Ice cream 101: What makes ice cream so tasty?
I scream, you scream for ice cream! Who doesn’t like such a delightful dessert? It’s definitely my favorite dessert! Let’s dig into what’s ice cream is all about – ice cream 101.
Table of Contents
Ice cream 101
This cold, soft, and tasty cold treat – ice cream is not just a mixture of milk and flavorings. Ice cream is a prime example of some fairly complex chemistry. This post is more like a deconstruction of ice cream to understand what’s “ice cream” is all about, not so much of “recipes”.
What’s ice cream?
- a soft and creamy frozen dessert made from milk, cream, sugar, and other ingredients.
- a combination of air, ice crystals, fat globules, and a liquid syrup. These are combined to make a colloid (a type of emulsion).
- Ice cream is an emulsion and a foam.
Emulsion: a combination of fat and water that usually wouldn’t mix together without separating. However, it is formed when the milk and cream (fat) are dispersed in the water and ice with the emulsifying agent (usually egg yolk), though commercial brand ice creams may use other agents (e.g., mono- and di-glycerides).
Foam: It is formed as a result of air in the ice cream -not mixing with the other substances, but forming small bubbles in the bulk. Ice actually contains all 3 states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas).
“Ice cream” vs “Ice milk” (Low fat ice cream)
In the United States, ice cream must contain 10 to 16 % milkfat. Higher milk fat ice creams generally have a smoother/creamier texture because they contain a lower amount of water – fewer ice crystals.
Ice creams that contain less than 10% milkfat are referred to as “ice milk” or “low fat” ice cream. Soft serve is in the category.
Origin of ice cream
According to food historians, the history of ice cream begins with ancient flavored ices. Before the invention of milk-based ice creams in the 11th century A.D., ice cream was created by combining pure sweetened ice with variety of toppings and fruits. This made it very expensive and hard to produce in summertime months.
The Chinese are generally credited for creating the first ice creams. An ice-cream-like food was first eaten in China in 618-97AD. King Tang of Shang, had 94 ice men who helped to make a dish of buffalo milk, flour and camphor. A kind of ice-cream was invented in China about 200 BC when a milk and rice mixture was frozen by packing it into snow.
Marco Polo is popularly cited for introducing sherbet to Italy. Historians estimate that this recipe evolved into ice cream sometime in the 16th century. England seems to have discovered ice cream at the same time, or perhaps even earlier than the Italians. “Cream Ice,” as it was called, appeared regularly at the table of Charles I during the 17th century. France was introduced to similar frozen desserts in 1553 by the Italian Catherine de Medici when she became the wife of Henry II of France. It wasn’t until 1660 that ice cream was made available to the general public.
Ice cream styles
- American-style, or Philadelphia-style: ice cream doesn’t contain eggs – the base is made of milk, cream, sugar, and flavorings. This style doesn’t require cooking a stovetop. The ice cream is delicate and smooth, with less richness than custard-based ice cream.
- French-style: ice cream contains egg yolks – the rich, custard-base.
- The Egg-Free Base: This base omits the eggs, but relies on cornstarch as a thickener, along with a small amount of cream cheese for richness and a smooth body.
- The No-Churn Base: this one doesn’t require any cooking nor an ice cream maker. Heavy cream along with sweetened condensed milk (both with high milk-fat contents) are the common ingredients. The condensed milk acts as the thick base, while the cream is whipped and folded in to add a light, airy texture.
Ice cream variations
Ice cream has been popular for hundreds of years but has only become common thanks to the usage of refrigeration. The exploding popularity of ice cream has led to a number of ice cream variations.
- Frozen custard: This super-creamy treat is exactly the same as ice cream, except for the addition of egg yolk to the base. It tends to be dense and soft (more the texture of soft-serve than hard ice cream), and is most commonly sold in the Midwest and South.
