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Ice Cream in the Old Days
Ice cream as we know it today is a relatively recent invention. The first beginnings of this kind of foodstuff are lost in history, but the Roman emperor Nero probably feasted on an ancestor of ice cream—snow mixed with honey and fruits—around 62 A.D. History tells us that water ices (frozen punches) were made in Italy in the fifteenth century. From water ices, recipes that contained milk or cream were eventually developed. In the seventeenth century, a French ice cream maker in the employ of King Charles I of England was paid to keep his recipe a royal secret. In 1769 The Experienced English Housekeeper printed the first known recipe for "cream ice." French and English cookbooks published in the early 1770's contained recipes for "cream ices" and "butter ices."
The first record of ice cream in America dates from 1700 when Governor Bladen of Maryland served it to some of his guests attending a dinner party. Philip Lenzi, a confectioner from London, made ice cream and advertised it for sale in New York City beginning in 1774. Ice cream remained an expensive delicacy, available only in confectioneries and cafés, for many years. Recipes were still a carefully guarded secret.
In 1848 the first U.S. patent was granted for a revolving hand-crank freezer with a dasher, one of the first to be made commercially in the United States.
It was not until 1851 that ice cream became available on the wholesale market. Jacob Fussell of Baltimore added ice cream to his line of wholesale dairy products, built the first ice cream manufacturing plant in Baltimore, and later expanded his business to Washington, D.C., New York and Boston.
Ice cream did not become really well known until the twentieth century, when mechanical refrigeration and changing economic conditions made it available to a wider market. The industry has made great strides in the last eighty-odd years. In 1904 the ice cream cone was introduced at the St. Louis World Fair. It wasn't until as recently as the 1940's that carry-home ice cream from grocery and candy stores gained in popularity, and soft ice cream appeared in drive-in sales outlets.
Today the amount of ice cream made at home is minuscule compared with the amount commercially produced. This book is dedicated to that fraction produced at home. May it melt slowly.CHAPTER 2
Ingredients: What They Do
The old saying, "You get out only what you put in," holds true for ice cream. The better the ingredients, the better the ice cream. Making good homemade ice cream is not inexpensive, but using inferior ingredients only leads to disappointment and wasted effort.
Milk and Milk Products
Milk and its products are the basic ingredients of ice cream. All recipes in this book utilize milk in various forms and quantities.
Milk, as it comes from the cow, with all the natural milk fats left in, is called whole milk. Whole milk purchased at the grocery store contains not less than 3.25% milk fat.
Milk fat or butterfat, as it is sometimes called, is the most important component of ice cream. Ice cream gets its rich, creamy flavor from milk fats. Fat also contributes to producing a smooth texture and a greater resistance to melting.
A milk-fat content between 14% and 22% is ideal for producing a rich-tasting, full-bodied ice cream. Ice cream made with less than 14% milk fat is weak-bodied, coarse and icy.
With a milk-fat content much greater than 22% the ice cream is too buttery tasting and doesn't expand during the freezing process, thus reducing the yield.
Two percent milk, as its name implies, contains 2% milk fats. If two percent milk is used to make ice cream, more cream must be added to raise the total milk-fat content to desirable levels.
Skim milk contains no milk fats, making it necessary to use large quantities of cream to provide the amount of milk fat needed for good ice cream.
Half-and-half is half whole milk and half cream. Although the milk-fat content of half-and-half varies, it is around 12% to 20%, making it ideal for use in ice cream. Half-and-half is usually less expensive than whole milk and heavy cream bought separately. Half-and-half may be used in place of equal parts of heavy cream and whole milk in any recipe in this book.
Heavy cream, or whipping cream as it is usually called, contains 30-40% milk fats. Ice cream made using heavy cream as its milk source has a buttery taste. It is best to mix cream and some other form of milk to reduce the fat content.
Coffee cream, sometimes called light cream, varies in milk-fat content from 18% to 30%. Using a mixture of one-third whole milk and two-thirds coffee cream makes a rich-tasting, full-bodied ice cream.
Evaporated milk is whole milk with approximately 60% of the water taken out. Usually vitamin D is added. Evaporated milk has the same food value as whole milk, but more than twice the milk-fat content (8%). Because of its processing, it has a noticeable cooked flavor and caramelized color that is undesirable in most ice creams.
Sweetened condensed milk is made by removing about half of the water from whole milk and adding sugar. This product contains 40-45% sugar and has a milk-fat content of not less than 8.5%.
