Clotted cream

Clotted cream (Cornish: dehen molys, sometimes called scalded, clouted, Devonshire or Cornish cream) is a thick cream made by heating full-cream cow's milk using steam or a water bath and then leaving it in shallow pans to cool slowly. During this time, the cream content rises to the surface and forms "clots" or "clouts", hence the name.[1] It forms an essential part of a cream tea.

Clotted cream
A tub of clotted cream, showing top crust.
Alternative namesClouted cream, Devonshire cream, Cornish cream
Place of originEngland
Region or stateDevon, Cornwall

Although its origin is uncertain, the cream's production is commonly associated with dairy farms in South West England and in particular the counties of Devon and Cornwall. The current largest commercial producer in the United Kingdom is Rodda's at Scorrier, near Redruth, Cornwall, which can produce up to 25 tons of clotted cream a day.[2] In 1998 the 'Cornish clotted cream' was registered as a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) under European Union law. The designation can be used if the production follows certain requirements, from milk produced in Cornwall and the cream has a minimum fat content of 55%. Upon Brexit, the PDO was also registered under UK law. It is recognised as a geographical indication in Georgia, Iceland, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and Ukraine.[3]


"Its orient tinge, like spring-time morn,
Or baby-buttercups newly-born;
Its balmy perfume, delicate pulp,
One longs to swallow it all at a gulp,
Sure man had ne'er such gifts or theme
As your melt-in-mouthy Devonshire cream."

"An eulogy on a can of cream sent from a lady in Exeter". (extract)
—William Barry Peacock, Manchester, 1853[4]

Clotted cream has been described as having a "nutty, cooked milk" flavour,[5] and a "rich sweet flavour" with a texture that is grainy, sometimes with oily globules on the crusted surface.[6][7] It is a thick cream, with a very high fat content (a minimum of 55 percent, but an average of 64 percent). For comparison, the fat content of single cream is only 18 percent.[8]

According to the United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency, clotted cream provides 586 kilocalories (2,450 kJ) per 100 grams (3.5 oz).[9]


Originally made by farmers to reduce the amount of waste from their milk, clotted cream has become so deep-rooted in the culture of southwest Britain that it is embedded as part of the region's tourist attraction.[10] While there is no doubt of its strong and long association with Cornwall and Devon, it is not clear how ancient its origins are.

A Roman-era Cornish fogou or souterrain

The Oxford Companion to Food follows traditional folklore by suggesting it may have been introduced to Cornwall by Phoenician traders in search of tin.[11] It is similar to kaymak (or kajmak), a Near Eastern delicacy that is made throughout the Middle East, southeast Europe, Iran, Afghanistan, India, and Turkey. A similar clotted cream known as 'urum' (өрөм) is also made in Mongolia.

Contemporary ancient food experts,[12] noting Strabo's commentaries on Britain[Note 1] have proposed that the early Britons would probably have clotted cream to preserve its freshness.

More recently, regional archaeologists [12][13] have associated the stone fogou (dial. 'fuggy-hole'), or souterrains, found across Atlantic Britain, France, and Ireland as a possible form of "cold store" for dairy production of milk, cream, and cheese in particular. Similar functions are ascribed to the linhay (or 'linney') stone-built form, often used as a dairy in later medieval longhouses in the same regions.[14]

A 'Cow Man' weighs milk at Dartington, 1942

It has long been disputed whether clotted cream originated in Devon or Cornwall,[4] and which county makes it the best.[15] There is evidence that the monks of Tavistock Abbey were making clotted cream in the early 14th century.[16] After their abbey had been ransacked by Vikings in AD 997, the monks rebuilt it with the help of Ordulf, Earl of Devon. Local workers were drafted in to help with the repairs, and the monks rewarded them with bread, clotted cream, and strawberry preserves.[17] The 1658 cookery book The Compleat Cook had a recipe for "clouted cream".[18]

A tin that was used in the 1970s to send clotted cream through the post from Devon

