir them back into the cream, but we are really just breaking them up for a more even distribution. When we heat cream with clumps, they turn into yellow pools of butter. When Ted found a very clumpy carton this weekend, his idea was to put it in the microwave to heat, then it would re-distribute itself better. After heating and stirring, he put it in the fridge. When it came out of the fridge, there was a butter disk on top! (It was half-eaten by the time I took a picture. No, I didn’t eat it.)

Now, that’s cool, right? But we have a problem. We just extracted fat from the cream. We could do a rigorous weighing and calculation to determine how much fat was removed from the container to calculate and use the “thin” cream for Nora. But instead we bought a new carton and I will drink the thin cream in my coffee this week. Everybody wins.

Lesson: Buy smooth cream if possible. If your cream is clumpy, don’t heat it. Redistribute the clumps as well as you can for reliable fat measurement.

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About Christy Anderson Brekken

In no particular order... Instructor and Researcher, Department of Applied Economics, Oregon State University. Educational background: University of MN Law School, 2005. MS in Ag and Resource Economics, Oregon State University, 2011. Teaches: Agricultural Law, Environmental Law. Mother: brilliant 9 year old boy; brilliant 6 year old girl with benign myoclonic epilepsy on a modified ketogenic diet therapy. Married to: Ted Brekken, OSU Department of Electrical Engineering. Ride: Xtra-cycle Edgerunner with kid seat; 400-pound cargo capacity. Grew up: Devils Lake, ND. Lived in: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Pohang, South Korea, Trondheim, Norway, Corvallis, OR. Interests: Cooking, knitting, eating, yoga, laughing, hiking, traveling, staying sane.

2 thoughts on “Buttered up

  1. Good to know that the Organic Valley cream is considered zero carb. I had searched long and hard for it because it was the only brand I could find that seemed to really be from grass-fed cows. Unfortunately I can only order it once a month from a local store here and so I put part of my first case in the freezer. The cream all separated! Now when I thaw it I have to whip all of it to get the butter lumps distributed evenly but I still feel like maybe that’s not good enough as sometimes it doesn’t seem exactly even. Now I’m wondering if I should check with the company about it being zero carb, and if they can confirm, ask my dietician to add this particular brand to the ketocalculator for me…

    • Hi Megan,

      Organic Valley should really be in the keto calculator. Our dietician told us about it, check with yours!

      If you freeze it, it WILL separate. Not matter what. I don’t think that there is a reliable way to reincorporate it. If anyone else knows, please share! I looked at buying it by the case and freezing it too, but my test run with separation was pretty conclusive for me. Maybe you can get your local store to carry it regularly? They also make a 1/2 pint size. Maybe that would be more attractive to your local store, as other people might buy it in smaller quantities.

      I noticed that the cartons that are in stock at our coop have changed recently. I’m not sure if it will make a difference. We will wait and see.


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