Many ice cream recipes found in older cookbooks require heating the milk to near boiling. This was done to pasteurize the milk, thus killing bacteria and improving the keeping quality of milk products. All milk purchased in stores nowadays has already been pasteurized, so it is no longer necessary to heat milk to such high temperatures and risk burning or scorching. The ice cream mixture does need to be heated to moderate temperatures, 110-160°, to cook the eggs, blend flavors and produce a more uniform product. A thermometer is useful for bringing the mixture to the right temperature.
Sugar and Sweeteners
How sweet it is depends on how much sugar or other sweetener is used. Good ice cream should contain 14-16% sugar. Depending on personal tastes, the sugar content can range from 12% to 29%.
The sugar content affects the smoothness and creamy flavor of ice cream. Too much sugar, and it becomes soggy and sticky, and more salt and ice are required to freeze it. Too little sugar, and ice cream tastes flat and can freeze very hard with little increase in volume. Flavor is also affected by the sugar content. A high sugar content overpowers the flavors of some fruits and other delicate flavors.
Eggs give ice cream a rich-looking appearance and improve its flavor. The addition of eggs turns an average ice cream into a high-quality frozen dessert. Egg yolks improve the whipping ability of the ice cream mixture and produce a firmer-bodied product. They also contribute to a smooth texture and add a delicate flavor to ice cream. When cooked, eggs thicken the ice cream mixture and blend flavors.
NOTE: If eggs are not part of a given recipe, the mixture should be aged at least 24 hours in the refrigerator before freezing.
Rennet is a thickening agent made from the enzyme rennin, found in the stomach lining of young cattle. Usually manufactured in tablet form, rennet is dissolved in water and added to the ice cream mixture 10 minutes before freezing. The mixture should be stirred only slightly after the rennet is added, because continued agitation will not allow the mixture to coagulate properly.
Ice cream with rennet added will be slightly firmer and have a smoother texture. Rennet is especially helpful if the milk-fat content of the ice cream is low, or if eggs are not used in the recipe. Rennet tablets can be found in the gelatin sections of most food stores.
The quality of the flavorings used in ice cream is very important. Only top-quality flavoring extracts can produce high-quality ice cream. Low-quality extracts can produce poortasting, off-flavored ice cream. Never attempt to cut costs by using inferior flavorings.
The most popular flavoring substances used in ice cream are vanilla, chocolate and cocoa, fruits, nuts and sugars. Coffee, liqueurs, spices and artificial flavorings are also used.
While tastes vary, most people prefer ice cream with a mild, delicate flavor, which is best produced with natural flavorings. Because of the composition of most natural flavorings, no unpleasant tastes develop even at high concentrations. Imitation flavorings, unless carefully used in small quantities, often impart an overpowering, objectionable taste.
Vanilla is the most popular flavor for ice cream. Well over half of all ice creams contain vanilla flavoring. It comes from the pods of several species of orchids of the genus Vanilla. The Aztecs are said to have used vanilla beans to add to the flavor of chocolate. Vanilla beans are picked and then fermented to develop the flavor.
Vanilla for flavoring is available as a bean pod, vanilla extract, vanilla powder or imitation flavoring.
Although relatively expensive, real vanilla beans make excellent vanilla ice cream. Split the bean pod lengthwise and cook with the milk and cream until just below the boiling point. Let the mixture cool and the vanilla flavor diffuse for at least 30 minutes. Strain the mixture to remove the bean residue. One inch of vanilla bean gives approximately the same flavor strength as one teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Vanilla beans can also be dried and ground into a very fine powder. Ice cream made with vanilla powder will contain small black specks of ground beans. Use one teaspoon of vanilla powder to substitute for one to two teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Vanilla extract is made by dissolving finely cut vanilla beans in an alcohol solution. Imitation vanilla flavoring contains no vanilla beans at all, but is made from synthetic vanillin. Imitation vanilla flavoring has a slightly different flavor from that which occurs naturally in vanilla beans. Vanilla extract and imitation vanilla flavoring are of equivalent strength. Measure imitation vanilla flavoring carefully, because if too much is used, an unpleasant taste will develop.
Chocolate (or cocoa), the second most popular flavoring for ice cream, comes from the tree Theobroma cacao. There are 20 to 60 beans to the fruit pod. When the pods turn a golden red in color they are ripe and are cut from the tree. The beans are removed from the pods and heated and fermented until the familiar cinnamon-red color develops. The beans are then washed, dried, roasted and crushed.