- Soft serve (soft ice): It contains the exact same ingredients as regular ice cream, but is generally lower in milk-fat (3 to 6 % milkfat) than ice cream (10 to 18 %). It is produced at a temperature of about −4 °C (25 °F, which allows it to be much smoother) compared to ice cream (at −15 °C (5 °F)). The machine incorporates more air during freezing and doesn’t allow the ice cream to harden as much. The air content, called overrun, can vary from 0 to 60 % of the total volume of the finished product. The amount of air alters the taste of the finished product: It is generally accepted that the ideal air content should be between 33 and 45 % of volume. If more than this, the product loses taste, tends to shrink as it loses air, and melts more quickly than that with less air. Less than 33 to 45 %, the product will not melt as quickly, have a heavy, icy taste, and appears more yellow.
- Gelato: “Gelato” means “ice cream” in Italian. But the two are not the same. It is generally made with a base of 3.25% milk and sugar. Gelato is creamier, smoother, and silkier, as well as denser and more elastic and fluid, than American ice cream. This denseness allows gelato to pack much more flavor than traditional ice cream. While gelato has a custard base, it also contains less milk fat (5-7% less fat, more milk, and less cream than ice cream) and has less air churned into it during the very slow freezing (making the texture denser). Also, because gelato is traditionally served at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream, it feels a bit softer and looks glossier. Authentic gelato generally doesn’t use egg yolks.
- Frozen yogurt: Frozen yogurt is a frozen product containing the same basic ingredients as ice cream, but contains probiotics that help aid digestion. Usually more tart than ice cream, as well as lower in fat (due to the use of milk instead of cream). It is very smooth and is generally much softer than ice cream since yogurt is added. But besides that, it’s made the same way as ice cream.
- Non-dairy ice cream: Many options: 1) freeze the fresh fruit puree 2) blend almond milk with fruits, 3) use full-fat coconut milk, 4) mix frozen fruits with fruit juice, 5) thicken with tofu.
- Sorbet: Sorbet contains fruit and sugar only – no dairy. It’s often churned in an ice cream maker, and incredibly easy to make at home.
- Sherbet: Sherbet is always fruit-based but contains milk, which makes it creamier than sorbet.
- Granita (Italian Ice): Like sorbet, granitas are often made from a puree of fruit, sugar, and water. The difference is in their texture. Unlike sorbets, which are smooth-churned, granita purees are scraped repeatedly during the freezing process, loosening their structure into icy flakes.
Ice Cream Composition
- a) Milk proteins
- b) Egg
- Dairy products
Fat gives ice cream its structure, delivers flavor, stabilizes air bubbles, and boosts the creaminess. Ice cream needs some of the fat to be de-emulsified because it plays an important role in trapping air.
Fat is one of the main components that provide smoothness to ice cream. In an ordinary ice cream recipe, dairy or vegetable fat can take between 0 and 16 % of its mass. Most premium ice creams use 14 % milk fat.
The higher the fat content the richer the taste and the creamier the texture.
Ice cream generally contains “cream“. This would be one of the main fats used, so don’t swap out cream for low-fat milk products if you want soft ice cream.
Egg yolks are another ingredient that adds fat. In addition, egg yolks contain lecithin’s (emulsifiers), which bind fat and water together in a creamy emulsion.
Another option for fat is oil: coconut oil, MCT oil.
The melting temperature of the fats
The melting temperature of the fats used in ice cream is quite important, as fats that melt at temperatures that are too high give a waxy feel in the mouth, whilst it’s difficult to make stable ice cream with those that melt at too low a temperature. Luckily, dairy fat falls just in the right range and you can also make ice cream with palm oil and coconut oil since their melting temperatures are similar.
a) Milk proteins
As one of the key ingredients, milk proteins ensure the production of small fat, air bubbles, and creaminess.
During the ice cream making process, the fat is forced through a small valve under high pressure to break it into small droplets. The milk proteins stick to the surface of these fat droplets, creating a thin membrane. This membrane of protein molecules helps prevent the fat droplets from coalescing back into bigger droplets. Milk proteins also contribute to ice cream’s flavor.
Milk lightens ice cream because of its proteins, which are superior to fat at trapping air (though not as good at holding it). This is the reason why skim milk foams up better than whole milk for cappuccino.
Skim-milk powder is used to increase the solids content of the ice cream and give it more body. It is also an important source of protein which will improve the ice cream nutritionally. Use good quality, fresh powder to avoid imparting a stale flavor to the ice cream.
