But then don’t we take just about everything for granted nowadays? Shame on us! Oops, sorry, I turned into Pat Buchanan for a second there.
Whipped cream wasn’t always easy to come by in days past. You see it takes cream with a butterfat content of at least 30% to make whipped cream of any sort. But the butterfat content of natural milk is highly variable. Even once it separates, there’s no guarantee that the upper layer of cream will be sufficiently rich to be whippable. So depending on the age and/or breed of your cow, its diet, and its relative health, there may or may not have been a dollop of the good stuff on your blueberry cobbler come Saturday night.
What we know as “heavy” whipping cream today is up to about 40% fat, a near impossible feat even for a cow with the udders of Pamela Andersen and the physique of Jack LaLanne. That degree of richness isn’t even necessary to make good whipped cream. In fact more than a few pastry makers prefer a whip made from either light cream, or heavy cream diluted to a richness of about 35% butterfat (this produces a fluff that’s both lighter and higher in volume than heavy cream whip).
But no matter how you like your whipped cream, it took the invention of the cetrifugal butterfat seperator, which allowed dairymen to control the amount of fat in a given batch of cream, to give us all a steady supply of fat-laden, whip-friendly cream.