In order to incorporate the full flavor of chocolate into the ice cream mixture, the cocoa (or chocolate) should be combined with sugar and added to the milk or cream before heating. The heat incorporates the cocoa more evenly and produces a fuller-bodied flavor.
Fruit is a very popular ice cream flavoring, especially when in season. Fresh fruits should be diced or coarsely puréed before using. Large pieces of fruit will get caught in the dasher blades and not be distributed evenly. Sweeten fresh fruits with sugar and refrigerate at least 12 hours to give the flavors time to blend.
Nuts are used in many ice creams for added flavor. Almost any kind of nut can be used successfully. Nuts must be carefully chopped before they are added to the mixture; large pieces can damage the dasher and sides of the freezing can. Make sure the nuts used are free of hulls and not rancid.
The recipes in this book were carefully researched and tested to develop the best-tasting ice cream possible. To retain this tested flavor, use the exact ingredients called for if at all possible. Substituting ingredients is not recommended because unpredictable changes may occur in the ice cream. If, in an emergency, a substitution must be made, the following stand-in ingredients will usually produce an acceptable ice cream.
If You're Out of ...
1 square unsweetened baking chocolate 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon butter or
1 cup whole milk ½ cup evaporated milk plus ½ cup
1 cup reconstituted nonfat dry milk plus 1
tablespoon butter or margarine
1 whole egg 2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar ¾ cup honey (plus about one tablespoon
gelatin per quart of liquid as
1 tablespoon cornstarch 2 tablespoons flour
1" vanilla bean 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
The Freezing Process
The ice cream mixture freezes through the action of the rock salt and ice packed around it. When ice and salt are mixed, the moist surface of the ice dissolves the salt. This in turn lowers the melting point of the ice. The whole process rapidly reduces the temperature of the ice and water, and the ice cream mixture. The ice cream freezes.
It takes approximately 16 pounds of ice to freeze and pack one gallon of ice cream. Crushed or chipped ice is best. The coarser the ice, the longer the freezing time and the more rock salt needed.
Ice cubes do not present enough surface area to the freezing can, and the air spaces between them slow down the freezing process. Besides, most electric freezers will stall frequently if ice cubes are used; they get caught between the sides of the bucket and the freezing can, causing the motor to stop. If cube ice is all that is available, you can crush it by placing it in a heavy cloth bag and pounding it with the side of a hammer.
If you have a food freezer, or even the freezing compartment of a refrigerator, you can make your own ice. Miniature ice-cube trays make ice of a good size for freezing ice cream (regular-sized cubes must be broken into smaller pieces). Sixteen to twenty trays of ice will freeze one gallon of ice cream. Milk cartons can be washed, filled with water and frozen. When the ice is frozen, use an ice pick to break up the blocks, then crush them with a hammer.
Rock salt is preferable to table salt for freezing homemade ice cream. Table salt tends to form icy crusts that keep the ice from moving down in the freezer bucket. Rock salt is also less expensive than table salt.
2½–3 cups of rock salt will freeze a gallon of ice cream. Additional rock salt is needed to pack the ice cream after freezing. If you find yourself out of rock salt, table salt can be used. You will need to push the ice down in the bucket frequently to break up any ice bridges that may have formed.
Decrease the amount of salt if you are using table salt. The finer-grained table salt dissolves faster than rock salt and lowers the temperature of the ice cream mixture faster. Lowering the temperature too fast causes a coarse-textured, icy ice cream.
The best ice cream freezer, whether a hand-crank or electric model, has a sturdy, well-insulated bucket. Poorly insulated buckets require more ice, salt and time to freeze ice cream. A well-insulated bucket helps to produce a firm, high-quality ice cream. Wooden buckets have good insulating qualities and are noncorrosive. Fiberglass buckets are durable and won't rust, but give up some insulating qualities. Plastic and metal buckets are poor insulators and may be subject to damage. Many buckets sold today have an outer wooden shell with a fiberglass or plastic liner. This combination of materials seems to produce a good, serviceable bucket.
The inner bucket, or freezing can, should be constructed of galvanized or stainless steel to prevent rusting. The freezing can takes a lot of punishment, both inside and out. It must be made of heavy-gauge material to withstand gouging from ice and denting by fruits and nuts that can get wedged between the dasher and the sides of the can.
Excerpted from Old-Fashioned Homemade Ice Cream by Thomas R. Quinn. Copyright © 1984 Thomas R. Quinn. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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Posted March 31, 2013
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