Eggs (especially yolks) contain fat, egg protein, and emulsifiers. Heated Protein in eggs plays a major role: Heat causes proteins to coagulate into a thick gel that traps water. Heating an ice cream mix containing egg yolks to 70C improves body and texture.
Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) solutions start denaturing at 70C. (See important cooking temperatures). Longer heating times will result in smoother ice cream because the water-binding capacity of a denatured protein is greater than that of the native protein. However, if denaturation leads to aggregation of the protein (forming of clumps), then water-binding capacity may actually decrease.
- enhances the taste
- gives ice cream its structure
- stabilizes air bubbles
- boosts the creaminess
- improve the whipping ability which gives the ice cream greater resistance to melting.
- Egg proteins (when heated) help to bind water and fat together as emulsifiers (primarily lecithin)
Emulsifiers, Stabilizers and Thickening Agents
Ice-cream Stabilizers and Emulsifiers influence significantly the formation and growth of ice cream and the good to eat factor. Of all the dairy ingredients, the ice cream stabilizer emulsifier system is the most important one and is considered to be the heart of ice-cream. Without this, it is impossible to make an ice-cream with a smooth texture, perfect melting quality, creaminess, and at the same time, it holds the overrun of ice cream. Also, it prevents sandiness in the ice cream. Together, the stabilizers and emulsifiers make up less than one half percent by weight of ice cream.
They keep the ice cream smooth and aid the distribution of the fat molecules throughout the colloid.
You might not realize, but when you’re making ice cream using a custard, you’re adding emulsifiers to your ice cream. Egg yolks contain lecithin which is an emulsifier. Also, the proteins in milk can act as an emulsifier in your ice cream.
- enable water and fats/oils to remain mixed together in an emulsion
In ice cream, you try to mix and stabilize a mixture of fat and water: cream + milk. The emulsifiers ensure that it forms one creamy consistency.
- stabilize these air bubbles in the watery ice cream mixture
Before: egg yolk
Now: mono- and di-glycerides, and Polysorbate 80
The variety of emulsifiers in ice cream is slightly less than that of the stabilizers. The 2 main categories are:
- Mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids: fats and oils are triglycerides: a glycerol molecule with 3 attached fatty acid chains. Mono- and diglycerides also have this glycerol structure but they have only 1 (mono) or 2 (di) fatty acid chains attached to them. The glycerol section prefers to sit in the water, while the fatty acid chains prefer fat – keeping the two mixed.
- Lecithin: Lecithin is a small molecule with a head and a tail. The head likes to sit in the water while the tail likes to sit in oil, which helps stabilize them. It sits in egg yolk but can also be derived from soy. In most cases, this soy lecithin is what’s used in ice cream.
A common way to make ice cream at home involves making a slightly thick custard (often using eggs or corn custard powder). Once you’ve made your custard you will aerate it (whip it up) and then freeze it. So why make this custard?
Since the custard is slightly thicker than water (it has a higher viscosity) it will hold on to air more easily. This is partly due to the increase in viscosity, but also due to the proteins and starches that stabilize the foam.
Without realizing it, you’ve added stabilizers to your ice cream: The egg yolk proteins and corn starch. By increasing the thickness of the ice cream, or viscosity, the mixture is stabilized. They also limit the growth of large ice crystals (remember, we want many small ones, not a few large ones), although they don’t influence the overall ice crystal quantity (freezing point depression).
They improve ice cream in several significant ways:
- help to stabilize emulsions
Although they are not true emulsifiers, they act as thickening agents that give foods a firmer texture improving the stability and structure during storage.
- reduce ice crystal growth and air bubble size
Creating a better structure, enabling the formation of small and regular-shaped ice crystals, and producing a homogeneous melting behavior.
- slow down melting
It is advantageous during transport, but it should always be taken into consideration. Too much stabilizer can result in a gummy sensation because of a lack of melting.
- increase smoothness, body, and creaminess
Enabling and facilitating the dispersion of air through the ice cream mixture, making it soft and creamy.
