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~The Difference between Frozen-Custard & IceCream~

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3992021200bThe Summer holidays are just around the corner.  Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day -- they are indeed our country's Summertime patriotic big-three, but, all are also associated with laid-back atmospheres full of fun activities shared family, friends and, of course, food.  Whether it be an outdoor picnic in the grass under a shade tree at the park, or on a blanket on a sandy beach, or eating from grill-to-table around the backyard pool or on the patio, or, simply story-telling in the night-air gathered around the campfire, nothing screams Summer like a scoop or two of home-churned ice-cream or custard heaped into a crispy cone or atop a slice of pie.

During June, July and August and into September, we will all most likely eat more ice cream than we did during the past nine months.  In my kitchen, during the next few months, I'll be making more than I did during the past nine too.  Whatever flavor I've got churning, vanilla, chocolate or strawberry, everyone I know (myself included) will generically refer to it as ice cream.  That said, what I'll technically be making is frozen custard, and, if you make homemade ice cream, I'm betting you're most likely making old-fashioned frozen custard (or a version of it), too.

The difference between ice cream & frozen custard:

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3992047200bStore-bought ice cream is made from milk or skim milk, or a combination of milk or skim milk with a bit of cream added, corn syrup or sugar, and flavorings.  Egg yolks are sometimes added, but are not required.  Ice cream is made in a machine that pumps lots of air into it while it churns, which yields a light mouthfeel.  It is federally defined as:  a frozen dessert containing 10% milk fat. That said, the old-fashioned simplicity of making home-churned ice cream has been so convoluted by high-tech machinery (to insure its consistent, signature, hand-scoop-able texture), not to mention the additives, preservatives and stabilizers (for a long and palatable shelf life in the freezer), one couldn't reproduce it adequately in the home kitchen, even if one was inclined to try.

6a0120a8551282970b022ad39931a4200bFrozen custard is made from whole milk, or a combination of milk and cream, egg yolks, sugar and flavorings.  Egg-yolks are a requirement, and regulations require 1.4% egg yolks by weight.  The higher fat content (from milk and/or cream) gives it a rich, luxurious taste.  Whether made in a hand-crank or commercial machine, frozen custard is churned at a slow pace, to incorporate little air, giving it its dense texture.  Because it melts almost on contact with the lips (similar to soft serve ice cream), it is best served immediately, directly from the machine it was made in.

Frozen-custard and ice-cream  recipes are not created equal.  Sometimes the consistency is too soft, sometimes its too dense, or worse, sometimes it's full of nasty ice crystals.  Some recipes are cloyingly sweet, and other times, there's simply not enough flavoring added.  Frozen custard and ice-cream are both emulsions with two components (fat and water) that need lots of encouragement to meld, by adding components that absorb water (sugar, starch and protein).

A bit of rich & creamy frozen-custard history:

Frozen custard was invented on Coney Island, NY, in 1919.  Two ice-cream venders, Archie and Elton Kohr, discovered that when they added egg yolks to their home-made ice-cream base, they produced a richer, creamier, smoother ice cream.  On the first weekend they sold 18,460 cones. They had invented the precursor to our present-day soft-serve ice cream, with one exception: little air was pumped into their product.  As described above, true frozen custard is quite dense.  The mixture enters a refrigerated tube, and, as it freezes, blades scrape the frozen product from the sides of the barrel walls.  Unlike hand-scooped ice cream, the mixture stays in the machine, being discharged directly into cones or cups, on an as-needed basis, to be served immediately.

Try my Old-Fashioned Vanilla-Custard Ice-Cream Base:

6a0120a8551282970b022ad3794919200dAnd my Old-Fashioned Chocolate-Custard Ice-Cream Base:

6a0120a8551282970b022ad39a9394200bOr, my Old-Fashioned Very Strawberry-Custard Ice-Cream Base:

6a0120a8551282970b022ad37bb114200d"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)


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