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Learn More About Milk & Ice Cream

Learn More About Milk  |  Learn More About Ice Cream

Ice Cream Facts

The most important ingredient in ice cream comes from milk. Federal regulations require that ice cream must have at least 10 percent milkfat, the single most critical ingredient. The use of varying percentages of milkfat affects the palatability, smoothness, color, texture, and food value of the finished product. Gourmet or superpremium ice creams contain at least 12 percent milkfat, usually more.

Ice cream contains nonfat solids - the non-fat, protein part of the milk - which contribute nutritional value in the form of protein, calcium, minerals, and vitamins. Nonfat dry milk, skim milk, and whole milk are the usual sources of nonfat solids.

Sweeteners used in ice cream varies from cane or beet sugar to corn sweeteners or honey. Stabilizers, such as plant derivatives, are normally used in small amounts to prevent the formation of large ice crystals and to make a smoother ice cream. Emulsifiers, such as lecithin and mono- and diglycerides, are also used in small amounts. They create uniform whipping qualities to the ice cream during freezing, as well as a smoother and drier body and texture in the frozen form.

These basic ingredients are agitated and blended in a mixing tank. The mixture is then pumped into a pasteurizer, where it's heated and held at a predetermined temperature. The hot mixture is then "shot" though a homogenizer, where pressure of 2,000 to 2,500 pounds per square inch breaks the milkfat down into smaller particles, allowing the mixture to stay smooth and creamy. The mix is then quick-cooled to about 40 degrees F and frozen via the "continuous freezer" method that uses a steady flow of mix that freezes a set quantity of ice cream one batch at a time.

During freezing, the mix is aerated by "dashers," revolving blades in the freezer. The small air cells that are incorporated by this whipping action prevent ice cream from becoming a solid mass of frozen ingredients. The amount of aeration is called "overrun," and is limited by the federal standard that requires the finished product must not weigh less than 4.5 pounds per gallon.

The next step is the addition of bulky flavorings, such as fruits, nuts and chocolate chips. The ingredients are either "dropped" or "shot" into the semi-solid ice cream after it leaves the freezer.

After the flavorings are added, the ice cream is packaged, then quickly moved to a "hardening room" where sub-zero temperatures freeze the product into its final state for storage and distribution.

Ice Cream History

2nd Century BC The origins of ice cream date back to the second century BC, but no specific date of origin or inventor has been indisputably credited with its discovery.
4th Century BC It is known that Alexander the Great enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar.
10th Century BC References in the Bible indicate that King Solomon consumed iced drinks during harvesting.
62 AD The Roman Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar sent slaves to the mountains of the Apennines to get snow and ice that were then flavored with nectar, fruit pulp and honey.
12th Century Water ices were reputedly eaten throughout Asia for thousands of years, and iced dairy products have been cited in ancient Chinese literature.
13th Century When Italian explorer Marco Polo returned home from the Far East, he brought a recipe that closely resembled what is now called sherbet. Historians estimate that this recipe evolved into ice cream sometime in the 16th century.
1533 Italian Catherine de Medici married Henry II of France and brought her recipes for Italian sherbet. It is said that their son, Henry III, enjoyed the cool treat and ate them daily.
Mid-1600s A combination of ice and salt was used to depress the freezing point, and became common practice in the production of frozen ices.
1660 A Sicillian named Procopio opened Paris' first caf, the Caf Procope, and introduced the general public to his recipe that blended milk, cream, butter and eggs.
17th Century "Cream ice" was frequently found at the table of Charles I of England.
18th Century Ice cream was popularized throughout Europe.
1700 The first official account of ice cream in America was served by Maryland Governor Bladen to his guests.
May 12, 1777 The first ice cream advertisement in America appeared in the New York Gazette, placed by confectioner Philip Lenzi.
1790 President George Washington introduced ice cream to the office of the President, and spent approximately $200 on the cold treat during the summer.
Early 1800s President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) was reported to have a favorite 18-step recipe for an ice cream delicacy that was similar to a modern-day Baked Alaska.
1812 First Lady Dolly Madison served a magnificent strawberry ice cream creation at President James Madison's second inaugural banquet at the White House.
1843 Until 1800, ice cream remained a rare and exotic dessert enjoyed mostly by the elite. In this year, Nancy Johnson patented the first hand cranked freezer.
1851 Jacob Fussell established the first commercial ice cream plant in Baltimore, Maryland.
1899 August Gaulin of Paris invented the homogenizer, which is used to help develop the smooth texture of ice cream.
1926 Clarence Vogt of Louisville, Kentucky perfected the first continuous freezer.
1941 - 1945 During World War II, ice cream became an edible morale symbol with each military branch trying to outdo the others in serving ice cream to its troops.
1945 The first "floating ice cream parlor" was built for sailors in the western Pacific. When the war ended, the dairy product rationing was lifted, and Americans celebrated victory with ice cream.
1946 Americans consumed more than 20 quarts of ice cream per person.

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