- deliver flavor cleanly
Common stabilizers in ice cream
There aren’t actually that many stabilizers that are commonly used in ice cream. There seem to be 3 main ones, although this will also depend on where you live.
Guar gum & Locust bean gum
These 2 gums naturally occur in nature:
- Locust bean gum can be found in the carob tree (grows in the Mediterranean)
- guar gum comes from the guar bean (found in India).
These two gums have a similar chemical structure but work slightly differently. Both are long carbohydrate chains called galactomannans. These are long chains of mannoses (a sugar) with sidechains of galactoses (hence the name). The ratio of galactose and mannose is what distinguishes the two. Despite their similar structure, they behave quite differently, especially with regard to water solubility.
- Guar gum dissolves in water at room temperature
- locust bean gum will only dissolve at elevated temperatures.
If you’re using these for your ice cream production that’s something to take into account for sure!
Apart from their solubility, they thicken a mixture slightly differently.
- Locust bean gum can form a gel by itself.
- Guar gum will not do so, it will need an additional ingredient. Nevertheless, guar gum is a very powerful thickener, you need a lot less guar gum to create the same thickness compared to corn starch.
Another gum you might find in ice cream, which we won’t discuss in further detail here, is xanthan gum, often used in combination with locust bean gum.
Carrageenans can also be extracted from seaweed. Just like the two gums mentioned above, it is a polysaccharide. However, this polysaccharide is sulfonated meaning that it has sulfate groups attached to it. Because they are also large (and flexible) molecules, they will also form gels.
Commercial ice cream stabilizers
In commercial ice cream production, usual stabilizers like custards and the eggs are not used. There use commercial ice-cream stabilizers and it is common to use a blend of stabilizers and emulsifiers to obtain the maximum product characteristics. Combined ice cream stabilizer emulsifier systems are also available.
Most stabilizers are so-called hydrocolloids and in most cases polysaccharides. These are large molecules that can hold on to a lot of water (and do their stabilizing job of holding onto water, preventing crystal growth, etc.). Their large structures will help them entangle with one another forming a gel-like structure. Most of them are also polysaccharides, being part of the group of carbohydrates.
Thickening and gelling agents either cause a mixture to thicken or cause the water in a mixture to congeal.
Vegetable origin (e.g. locust bean gum (E410), guar gum (E412), carrageenan (E407) and pectin (E440)).
Adding fruit preserves is a great idea
They have concentrated flavor plus a small amount of pectin, which keeps ice crystals small and improves creaminess. Preserves can be swapped out a tablespoon for tablespoon with sugar.
When you just place a container of milk or cream in the freezer, you’ll end up with a stiff block of frozen liquid – not the soft, creamy ice cream. Without air in the ice cream, you wouldn’t be able to feel the soft, melting sensation.
When ice cream is made, it is simultaneously aerated and frozen. Most ice creams will have a significant volume of air contained within them, and this is what the fat, protein, and emulsifier combination is vital for.
Industrial ice cream makers are more efficient to put air in the ice cream than home machines. By leaving the machine on longer it is possible to mix in more air, however, these long residence times (the time the ice cream spends in the machine) can significantly contribute to an increase in ice crystal size.
Overrun is the measurement of air that is whipped into the ice cream and is calculated as the percentage increase in the volume of the finished ice cream. Many commercial ice cream can have an overrun of 75-100%, however super-premium ice creams may be as low as 20%.
One of the most important goals of an ice cream maker is to make ice cream with many small ice crystals for a smooth texture and to preserve that ice crystal size distribution until consumption.
Ice cream creaminess depends on the size of the ice crystals that form during freezing. Rapid chilling and constant churning encourage the water in the ice cream mixture to form lots of minuscule “seed” crystals (propagation).
Your goal to make ice cream soft is –
The more air bubbles there are and the smaller they are, the smoother the ice cream will be. The smaller the crystals, the creamier the texture.
A way around this is using a different type of sugar or add stabilizers.
Freezing adds another important element to the ice cream: the ice itself. Though modern factories commonly use “liquid ammonia” to produce low temperatures, it used to be mixtures of water and salt. Adding salt to water can lower its melting point to as low as -21.1˚C, while liquid ammonia is used at around -30˚C. The colder the refrigerant being used is, the quicker the ice cream can be made.
