Much ado about ice cream!

Much ado about ice cream!
Ice cream | Photo: Shutterstock Images

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice-cream!

Be it any season, ice cream is an all-time favourite amongst children and adults alike throughout the world. Summers are incomplete without it, and winters are dull without the abundant supply of it.

Every country more or less has its version of ice cream; like the Gelato in Italy, Kulfi in India and Mochi in Japan. But do you know where ice cream originates from?

History and origin of Ice cream
The origin of ice cream is not precisely known, but throughout the history of the world, one can find instances and sources describing ice cream-like food. Here goes:

According to oldest sources, ice cream originated in Persia as early as 550 BC.

Some other sources say that it originated in ancient Greece - we have sources that talk about Alexander the Great’s love for having crushed ice and snow that was flavoured with honey and nectar!

During the reign of the Roman emperor, Nero Claudius Caesar (A.D. 54-86), people enjoyed snow that was flavoured with fruits and juices, thus leading to the belief that this perhaps led to the origin of sorbets.

Some historians also believe that sorbets may have originated in the Mongol Empire and then spread to China. Marco Polo introduced a recipe in Italy that resembles this sorbet style dessert after he returned from China.

Historians say that it was this recipe that later evolved to what we now know as ice cream. This evolution happened in the 16th Century by the Italians.

It is also believed that the first creamy texture that was introduced to flavoured ice happened around 400 BC, again in Persia, where vermicelli was combined with frozen rose water, saffron and fruits to make a luxurious dessert for the royal family.

On the other hand, some historians say that the Chinese introduced the creamy texture of ice cream in 200 A.D. by mixing frozen milk and rice pudding.

Kulfi in India, made of milk, sugar, saffron and rosewater, was invented in the 16th century under the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar. The word ‘Kulfi’ is a Persian word meaning ‘covered up’!

Gelato | Photo: Shutterstock Images

Ice cream was introduced to the general public in the 1700s at Café Procope, the first café in Paris. This café was also famous for introducing the world to Gelato - the Italian version of sorbet. Francesco Procopio, who owned the café, is in fact known as the ‘Father of Italian Gelato’.

The evolution of ice cream
Ice cream was initially hand-made in large mixing bowls and required a lot of time and labour. With the invention of the hand-cranked freezer, the production of Ice cream became a lot easier. The first commercial production of ice cream began in 1851, and the modern ice cream freezer was introduced in 1926.

The process of manufacturing ice cream has continued to evolve since then. Today’s modern ice cream falls under two categories: Ice cream and frozen desserts, especially in India!

So, what is the difference between ice cream and frozen dessert, you ask? Well, we wouldn’t have known or cared about it until a few years back, when the two FMCG giants Amul and Hindustan Unilever, made the difference clear to us with their ad wars with each other.

Ice cream is made purely from milk fats while a ‘frozen dessert’ or frozen confectionery is made from vegetable oil fats. The product is obtained by freezing a pasteurized mix prepared with milk fat and/or edible vegetable oils and fat. Both forms are delicious and safe to consume.

Different types of ice creams and frozen desserts
Ice cream
1. Regular ice cream: This is the traditional form of ice cream all over the world. It is made with milk fat, sweeteners, cream, sugar, eggs and stabilizers infused with different toppings and flavours.

2. French ice cream: Ice cream made with a custard base that contains milk, eggs and cream.

3. Reduced fat ice cream: Uses low-fat dairy ingredients, especially consumed by weight watchers.

4. Light ice cream: Low-fat ice cream with only one different ingredient than the regular recipe; it uses 25% less milk fat.

Organic vanilla ice cream with mint | Photo: Shutterstock Images

5. Soft ice cream: Made from similar ingredients as regular ice cream, but one step in the production is different; the freezing process happens at a higher temperature in a machine that keeps the mixture smooth, creamy, and soft.

6. No sugar added ice cream: Made by using only artificial sweeteners or natural sugar substitutes.

7. Lactose-free ice cream: Ice creams that do not have lactose are perfect for people who cannot digest this enzyme.

8. Gluten-free ice cream: Same as with lactose, several brands are now manufacturing ice creams that can be consumed by people who have problems digesting gluten.

9. Organic ice cream: Produced solely from natural ingredients.

10. Vegan ice cream: Ice creams that are made with coconut milk, almond milk or soy milk.

11. Keto ice cream: Keto ice cream contains dairy but replaces a lot of it with water and carb-free milk protein concentrate or with ultra-filtered milk.

Frozen desserts

1. Frozen custard: Contains at least 10% milk fat and 1.5% egg yolk.

2. Dondurma: Traditional Turkish ice cream made from cream, whipped cream, sugar, salep flour and mastic resin which makes the ice cream ‘stretchy’ and ‘chewy’

3. Gelato: A frozen dessert of Italian origin made with a base of 3.25% butterfat, whole milk, and sugar. It is generally lower in fat than other styles of frozen desserts. Gelato typically contains 70% less air and more flavouring than other frozen desserts, giving it a density and richness that distinguishes it from other ice creams.

4. Sherbet: Ice cream variation which uses only 1-2% milk fat and is very sweet.

5. Sorbets: A frozen dessert made from sugar-sweetened water with flavourings like fruit juice, fruit purée, wine, liqueur or honey. In general, sorbets do not contain dairy ingredients.

6. Snow cones: Frozen balls of flavoured ice that is crushed and shaped, much like the Indian ice candy popularly known as ‘chuski’ or ‘gola’.

Snow cones | Photo: Shutterstock Images

7. Frozen soufflé: A cold dessert whose base (usually frozen custard) is enhanced with whipped cream. It is frozen and decorated with various toppings.

8. Frozen yogurt: A dessert made of low fat or non-fat yoghurt, sweeteners, gelatin, corn syrup, flavourings, and colourings.

So now that you are somewhat of an expert on this topic, try sampling some of these variations available in the market or ice cream parlours near you and let us know your favourites.

We would love to hear from you!

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