Light cream is different from other types of cream owing to its fat content, which is between 18 to 30 percent but is typically about 20 percent. Table cream and coffee cream are two of its most common alternative names.
Cream is the milk fat that rises naturally to the top of unhomogenized milk. Cream production entails separating the milk fat from the milk through centrifugation, or the spinning of milk at high speeds, until attaining a cream with the desired amount of fat content.
It is fat content that primarily distinguishes the type of cream. Whipping cream contains about 30 to 36 percent milk fat. Heavy cream, or double cream in the United Kingdom, is 36 to 40 percent milk fat. Heavy whipping cream is another name for heavy cream in the United States.
Half and half is equal parts milk and cream. It generally has about 10.6 to 18 percent milk fat. Similar to table cream, half and half appears most frequently on condiment bars in coffeehouses. Light cream, with its slightly higher milk fat, works well in coffee or poured over berries.
Whipping cream, or light whipping cream, is useful for more than its name implies. Its consistency and fat content add body and flavor to soups and sauces that call for cream. Heavy cream is actually better for making whipped cream, according to MarthaStewart.com, and it's also useful for thickening sauces and making desserts.