What’s Ice Cream, and Why Do We Scream for It?

Jun 19, 2020

If the rising summer temperatures have you craving a scoop or two of ice cream, you are in luck: July happens to be National Ice Cream Month. Did you know the average American eats about 48 pints of ice cream per year?” With this kind of love for ice cream and an ever-growing array of options and innovations, observing National Ice Cream Month only gets easier year after year.

Although the basic formula for ice cream has stayed relatively constant with its main components of milk and sugar, food scientists are continually tinkering with ingredients and methods to achieve creamier textures and delicious flavors that everyone can enjoy.

So how, exactly, is ice cream made? Milk proteins combine with the fat in found in milk cream to form a stable mixture. Air bubbles are incorporated into the mixture during the early stages of freezing, creating a light and airy consistency. This air ultimately makes up 20-50% of the final product’s volume. It also prevents an overly sweet flavor while adding structure to the ice cream. The better this structure, the more time it takes for the flavor of the ice cream to be released, making the flavor last even longer.

During the freezing process, ice crystals form when the water present in ice cream mix begins to freeze. Ice cream’s creaminess depends on the size of the ice crystals that develop during freezing. The smaller the crystals, the creamier the texture. Rapid chilling and constant churning cause the water to form many tiny crystals. Ice cream with numerous tiny ice crystals feels smoother and creamier than ice cream that is equally thick but has fewer, larger crystals.

Luckily, there are 31 days in July Ice Cream Month, which is plenty of time to enjoy the tried and true flavors, as well as try something new. Whether you prefer ice cream made the old-fashioned way or prepared with innovative methods, celebrating this delicious frozen treat is something everyone can agree on.


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