In the 19th century it was regarded as better nourishment than "raw" cream because that cream was liable to go sour and be difficult to digest, causing illness.[19] An article from 1853 calculates that creating clotted cream will produce 25 percent more cream than regular methods.[20] In Devon, it was so common that in the mid-19th century it was used in the formative processes of butter, instead of churning cream or milk. The butter made in this way had a longer lifespan and was free from any negative flavours added by the churning.[21]

It has long been the practice for local residents in southwest England, or those on holiday, to send small tins or tubs of clotted cream by post to friends and relations in other parts of the British Isles.[7]

Protected Designation of Origin

In 1993, an application was made for the name Cornish clotted cream to have a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in the European Union for cream produced by the traditional recipe in Cornwall. This was accepted in 1998.[22] Cornish clotted cream must be made from milk produced in Cornwall and have a minimum butterfat content of 55 percent.[23] The unique, slightly yellow, Cornish clotted cream colour is due to the high carotene levels in the grass.[23]


Traditionally, clotted cream was created by straining fresh cow's milk, letting it stand in a shallow pan in a cool place for several hours to allow the cream to rise to the surface, then heating it either over hot cinders or in a water bath, before a slow cooling.[6][24] The clots that formed on the top were then skimmed off with a long-handled cream-skimmer, known in Devon as a reamer or raimer.[24] By the mid-1930s, the traditional way of using milk brought straight from the dairy was becoming a rarity in Devon because using a cream separator actively separated the cream from the milk using centrifugal force, which produced far more clotted cream than the traditional method from the same amount of milk. As a farmer's wife in Poundsgate said, "the separator saves a whole cow!"[24]

Today, there are two distinct modern methods for making clotted cream. The "float cream method" includes scalding a floating layer of double cream in milk (skimmed or whole) in shallow trays. To scald, the trays are heated using steam or very hot water. After the mixture has been heated for up to an hour it is slowly cooled for 12 hours or more, before the cream is separated and packaged.[6] The "scald cream method" is similar, but the milk layer is removed and a layer of cream which has been mechanically separated to a minimum fat level is used. This cream is then heated in a similar manner, but at a lower temperature and after a set amount of time it is then chilled and packaged.[6] In the United Kingdom the resultant cream is deemed to be equivalent to pasteurised for legal purposes. Unlike pasteurisation, however, there is no requirement for the temperatures to be recorded on thermograph charts.[25] As the temperatures are lower than used in standard pasteurisation, much care is needed in ensuring high standards of hygiene.

The largest manufacturer in the United Kingdom is Rodda's, a family-owned business based in Scorrier, Cornwall.[26] Founded in 1890,[2] the company was producing over 1,000,000 pounds (450,000 kg) per year in 1985.[27] In 2010 the managing director said that they might produce as little as 5 long tons (5,100 kg; 11,000 lb) a day in January, but up to 25 long tons (25,000 kg; 56,000 lb) a day as Christmas approached.[2] In the early 1980s, Rodda's signed deals with international airlines to serve small tubs of clotted cream with the in-flight desserts.[27] The company considers the annual Wimbledon tennis championships one of their peak selling periods. As a by-product, for every 100 imperial gallons (450 l; 120 US gal) of milk used, 94 imperial gallons (430 l; 113 US gal) of skimmed milk is produced, which is then used in food manufacture.[2]

One Devon manufacturer, Definitely Devon was purchased by Robert Wiseman Dairies in March 2006, closing one of the two Devon dairies and moving all production to Okehampton.[28] However, in 2011 Robert Wiseman sold the Definitely Devon Brand to Rodda's, who moved the production of Definitely Devon to Cornwall, which caused some controversy as the name was not changed,[29] prompting an investigation by Trading Standards.[30]

Throughout southwest England, clotted cream manufacture is a cottage industry, with many farms and dairies producing cream for sale in local outlets. Clotted cream is also produced in Somerset,[31] Dorset,[32] Herefordshire,[33] Pembrokeshire,[34] and the Isle of Wight.[35]

When authentic clotted cream is not available, there are ways to create a substitute product, such as by mixing mascarpone with whipped cream, a little sugar, and vanilla extract.[36]


Cream tea

A modern cream tea.

