Although meaning of the phrase Ice Cream can somewhat vary from the country to country, and from ancient history to today, it is accepted that modern ice cream in its core is a frozen dessert that is made from daily products, sugar or other sweeteners, flavorings, additives, toppings, and of course, air! The exact way how cooks combined these ingredients changed from century to century, following the rise of medieval civilizations, renaissance, industrial revolution, expansion of worldwide commerce and finally modern times. Before the invention of milk based ice creams in 11th century A.D., ice cream was created by combining pure of sweetened ice with variety of toppings and fruits. This made it very expensive and hard to produce in summertime months.
Today modern ice cream is produced from:
Dairy products – There is no strict guideline which daily product must be used to be a basis of modern ice cream recipe. Guidelines set by various countries regulate presence of butterfat (minimum is set to at least 10%) Recipes can use anything from nonfat dry milk to powdered milk.
Milk proteins – As one of the key ingredients, milk proteins ensure production of small fat, air bubbles and creaminess. Presence of this ingredient can produce varying amounts of energy in our metabolism, varying from 2 to 12% of the total ice cream product (average amount is around 8%). Milk proteins also contribute to ice cream’s flavor.
Sugar – This ingredient is off course responsible for giving ice cream its sweet taste, but that is not its only purpose. Sugar is represents natural regulator who controls how much ice can form inside water crystals of ice cream during the freezing process [this enables ice cream not to become too hard and cumbersome to scoop), and it also provide heat protection that is very useful when ice cream is put in and out of the freezer repeatedly. In average ice cream sugars or sugar substitutes represents 16-to 23% of its mass, and up to 50% of its energy content.
Fat – This ingredient gives ice cream its structure, delivers flavor, stabilizes air bubbles, and boosts the creaminess. In ordinary ice cream recipe, dairy or vegetable fat can take between 0 and 12 percent of its mass, and because of that it can give between 0 and 45% of its total energy.
Stabilizers – Stabilizers and emulsifiers (additives) are a part of many ice cream recipes, because of their unique features. They can improve texture, prevent meltdown, improve structural properties, and more.
Flavorings – Industrial flavorings are used in many recipes, and by law they need to be clearly presented on the ice creams label.
Air and Ice
Both of these ingredients are very important (some would say most important) to the feel of ice cream. By the smaller the ice bubbles and ice crystals, the creamier the ice cream will be.