Have you ever wondered how your favorite frozen dairy treat is made? Forget baseball, ice cream is America’s pastime. But making it is not quite as easy and fun as sampling it is. Ice cream is somewhat laborious, especially when it manufacturing it in larger quantities, such as in is done when it’s made in factories.
At its core, ice cream is a combination of cream/milk, sugar and sometimes eggs, that’s frozen while at the same time being churned. This creates the smooth, frozen consistency that is desirable. However, in commercial ice cream production, another element is added. Stabilizer, such as plant gums, are typically inserted and the mixture is both pasteurized and homogenized (at least in America, as pasteurization is a guideline ice-cream makers must follow, according to the FDA).
Pasteurization and homogenization are not simple processes. First, basic ingredients are agitated and blended in a tank specific for mixing. The mixture is pumped into a pasteurizer machine, which will heat the substance and the substance will be held at a predetermined temperature. The hot mixture then gets pushed through a homogenizer machine where pressure is added. On average, the pressure entails around 2000 pounds per square inch. This breaks down the milkfat, making it into smaller particles, allowing the substance to obtain its classic creamy texture. Next, the mixture is cooled to about 40 degrees fahrenheit and the continuous freezer method will ensure it is frozen. The continuous freezer method, also called the batch freezer method, uses a regular flow of mix that will freeze a certain amount of ice cream one batch at a time.
During the freezing process, air is added to the mixture via “dashers,” which are revolving blades in the freezer. To prevent ice cream from becoming one hard mass, the small air cells are introduced and their whipping action keeps the ice cream smooth, creamy and not completely solid. An ice cream term relevant to this point of the process is called “overrun,” which is the amount of aeration. It is limited by a federal rule that requires the completely finished substance weight less than 4.5 pounds per gallon.
At this point, other flavorings can be added to the mixture- this could be vanilla to fruit to candy to chocolate- the options are really never-ending. The toppings can be shot or dropped into the ice cream that is semi-solid at this step.
Finally, after the flavorings have been added, the now-ready ice cream can be packed up in a smorgasbord of molds, cups or containers. Then, the ice cream will be moved to a “hardening room,” the last step in the process, in which sub-zero temperatures get the product solid and frozen, ready for its final state- distribution and storage.