How Ice Cream Is Made

The hand crank ice cream maker or freezer was invented in 1846 by Nancy Johnson. In 1848 a similar freezer, the Johnson Patent Ice-Cream Freezer was patented. By 1850 ice cream had become a popular treat. It wasn’t until 1851 that Jacob Fussell’s Baltimore Company began to manufacture and market ice cream commercially.

At some point in time someone figured out that by using salt mixed with the ice would lower the temperature of the ingredients and therefore the wooden freezer bucket and paddles would open the way for the larger-scale manufacture of this treat using bigger machines. Today, it is still made using the basic method of the hand-crank ice cream freezer. With nearly two billion gallons of this and other frozen desserts produced in the United States yearly, there is a need for regulation. This need is met by the International Dairy Foods Association. The IDFA works to regulate the manufacturing and distribution of the frozen dessert. The organization was founded in 1900 and does market research and regulatory and legislative advocacy.

Along with regulations in producing and marketing the product, manufacturers are doing their best in a competitive market to make ice cream healthier. Unfortunately, there is a lot of butterfat and calories in the standard recipe which, in excess, will cause problems like obesity and other weight-related illnesses.

The fat is needed, however, to make the texture smooth. Fat is also what makes it taste good. You might consider it the “yummy factor”. Low-fat ice cream does not hold the flavor the way the regular product does. Regular ice cream is 10 to 20 percent butterfat and 60 to 62 percent water. To qualify as true ice cream there has to be at least 10 percent fat in the ingredients. With less than 10 percent butterfat, there is a greater percentage of water which makes it more like tasteless ice.

Sugar is another ingredient that helps keep the creamy mixture smooth and soft by lowering its freezing temperature. Without sugar, or other forms of sweetener, the ice cream would freeze rock solid. Sugar also makes it taste better. Sweeteners can be regular cane sugar, honey, corn sweeteners or beet sugar. Plant derivatives are stabilizers that also help keep this dairy treat smooth and keep it from developing ice crystals. Mono-triglycerides and lecithin are emulsifiers that are used to aid in keeping the smooth whipped texture during and after freezing.

When the ingredients have been mixed in a tank, it is then pasteurized. The pasteurization process involves heating the mixture to a required temperature. Homogenization occurs next where the milk fat is broken down so that the mixture will be creamy and smooth. It is then quickly cooled to 40 degrees F and then frozen. The prepared product is frozen one batch at a time using the continuous freezer method that has evolved from the method used in the first ice-cream freezers from the 1800’s.

The paddles used in those early freezers may have been precursors to the dasher blades that are used today to keep the creamy treat from being solidified. These dashers aerate the mixture so that it will not weigh more the 4.5 pounds per gallon as required under federal regulations.

After the ice cream leaves the freezer, any chunky ingredients like candy or fruit are added to the mixture before it is packaged. The last step is sending our delicious treat to sub-zero temperatures in the hardening room where it is stored until it is shipped and finally ends up in your freezer.

 

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