Several essential ingredients go into this delicious treat.
Milk fat gives ice cream its smoothness and creaminess: the higher the milk fat content the richer the ice cream. It is added as cream, butter or pure milk fat.
Non-fat milk solids, nutritional milk proteins and lactose (milk sugar), give body to ice cream and help develop its smoothness. Other milk solids include vitamins and essential minerals such as calcium. Too much non-fat milk solid causes a ‘sandy’ texture due to the formation of lactose crystals.
Cane sugar (sucrose) or glucose syrups are added to ice cream to give sweetness. Sugar enhances flavour. It also lowers the temperature at which ice cream freezes and melts to well below the freezing point of the water. This makes ice cream easier to eat as, once taken from the freezer, it melts quite quickly.
Flavourings add the fun to ice cream. Although vanilla is the most popular, chocolate, fruit, nut, toffee and liqueur flavours are also favourites.
Stabilisers and emulsifiers, approved by FSANZ, are referred to as the modifying agents in ice cream. And no, they’re not preservatives. Ice cream is preserved naturally by freezing. Stabilisers, such as gelatin and vegetable gums, increase the viscosity of ice cream by controlling the size of ice crystals. They give a uniform consistency and control the melting rate. They also change the growth and size of ice crystals to help give the ice cream a smooth texture.
Emulsifiers, such as lecithin from egg yolks or synthetic glyceryl monosaturates, improve the whipping qualities of the mix by ensuring that the milk fat remains evenly distributed.
The amount of air in the ice cream? That’s the ‘overrun’. The overrun helps achieve the desired texture of the ice cream. At most, it can cause the volume of the ice cream mix to double.
Colourings, often added to improve the appearance of the ice cream, are also regulated. They must not exceed the level prescribed by FSANZ.