Jan 20, 2009

Air In Ice Cream

Of all the ingredients that go into ice cream, air is arguably the most important. Air in ice cream - sounds crazy? Not at all. You just need to stop and think about it and you will realise why.

When I was a child (and it's not that long ago really!), ice cream was only available in one of two ways - from our weekly ice cream man in his ice cream truck or at the local grocery store where they was usually a freezer with a few rectangular cardboard boxed blocks of vanilla or raspberry ripple ice cream.

Then, suddenly, it all changed .... and soft serve ice cream was born - principally the result of adding more air into the manufacturing process. Amongst the pioneers in this field was no less than the now Baroness Margaret Thatcher. She was part of a research term in the UK who worked for a British ice cream manufacturer and whose job it was to improve the manufacturing process and make it more profitable. This they did by adding more air into it. Read more about on my Ice Cream & Political Passion blog post.

You might think that manufacturers might be tempted to put more and more air into their ice cream to make even bigger profits of course - but you would be wrong. First of all, most countries have legislation governing the maximum percentage of air allowed in ice cream - usually accepted as 50%. Secondly, the texture and taste would be so poor that people simply would not buy it. Without a doubt, the best quality ice cream in my opinion has the least air in it at about 20%. When you make your own homemade ice cream you can experiment with how much air you put into it - whether you do the mixing by hand or just control the churning time in your ice cream maker. Try and see. You'll be amazed how the volume of air makes a difference!

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