When I first heard that July is National Ice Cream month, I was immediately transported back to two very powerful and happy memories at the same time. If that’s even possible.
The first memory transported me back to my childhood, hot summer days and my excitement every time I knew I’d have the chance to eat my favorite ice cream, creamy and rich burgundy cherry. Finding those whole cherries within the smooth and decadent cream base. Hmm. Still brings a smile to my face even now.
The second memory was of the wonderful years I worked for a local gourmet ice cream manufacturer, where not only did I have unlimited access to divine ice creams and real fruit sorbets or ices, but I got the inside scoop (sorry, I had to say that) on some of the little-known facts about the whats, whys and hows of creating gourmet frozen desserts.
The History of Ice Cream
Ice Cream has a lengthy and interesting history, it’s origins dating back as far as the 2nd century B.C. Although there are no specific dates of origin or no one particular inventor, we do know that Alexander the Great enjoyed snow flavored with honey and nectar. There are reportedly Biblical references that mention King Solomon’s fondness of iced drinks during the harvest season.
During the Roman Empire, Caesar (AD 54-86) would send runners into the mountains to gather snow which was then flavored with fruits and juices. Over 1000 years later, Marco Polo returned to Italy from the far east with a recipe that is close to what we now call sherbet. This recipe, according to historians, became ice cream as we know it today, sometime in the 16th century.
The evolution of ice cream is fascinating and has definitely captured our imaginations, as ice cream and frozen desserts are consumed by more than 90% of U.S. households. Ice Cream is enjoyed both summer and winter. This kind of popularity has led to ice cream being dubbed by many aficionados as the all-time favourite dessert. Just the mention of ice cream brings a smile to most people’s faces and more often than not, has some strong positive memory associated with it too.Ice cream is so popular that it has been dubbed as the all-time favourite dessert.Click To Tweet
Favourite Ice Cream Flavours
Other than my childhood obsession with burgundy cherry, I also confess that I have had a lifetime fascination with all the creamy and rich vanilla varieties I’ve been able to sample. Those made with real vanilla beans, where you can see the flecks in the product. Nothing beats that for me! Seems I’m not alone, as vanilla still ranks as the favourite flavor in 2015, beating chocolate by a strong 2 to 1 according to the International Dairy Federation of America. (IDFA) Among the rest of the top five are strawberry, cookies ‘n cream, and mint chocolate chip. Surprised?
Not All Ice Creams Are Created Equal
When I worked in the industry I learned that not all ice creams are created equal. If you wonder why premium brands cost more, it’s because you actually do get more for your money. Pick up a pint or ½ litre of a gourmet or premium brand and compare it to a quart or litre of a more economical brand. You may find that they feel like they weigh the same thing.
The reason is that frozen desserts are sold by volume not weight. The denser consistency of an all natural premium brand stems from the fact that little or no air (overrun) is pumped into these products. The light, lower priced products may have up to 100%, sometimes even 200% overrun. All frozen desserts do need some air or they would be hard as a rock, but premium brands stay well under 50%. The lower the overrun, the creamier, smoother and richer the ice cream tastes! Less air means fewer ice crystals and fewer ice crystals mean you get that melt-in-your-mouth creaminess that makes ice cream so irresistible to the palate.
Healthy Ice Cream Choices
With so many current health and dietary concerns, it’s wonderful that many companies are making healthy and delicious alternatives to traditional ice cream products. The company I worked for made the most heavenly all natural real fruit sorbets, which consisted of primarily real fruit, plus a small amount of sugar and stabilizer. I found it interesting to learn that the sugar was more for creating consistency than it was for sweetening.
There is now a wide range of products made with soy, rice and coconut milk as the base and many use healthy sweeteners like stevia, agave or no sweetener at all. I was fascinated by the variety of new frozen dessert products now available to the discerning consumer. I even found a product that uses cashew cream as their product base. Can’t wait to get back to Arizona where this company distributes. If you do a little bit of research, you’ll find the perfect product for you.
Sherbet or Sorbet?
When I was younger I also used to eat sherbet, generally, rainbow sherbet, as I wasn’t always as conscious of my health and the ingredients I consumed, as I am now. One of the biggest misunderstandings relating to sherbet is the belief that they are dairy free. Not so. Sherbet can have a milk fat content of 1-2%, so if you have a dairy sensitivity, beware.
It’s amazing the range of possibilities for creating unusual flavors and combinations. Our company made everything from garlic ice cream to beet borscht and even carrot sorbet. I’ve read that basically anything is possible and found such unique flavors as dill pickle, jalapeno, and avocado reported by those in the ice cream know.
These varieties may not be widely available, but with the popularity of frozen desserts, it is becoming easier to find new flavors and combinations on the retail shelf. Even seasonal flavors like honey pumpkin ice cream or blood orange sorbet were within the repertoire of the company I worked with. We even made Ice Wine Sorbet supplied directly from the winery!
Fun Ice Cream Facts
Here are some fun facts I uncovered in my research. It takes 50 licks to finish one single scoop of ice cream. Hopefully, that’s enough licks to savor the flavor. Sunday is the day of the week that most ice cream is sold. In fact, in 2016, Sunday, July 17th is National Ice Cream day.
If you wonder who eats the most ice cream, it’s kids aged 2-12 and adults over 45. Australia and the U.S. are tied at number one for ice cream consumption. Canada is also in the top ten, sitting at 7th or 8th place. Interesting.Did you know it takes 50 licks to finish a single scoop of #icecream? #NationalIceCreamMonth Click To Tweet
Tips for Optimizing Your Ice Cream Experience
A couple of tips I learned, might help make your frozen dessert experience even yummier. It’s not wise to refreeze any frozen dessert product, especially ice cream, as ice crystals form and make the product less palatable. Also, be wary of eating ice cream that has been melted and refrozen—milk and warm temperatures are breeding ground for bacteria.
Another invaluable tip, if you have the patience to wait, is to take your frozen dessert out of the freezer and put it in the fridge for 15 minutes before you try to scoop it. This helps temper the product throughout and makes it much easier to serve. A scoop or spoon dipped in warm water also helps a lot. Between -5 and 0 degrees F is the best temperature for storing ice cream! And, between 6 and 10 degrees F is the best temperature for serving it!
July is National Ice Cream Month
Knowing July is National Ice Cream month, how can we resist. Summer is a great time to enjoy life and indulge ourselves a little. Maybe even be daring and try something new. I’d love to hear about any unusual flavors or combinations you’ve been able to find and taste, or even make yourself! I’d also love to hear about new products you’ve found that are perfect for those with health and dietary concerns.
Enjoying Life and Staying Healthy
When it comes to our health and enjoyment of life, it’s important to indulge ourselves occasionally so we don’t feel deprived. Summer and Ice Cream seem to be the perfect time for those indulgences! If you find that your cravings are controlling you, there is a way to kick your food cravings and balance your blood sugar with USANA’s MySmartFoods. Message me to find out more.
For more info and to schedule a Complimentary Health Consultation, please reach out and connect with me. If you’re curious to see how healthy you are, the True Health Assessment takes only 10 minutes and offers a three-part report, on hereditary factors, lifestyle and nutritional suggestions to support your health.
I’ll leave you with a fun quote from Peanuts creator, Charles M. Schulz. “Life is like an ice cream cone, you have to lick it one day at a time.” What’s your favourite flavor?