Ice cream is made in a barrel with rotating scraper blades. When the ice cream touches the sides of the barrel, it freezes, but then is immediately scraped off by the scraper blades. The very small ice crystals produced are dispersed throughout the mixture.
The smaller the ice bubbles and ice crystals, the creamier the ice cream will be.
Milk and Cream promote smoothness and lightness
Dairy products improve smoothness. Thanks to its high concentration of milk solids (such as calcium salts and lactose), which are even more effective than fat at controlling crystal size.
The high-fat content in heavy cream and whipping cream coats ice crystals, preventing them from enlarging. It also acts as a lubricant between crystals, making even ice cream with larger crystals feel smooth on the tongue. The cream is also excellent at trapping and holding air when the mixture is stirred and frozen, which gives the ice cream more body.
If you’ve ever had ice cream that seemed to coat your mouth with fat, it probably had too much cream. The solution is to reduce the cream and add a lower-fat dairy product, such as half-and-half or milk.
Guidelines set by various countries regulate presence of butterfat (minimum is set to at least 10%).
There is no strict guideline on which daily product must be used to be a base of ice cream: from cream, whole milk, condensed milk to instant skim-milk powder etc.
However, higher milk fat ice creams generally have a smoother texture because they contain a lower amount of water – fewer ice crystals.
More cream = creamier ice cream
Best: Full cream milk (high butterfat: 3-4 %).
Least: Skimmed milk (about 0.5% butterfat).
Option: goat’s milk (a slightly tangy taste)
Use condensed, evaporated, or powdered dry milk in moderate amounts
Like milk, these ingredients have lots of milk solids, so ice crystals stay small. But they’re also brimming with lactose (milk sugar), which makes them useful in another way. Lactose, like any sugar, lowers the freezing point of ice-cream mixtures: more of the mixture stays liquid at freezer temperature and the ice cream will be softer. But beware, if there are too many of these products, lactose crystals will form and you’ll end up with sandy-textured ice cream.
Techniques that affect texture
If you’re using milk or half-and-half in the recipe, you should heat it to 175°F, just below scalding. It leads to noticeably smoother ice cream. It isn’t necessary to heat heavy cream or whipping cream, neither of which has very much protein.
For ice cream making, sugar plays a significant role.
- a common ingredient as a sweetener
- increases the palatability
- improves the body and texture (keeping ice cream soft)
- helps lower the freezing point of water, reducing the amount of ice produced in the freezing process.
- affect the viscosity of the liquid syrup in which the fat droplets and air bubbles are suspended.
Controlling ice crystals with sugar
By changing the amounts and types of sugars used, you can affect the hardness of the ice cream, as softer ice cream contains less ice. The freezing point depression of a solution is associated with the number of dissolved molecules.
The lower the molecular weight, the greater the ability of a molecule to depress the freezing point because there will be more molecules present.
Thus monosaccharides such as fructose or glucose produce a much softer ice cream than disaccharides such as sucrose (table sugar). Most home cooks use only sucrose which results in harder ice cream in the freezer.
Sugar and alcohol make ice cream softer
Sugar makes ice cream softer because it lowers the freezing point of a liquid. For an ice cream that can be scooped right out of the freezer, you need just the right amount of sugar – too little sugar will end in the rock-hard ice cream.
If you find your ice cream recipe is brick-hard, try adding more sugar next time. Or try replacing some of the sugar with honey. Because honey consists of sugars with smaller molecules than those of table sugar, it’s more than twice as effective at lowering the freezing point as table sugar. Substitute 1 Tbs. of honey for 2-1/2 Tbs. of sugar in ice cream.
No-sugar-added varieties of ice cream have become popular and rely on the addition of fruit and milk’s natural sugars for their subtle sweetness. However, most low-carb substitutes like stevia or sugar alcohols don’t function like sugars in ice cream. They will certainly add sweetness, but if you don’t use other methods for keeping your ice cream soft with these ingredients, your ice cream will be rock hard. Xylitol will result in somewhat softer ice cream than erythritol, but it also contains more carbs.
