Not without a cow. In which case, technically, it’s not by yourselves, is it?
We get a surprising – no, shocking – number of questions from people asking how to make cream, heavy cream, a whipping cream, a single cream, a double cream, etc., etc. Some of these questions come to us from Tunisia and Bangladesh, and we can appreciate that there are parts of the world where access to dairy products is almost as limited as the available information about dairy products. But those of us living in areas with a long history of dairy cultivation should know that cream is the butterfat-rich part that naturally rises to the top of non-homogenized cow’s milk.
And like salt, chicken livers, and apples, it is not the product of another recipe, it is a naturally occurring food that you cannot make yourself – it is an ur-ingredient, if you will.
In modern milk production, cream is separated from milk with the use of a centrifuge called a separator. In less technical times, milk was poured into shallow pans and the cream rose naturally to the top. In Britain, cream that was skimmed from the top after 12 hours was called cream or single cream. Cream that wasn’t separated until 24 hours had elapsed was called double cream.
It is possible to “water down” a rich cream with milk to approximate the fat content of light cream or half and half. It is sometimes possible (depending on the recipe and the role that the cream is to play) to substitute a evaporated milk for cream. It is possible in some recipes to leave out the cream entirely, perhaps substituting another liquid in its place, perhaps not. And occasionally, you can substitute a simple white sauce for cream in some dishes.
But – and you heard it here first, Bangladesh – you simply cannot make cream yourself.