Skip to navigation.
Ice Cream

Ice Cream

We all scream for ice cream in California! And that rings true as California has been the nation's #1 ice cream-producing state for 20 years. In fact, it was famed former California Governor Ronald Reagan who declared National Ice Cream Month in his presidential seat on July 10, 1984. The state has witnessed many modern-day ice cream firsts, including the world's first hot fudge sundaes in Hollywood in 1906 and the largest ice cream sundae ever--constructed in Anaheim in 1985.

A Definition

Ice cream is a sweet and creamy frozen dessert that is made from cream, milk, sweetener, flavoring and sometimes eggs. Commercial ice cream must contain at least 10 percent milkfat to be called ice cream. Some premium ice creams contain 16 percent milkfat.

The Facts

The origin of ice cream is uncertain, though Marco Polo brought a recipe for a frozen dessert home from the Orient. The first known written reference to ice cream in America is a description of strawberry ice cream enjoyed in Maryland in 1744. George Washington spent more than $200 on the cool treat during the summer of 1790. Thomas Jefferson has been credited with introducing “French-style” ice cream, made with eggs, to America.

California has paved the way for many ice cream firsts. In fact, hot fudge sundaes were first introduced to the world in Hollywood in 1906. The original Rocky Road ice cream flavor was named in Oakland in 1929 after the stock market crash to make people smile during rocky times. The biggest ice cream sundae ever was constructed in Anaheim in 1985, using 4,667 gallons of ice cream and it stood 12-feet tall. Former California Governor Ronald Reagan declared July as National Ice Cream Month in his presidential seat on July 10, 1984.

California is the nation’s largest ice cream producer. The most popular ice cream flavors in the nation are Vanilla, Chocolate, Neapolitan and Strawberry.

The Process

Ice cream is made by stirring, while freezing, a combination of milk or cream, sweetener and flavoring. Rapid freezing and mixing produces the unique creamy texture of ice cream.

Commercial ice cream mixes are pasteurized and homogenized before freezing and mixing and usually contain stabilizers and emulsifiers to improve texture and body. Rapid freezing helps keep ice crystals small, and agitation incorporates air into the mixture, increasing the volume of ice cream. Aeration of ice cream helps keep it soft enough to scoop, though too much can be undesirable.

Storage and Handling

  • Store ice cream in a sealed container in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator, which is typically set at 0˚F.
  • Some ice cream cartons are stamped with a “best used by” date, intended to tell how long the product will be at top eating quality.
  • To soften ice cream, transfer it to the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes before serving. A faster option is to use a microwave. Place the ice cream in its cardboard container into a microwave set to High: microwave one pint for 10-15 seconds; one quart for 15-25 seconds; and a half-gallon for 30-40 seconds. (Don’t use microwave if ice cream is in a plastic container.)
  • After serving ice cream, return carton to the freezer immediately to help prevent the formation of ice crystals that often occurs when ice cream is partially thawed and then re-frozen.

Nutrition

Innovative product developers have created a variety of frozen desserts with many flavors and caloric content.

Nutrient Content of Vanilla Frozen Desserts (per 1/2 cup serving)*
  Calories
(g)
Milkfat
(g)
Protein
(g)
Carbohydrates
(g)
Calcium
(mg)
Potassium
(mg)
Cholesterol
Ice Cream, rich
(16% fat)
266 17 4 24 125 168 98
Ice Cream
(11% fat)
145 8 3 17 92 143 32
Light Ice Cream
(5% fat)
125 4 4 20 122 158 21
Fat-Free
Ice Cream
105 0 3 23 113 230 0
Frozen Yogurt,
Soft-serve (6% fat)
117 4 3 17 103 152 1

* U.S. Department of Agriculture Research Service, 2005. USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 17. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page, http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp

Glossary of Terms

Ice Cream contains mainly cream, milk, sugar and flavoring. This type of ice cream is sometimes called Philadelphia ice cream because starting in the early 1800s, Philadelphia was well known for its American- style (eggless) ice cream.

Custard-Style Ice Cream, also known as French-style ice cream or frozen custard, contains mainly cream, sweetener, flavoring and eggs or egg yolks.

Light Ice Cream (reducedfat, low-fat and fat-free) is similar to ice cream, but contains progressively less than the 10 percent milkfat of regular ice cream.

Soft-Serve ice cream is a reduced-fat preparation whose softness comes from being dispensed at relatively high temperatures (20-22˚F).

Gelato, an Italian-style custard ice cream, is smoother and denser than American ice cream because less air is whipped into it during processing. Gelato can range from 2 percent to 8 percent milkfat, depending on the manufacturer.

Frozen Yogurt is a frozen dessert with a tart flavor produced from lactic acidproducing bacterial cultures. Regular frozen yogurt contains at least 3.5 percent fat, but frozen yogurts containing higher and lower fat contents are available.

Sherbet is a frozen mixture that can contain sweetened fruit juice, milk, water and flavorings such as chocolate, fruit and spices. Sherbet is lighter in texture and sweeter than ice cream.

ICE CREAM MONTH FUN FACTS

Cool in California

California is the #1 producer of ice cream. In 2006, the state produced 133 million gallons of ice cream.

It was former California Governor Ronald Reagan who, as president, declared July as National Ice Cream Month in 1984.

It takes about 12 pounds of whole milk to make one gallon of ice cream. California produces more milk than any other state - 38.8 billion pounds in 2006, or 21 percent of the nation's milk supply.

After the stock market crash, Rocky Road ice cream was created in Oakland in 1929 - the tongue-in-cheek name was intended to make people smile during "rocky" times. Rocky Road became America's first blockbuster flavor and remains one of the best-selling flavors of all time.

The biggest ice cream sundae ever was constructed in Anaheim in 1985, using 4,667 gallons of ice cream. It stood 12 feet tall.

Did You Know?

The origin of ice cream is uncertain, though Marco Polo brought a recipe for a frozen dessert home from the Orient. The first known written reference to ice cream in America is a description of strawberry ice cream enjoyed in Maryland in 1744. George Washington spent more than $200 on the cool treat during the summer of 1790. Thomas Jefferson has been credited with introducing "French-style" ice cream, made with eggs, to America.

The first ice cream parlor in America opened in New York City in 1776.

Immigrants at Ellis Island were served vanilla ice cream as part of their "Welcome to America" meal.

The most popular ice cream flavors in the nation are Vanilla, Chocolate, Neapolitan and Strawberry.

Sources

International Dairy Foods Association, Dairy Facts: 2005 Edition

Mariani, John. The Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink. New York: Lebhar-Friedman Books, 1999

National Dairy Council