Adding a liqueur or wine to an ice-cream mixture will make it softer because alcohol, like sugar, lowers the freezing point of a liquid. If you like the firmness of a particular recipe but want to add a liqueur for flavor, you might counter the addition of alcohol by cutting back on the sugar. The liqueur is preferable to wine because, at freezer temperature, a wine’s flavor would be muted.
Salt lowers the melting point of ice and is often used in the ice cream making process. When the melting point of ice is lowered, it draws heat out from the ice-cream mixture faster, causing it to freeze at a quicker rate. Freezing the mixture quickly produces smaller ice crystals and a softer final product. Salt also enhances both the perception of sweetness and the flavor of the ice cream. The salt-filled ice is packed around an inner ice-cream chamber that keeps the ice cream in and salt out.
The variety of flavors and additives in ice cream has kept its popularity.
Thousands of great flavors are available now. Even “vanilla” isn’t just “vanilla” – from “French” vanilla to “Madagascar”. Industrial flavorings are used in many recipes, and by law, they need to be clearly presented on the ice cream label.
You see “additives” – especially in the case of store-bought ice cream. Many ice cream manufacturers use things like starches and gums of different kinds to help with texture, with varying opinions on the safety of these ingredients.
However, you can use some more natural (and low-carb) things to help with the texture.
Mascarpone or cream cheese
Those can be added to your ice cream base to make for a creamier consistency. While mascarpone has a milder flavor than cream cheese, cream cheese can give a cheesecake-type flavor to your ice cream.
Because alcohol doesn’t freeze, adding a small amount of alcohol will improve the texture of your ice cream. Grain alcohol is your best bet because it has a higher percentage of alcohol than other types and is free from carbs. Vodka is easy to add to any type of ice cream because it adds no flavor, but certain flavors of other types of alcohol may be a desirable additive if they pair well with your other flavors.
Your add-ins won’t affect the softness of your ice cream, but there are something you need to remember:
- If you want to add fruit to your ice cream, it must be cooked. Otherwise, it will be icy and unpleasant. Cook it down to a jam-like consistency. Adding some sweetener will improve the texture a bit, but isn’t strictly necessary.
- Anything you plan to fold into the ice cream base once churned should be very cold. Place in the freezer for a few minutes before adding to the churned ice cream for best results.
- If you’d like to add a ripple of ganache or caramel, these will need to be warm, but only warm enough to be pourable. I like to layer them in to the container as I’m adding the ice cream. Then when the ice cream is scooped, bits of chocolate or caramel are swirled in.
How Ice Cream Is Made
Just putting the ice cream base into the freezer won’t create soft ice cream. When an ice-cream mixture is stirred in a machine, some of the liquid freezes into pure ice crystals while some of it remains liquid.
To make ice cream with a smooth, creamy texture, you must keep these developing ice crystals small and plentiful and incorporates air in the ice cream. If they grow too large, the resulting ice cream is coarse and icy.
Although you can make ice cream even without an ice cream machine, there are several tools to make ice cream:
- Ice cream machine
- Liquid nitrogen: “Dippin Dots” uses liquid nitrogen to freeze small droplets of cream.
- Dry ice: Crush the dry ice into very small pieces, then add it, one large spoonful at a time, to the ice cream mix as you churn it in the mixer.
- Ice: To make and pack up to 4 quarts of ice cream, you will need about 15 lbs of crushed ice and either 4 cups of table salt or 6 cups of rock salt.
Basic ice cream making
1. Chill everything before the churning process can commence
Everything has to be cold at all times throughout the entire process. The faster you freeze, churn and store your ice-cream, the smaller the ice crystals will be.
– the bowl of your electric ice cream maker for at least 24 hours before churning your ice cream.
– your storage containers (usually a plastic quart container or any other airtight container that the ice will hard freeze), lids, and solid mix-ins.
2. Get your churning station set up.
We usually place the ice in a cooler, and churn it outside on the patio.
