What is half-and-half exactly? A short guide!
The name is quite clear: half-and-half: 2 halves of equal parts in a combination. The combination is that of milk and cream.
Half-and-half can be used as a supplement to coffee, and tea and can also be used for other purposes and depending on the type of cream that’s used (something with the degree of fat).
When you hear the half cream, they’re likely talking about half-and-half.
What is half-and-half?
It’s a combination of 2 equal parts of milk and cream.
The % of fat in the cream in half-and-half varies between 10 to 18 %. Heavy cream has more than double that (36% or more).
You can use half-and-half in other recipes but it cannot be seen as a full replacement for heavy cream.
Half-and-half is mostly used as a coffee creamer and gives it that extra touch and taste to your coffee.
Types and varieties of half-and-half
There are some varieties and types of half-and-half available. Mostly they have to do with the degree of fat in the cream.
Half-and-half is made with milk and cream. These 2 components have a certain degree of fat in them. If you buy fat-free, the milk has been processed and replaced by alternatives.
We don’t say you shouldn’t use it but there are better alternatives if you look for a fat-free supplement to your coffee, like creamer or nothing at all.
Generally, the more processes are involved the more harmful replacements can be added.
At Golden Sin, we like to keep things pure and limit the intake of natural products if they’re ‘unhealthy’, that’s just our look on the things. People can lose them too much in those things and miss out on the great stuff.
How long does half-and-half last?
Generally, it will stay good for up to 1 week after the expiry date.
If you open it, takes 1 week to 2 weeks, this depends on if they’re pasteurized or not, the supplier will provide additional information but we generally say 1 week after opening the package.
The smaller single-serve packs for individual use, last much longer and chances are that it won’t be that ‘risky’.
Again, if you’re in doubt, get rid of the half-and-half. Think and buy consciously with the amounts that you’ll need.
Cooking with half-and-half
Half-and-half has also other uses in the kitchen and is used for cooking. It can be a great way to stable sauces but it won’t get the same results as heavier cream with a higher fat %.
The higher the fat % of the cream, the less likely it will curdle when boiled.
Half-and-half can be great for use in soups, sauces, pasta recipes, and so on. You’ll be surprised what an extra touch of creaminess can do to your food.
How does half-and-half taste?
If you’re blindfolded, chances are high that you’ll say it’s very rich and creamy milk. It has a richer taste and texture than milk. Normally, people don’t consume half-and-half as a product because it’s a great pair with coffee and other drinks or foods.
Traditionally, there are no sweeteners added with half-and-half because the combination of milk and cream is already great in flavor.
Are there substitutes or alternatives to half-and-half?
You can make it easily by yourself by simply mixing milk and cream in a 1:1 ratio.
Depending on the fat percentage of your cream, you’ll need to add more milk compared to the (heavy) cream. Mostly that will be whipping cream.
- Heavy whipping cream: 4:1 ratio meaning 4 parts of whole milk and 1 part of heavy whipping cream
- Light whipping cream: 3:1 ratio meaning 3 parts of whole milk and 1 part of light whipping cream
Remember, the above ratios are used as general guidance and can be, must be, tweaked by your personal preferences.
That’s what we call the essence of brewing and cooking at home. Tweaking and perfecting the process for the most desired outcome.
Where can you buy half-and-half?
You can buy them in most stores, be it online or in a physical grocery store or supermarket.
You can buy them in different quantities.
Since they contain cream and milk, you’ll find them in the dairy section of the store.
They come in containers. You can also buy single-serve cups as you see them at the restaurant or café.
Before you buy half-and-half, always buy consciously and align it with your needs because these can go bad after some time and won’t give you the same results depending on the fat percentages.
How to store half-and-half?
Since they’re made of milk and cream, there’s dairy involved and thus they need to be stored in a colder environment: the refrigerator. If not, they will go bad faster.
Always look at the expiry date and special labels of the supplier and consume within a respectable time frame.
Some are pasteurized and will have a longer lifespan.
The small, individual packs will last longer and don’t need to be put in the fridge, storing them away in a cool and dark place is key.
Enjoy your coffee!