Clotted cream is an essential part of a cream tea, a favourite with tourists particularly in Cornwall and Devon. It is served on scones—or the more traditional "splits"[37]—with strawberry jam,[38] along with a pot of tea. Traditionally, there are differences in the way it is eaten in each county: in Devon, the cream is traditionally spread first on the scone, with the jam dolloped on top. In Cornwall the jam is spread first with a dollop of cream.[39] Cream teas, known as Devonshire teas, spread to southern Australia as early immigrants from Cornwall and Devon took their traditional recipes with them.[40] In 2010, Langage Farm in Devon started a campaign for "Devon cream tea" to have protected designation of origin similar to "Cornish clotted cream".[41][42] One variation on a cream tea is called "Thunder and Lightning" which consists of a round of bread topped with clotted cream and golden syrup, honey, or treacle.[43]


Clotted cream can be used as an accompaniment to hot or cold desserts. Clotted cream, especially clotted cream from Devon, where it is less yellow due to lower carotene levels in the grass, is regularly used in baking. It is used throughout southwest England in the production of ice cream and fudge.

Savoury dishes

Clotted cream is used in some savoury dishes,[44] and can be incorporated into mashed potato, risotto or scrambled eggs.[45]


Cabbage cream (which does not contain cabbage in spite of the name) was a delicacy in the mid-17th century: layers of clotted cream were interspersed with sugar and rosewater, creating a cabbage-like effect when served.[46] It was a common accompaniment to junket, a milk-based dessert which went out of fashion in the mid-20th century.

Literature and folklore

Clotted cream was mentioned in The Shepheardes Calendar, a poem by Edmund Spenser in 1579:

Ne would she scorn the simple shepherd swain,
For she would call him often heam,
And give him curds and clouted cream.[4]

As with many Cornish and Devonian icons, clotted cream has become entrenched in local folklore. For example, one myth tells of Jenny who enticed the giant Blunderbore (sometimes called Moran) by feeding him clotted cream. He eventually fell in love with her and made her his fourth wife.[47] Another myth, from Dartmoor, tells of a princess who wanted to marry an elven prince, but according to tradition had to bathe in pure cream first. Unfortunately, a witch who wanted the prince for her daughter kept souring the cream. Eventually, the prince offered the princess clotted cream, which the witch was unable to sour.[48]

Clotted cream is also mentioned as one of the staple foods of the hobbits in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings books.[49]

See also


  1. "They live off their herds ... As they have mines of tin and lead, they give these metals and hides from their cattle to the sea traders ... instead of olive oil they use butter."


