When ice cream is so sinfully delicious and so many of us are watching our calories, it’s easy to ignore what exactly goes into this creative concoction. Understanding how the treat is made can give the eater just a little more respect for the recipe they’re so busy enjoying. Ice cream lovers of the world might be surprised to hear that the process of making ice cream is pretty similar, whether making one scoop or 10,000 pints a day.
A Little Mixing
Ice cream may have taken many centuries to perfect, but there’s nothing complicated at all about its ingredients and operation. It doesn’t take more than a little cream and some sugar to get started. Ice cream mix typically contains some combination of milk, cream, and sugar, but other ice cream makers will add eggs to their recipes to keep it from melting so quickly.
Typically, the mix is pasteurized prior to becoming ice cream. Extreme heat will destroy any harmful bacteria in the milk and eggs, while the freezing process will only preserve it. The reason why some ice creams taste so much better than others usually has to do with the quality of the ingredients. If manufacturers are taking too many shortcuts and adding too many chemicals to preserve their mass-produced ice cream, the product will taste more artificial (and certainly not as good).
Adding a Little Extra
Here’s where things get a little complicated in the process: ice cream makers have to add flavors to the mix. Considering just how many options there are, this is why people may think that ice cream making is more than it is. But really, this is just the art of blending in extras like vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry syrup into the mix. In a factory, this whole process occurs in a big container with surrounding pipes that feed into a large tube. These pipes contain chemicals that don’t actually touch the ice cream but do keep the tube cold enough to cool the mixture.
Whipped to Perfection
While the ice cream is going through the production tube, there’s a blade that’s turning all the while. This gives the ice cream the air it needs to start turning from liquid to a more crystallized solid. If a family is going to their corner mom-and-pop store, a batch freezer usually handles this part. There’s still a blade in these much smaller machines, but batch freezers give ice cream makers be more flexible regarding how they make each batch. This means more more varieties of ice cream, including unusual flavors that buyers undoubtedly wouldn’t have tasted before.
Once this is all complete, the ice crystals are scraped away, and any larger chunky pieces are added into the soft mix. Factory-made ice cream is usually cooled to below 0° F because it will need to stay frozen after it’s been added to the trucks. Home-made ice cream can be made as soft-serve or frozen even further for a more scoopable treat.