3. Mix the ice cream ingredients together, and pour into a cold canister
4. Refrigerate the custard for 8 hours
The initial chill of your ice cream base is very important since it sets the tone for forming smooth ice crystals. Chilling before freezing improves body, texture, and flavor. Refrigerate the custard for 8 hours at a minimum, and up to a full 24-hours for the best texture.
5. Churn the ice cream
Place the chilled canister with the custard into the ice cream maker, and start churning.
Constantly churning ice cream (whether by hand or mechanically) ensures that large, stiff ice crystals don’t form within the mixture. The churning process also serves to introduce air and create a foam-like texture, further softening the mixture. However, there are no-churn options to make ice cream.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your ice cream maker and churn your custard for about 15 minutes. The custard will have thickened into a super soft serve-like consistency.
6. Store the ice cream
Once the ice-cream is out of the machine, transfer the ice cream into a chilled Tupperware container quickly with a lid. Then place it in the freezer so it doesn’t melt. Freeze it for 3 to 4 hours or overnight.
The consistency of homemade ice cream is usually best the day you make it. If serving it on a later date, just set it out in advance to soften some.
How to modify a recipe for homemade ice cream
|To get:||you need to:||so use these ingredients:||and these techniques:|
|smooth, creamy texture||Keep ice crystals small||Cream (fat coats ice crystals)Milk (milk solids obstruct ice crystals)Egg yolks (emulsifiers hold fats and liquid together)||Crank faster once thickening and freezing begins.Heat milk or half-and-half to 175°F|
|soft, scoopable consistency||Lower the freezing point of the custard mixture||Sugar or honeyCondensed or evaporated milk (high lactose)Liqueur or other spirits|
|full body||Trap air as the mixture feezes||Milk (proteins trap air into foam)Cream (fat holds air bubbles)||“Age” the mixture for 4 to 12 hours in the fridge|
How to make smoother Ice Cream
What are the main ingredients/factors that help keep ice cream smooth and creamy?
If you looked at ice cream under a microscope, you would see see ice crystals, fat droplets, and air pockets dispersed in liquid. This foamy mixture of liquid, solid, and air is crucial to ice cream’s flavor and consistency.
To help keep this foamy microscopic structure, ice cream contains chemical ingredients called “thickening agents.” These are designed to help foam stay foamy.
- Air makes ice cream softer and creamier
- Fat content provides smoothness
- Milk and Cream promote smoothness and lightness
- Egg yolks are more than just an emulsifier
Why does ice cream melt?
Essentially, ice cream melts because it absorbs the energy around it in the form of heat. This extra energy causes the atoms to vibrate, turning the solid into a liquid, and eventually into a gas (which is not actually possible on earth outside of lab conditions).
The exact melting point of ice cream depends on what’s added to the ice cream base. While milk has a stable melting point of 31 degrees F, extra ingredients like sugar, colorings, and cookie pieces alter how the atoms interact with each other, thereby changing how it melts.
Also remember that the type of container, amount of ice cream you’re dealing with, and air humidity also impact ice cream’s melting point and the idea of a normal way for ice cream to melt becomes irrelevant.
How to Store Ice Cream
Ice cream should be kept as cold as possible during its transport from the store to home.
1. Check the temperature of your freezer
Check the temperature of your freezer. Ice cream is best when stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
2. Use airtight storage containers
Store ice cream in a freezer-safe, airtight container.
3. Use a shallow, flat container
Shallow, flat containers help keep ice cream at an even consistency.
4. Cover ice cream with plastic wrap
Press a piece of plastic wrap firmly against the entire surface of the ice cream and then replace the lid to prevent ice crystals from forming.
5. Store ice cream in the back of the freezer
The process of melting and refreezing can create large ice crystals and reduce its smooth texture. Keep ice cream stored in the back of the freezer where the temperature is the coldest and most consistent to stay well below its freezing point.
6. Avoid storing ice cream in the freezer door
Items stored in the freezer door are subject to the most temperature fluctuation, which leads to the grainy ice cream.
7. Eat it as fast as possible
For the best flavor and texture, consume ice cream within a month of purchase.
Conclusion: Now you know ice cream isn't just a flavored ice cold cream solid. It's lots of science behind it. Maybe use the knowledge for your next ice cream making!
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