  1. "BBC - Devon Great Outdoors - Tony Beard's Dartmoor Diary".
  2. "Interview with Nicholas Rodda". Archived from the original on 6 November 2010. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
  3. "GIs worldwide compilation". Origin GI. 3 September 2021. Retrieved 2 October 2021.
  4. Hawker, Rev. J. M. (1881), "Clouted Cream", Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 13: 317–323
  5. Figioni, Paula (2010). How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science. John Wiley and Sons. p. 363. ISBN 978-0-470-39267-6.
  6. Early, Ralph (1998). The technology of dairy products. Springer. pp. 45–49. ISBN 0-7514-0344-X.
  7. Spencer, Nikki (30 May 1998). "The tartars of cream". The Independent. London. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  8. Barnett, Anne (1998). Understanding Ingredients. Heinemann. p. 26. ISBN 0-435-42827-6.
  9. Food Standards Agency: Manual of Nutrition. HMSO London. 2008.
  10. Terry Marsden; Jonathan Murdoch (2006). Between the local and the global: confronting complexity in the contemporary agri-food sector. Emerald Group Publishing. pp. 306–309. ISBN 0-7623-1317-X. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
  11. Alan Davidson; Tom Jaine (2006). The Oxford companion to food. Oxford University Press. p. 225. ISBN 0-19-280681-5.
  12. Wood, Jacqui. Prehistoric Cooking. Stroud: Tempus, 2001. ISBN 0-752-41943-9
  13. Medieval Decon & Cornwall: Shaping an Ancient Countryside, Ed. Sam Turner, 2006
  14. "The Pre-Norman Landscape". 12 December 2020.
  15. See for instance: A tour through Cornwall, in the autumn of 1808. Wilkie and Robinson. 1809. pp. 360–361. clouted cream. and Spencer, Nikki (30 May 1998). "The tartars of cream". The Independent. London. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  16. Lane, John (1998). In Praise of Devon: A Guide to Its People, Places and Character. Dundurn Press Ltd. ISBN 1-870098-75-7.
  17. "Did cream teas originate in Tavistock in 997AD". BBC News. 17 January 2004. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
  18. "To make Clouted Cream - Vintage Recipes". Archived from the original on 19 August 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  19. Sinclair, Sir John (1807). The code of health and longevity: or, A concise view, of the principles calculated for the preservation of health, and the attainment of long life. Printed for A. Constable & co. pp. 272–273. clouted cream.
  20. "Rural economy: The dairy" (PDF). New York Times. 21 January 1853. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
  21. The transactions of the Provincial medical and surgical association. Provincial Medical and Surgical Association, Worcester. 1839. pp. 203–204.
  22. "Directive 98". 30 September 1998. supplementing the Annex to Regulation (EC) No 2400/96 on the entry of certain names in the Register of protected designation of origin and protected geographical indications
  23. "EU Protected Food Names Scheme — UK registered names — National application No: 03514: Cornish clotted cream". Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Archived from the original on 22 August 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2016.
  24. Fielden, Marjory Eckett (1934). "Old-time survivals in Devon". Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association. Torquay: The Devonshire Press. LXVI: 367.
  25. A. H. Varnam; Jane P. Sutherland (2001). Milk and milk products: technology, chemistry and microbiology. Springer. pp. 204–205. ISBN 0-8342-1955-7.
  26. "Rodda's clotted cream boss whips up a media frenzy". The Observer. London. 22 May 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  27. Anderson, Lisa (23 January 1985). "'Clotted cream' caviar of dairy". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
  28. "Forty-five jobs go in dairy close". BBC News. 23 October 2006. Retrieved 2 December 2010.
  29. "Fury as 'Definitely Devon' clotted cream is made in Cornwall and label says add jam first". This Is Devon. 21 April 2011. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  30. "Trading probe into 'Definitely Devon' claims". This Is Cornwall. 26 May 2011. Archived from the original on 10 February 2012. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  31. "Restaurants in UK - Book UK Restaurants - Bookatable". Archived from the original on 26 March 2012.
  32. "Dorset Afternoon Teas at Heights Hotel on Portland". Heights Hotel. Archived from the original on 9 July 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
  33. The Teashop, Ross-on-Wye Archived June 21, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  34. Welsh Icons: Welsh Dairy Products Archived 2011-10-02 at the Wayback Machine
  35. "Calbourne Classics Isle of Wight clotted cream". Archived from the original on 11 January 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2011.
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  37. "Nigel Slater's Devonshire cream tea recipes". The Guardian. London. 22 August 2010.
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  40. Wilfrid Prest; Kerrie Round; Carol S. Fort (2001). Wakefield Companion to South Australian History. Wakefield Press. p. 210. ISBN 1-86254-558-8.
  41. Savill, Richard (20 May 2010). "Cream teas battle rages between Devon and Cornwall". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
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  43. "Britain's Best at Teatime". The New York Times. 5 September 1982. Retrieved 28 January 2007.
  44. "BBC - Food - Clotted cream recipes".
  45. "Clotted cream: the perfect summer treat". The Guardian. London. 22 June 2011.
  46. A gift to young housewives. Indiana University Press. 1998. pp. 368–369. ISBN 0-253-21210-3.
  47. Viccars, Sue (2011). Frommer's Devon and Cornwall With Your Family. Frommer. p. 238. ISBN 978-0-470-74947-0.
  48. Sandles, Tim. "Dartmoor Clotted Cream". Legendary Dartmoor. Retrieved 3 December 2010.
  49. Smith, Noble (30 October 2012). The Wisdom of the Shire: A Short Guide to a Long and Happy Life. Internet Archive. Macmillan. pp. 13. ISBN 9781250025562. Retrieved 26 January 2017. lotr OR lord of the rings clotted cream.

Further reading

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