What is whipped cream?
- Whipped cream is created using heavy cream, which contains roughly 36% milkfat
- You make whipped cream by whipping heavy cream with a whisk or electric mixer until it forms a light and fluffy consistency
- As you whip the heavy cream, the fluffy structure begins to hold tiny air pockets
- The technical term for these pockets is: “fat-stabilized air bubbles”
- Whipped cream made by hand ends up being twice the volume of the original heavy cream
Nitrous oxide (N2O) whipped cream (in a can)
- Nitrous oxide is added to the cream in a dispenser using whipped cream charger bulbs.
- Inside a can of whipped cream the nitrous oxide and heavy cream mix under higher pressure
- Under the pressure, the nitrous oxide N2O dissolves into the milk fat of the heavy cream
- When you press the button on top, the pressure forces the heavy cream infused with nitrous oxide out
- As the pressure subsides outside of the can, the N2O expands and is released from the cream, boiling out and creating fluffy air pockets
- The fluffy nature we are familiar with in canned whipped cream is four times the volume of the original heavy cream
- These additional air pockets are what give canned whipped cream it’s much lighter texture and taste over regular whipped cream.
- Nitrous oxide is also bacteriostatic, meaning it stops bacteria from growing. Basically that allows you to keep it in the fridge longer!
While you could try and use a different gas to fill the can, the result would just be an ooze of thickened milk (similar to what you see when the N2O is almost gone from the can). In the same way, if you used a less fatty cream (such as half-&-half which is 15% fat, or whole milk which is 3% fat) it would be harder for the nitrous to dissolve, and the end result would be a far less foamy cream.