Utah is known for its beautiful mountains and the fact that we consume mountains of ice cream. Any day is a good day for ice cream in Utah!
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed July as National Ice Cream Month and established National Ice Cream Day as the third Sunday in the month of July. America produces the most ice cream in the world—just one more reason to be proud to be an American!
Reagan recognized the importance of the ice cream industry in generating billions of dollars to the economy and providing thousands of jobs. United States dairy farmers are a big part of the ice cream industry and contribute substantially to the nation’s economic well-being. Over her entire lifetime, one dairy cow can produce enough milk for 9,000 gallons of ice cream! Think about that the next time you’re licking an ice cream cone.
How is ice cream made?
Ice cream is made by taking cream (and milk) adding sugar, flavorings, (and sometimes egg yolk), chilling, churning and then freezing the mixture. Here’s what it takes to create the frozen magic.
The first step is to mix milk, cream and sugar heating it until the sugar dissolves. The mixture is then cooled. For a richer-tasting custard-based ice cream the hot cream-sugar mixture is whisked into egg yolks and then returned to the heat to thicken the egg proteins and kill any bacteria.
The second step is freezing. The ice cream mixture goes into a canister with a mixing paddle. A tried and true hint is to make sure your ice cream mixture is cold before adding it to the ice cream maker. Chill the canister in the freezer to get it nice and cold before you add the ice cream mixture. Use finely chopped ice or small ice cubes (they’ll transfer temperature faster than large cubes) mixed thoroughly with coarse salt. Salt lowers the freezing point of ice and creates an extra-cold brine that absorbs heat from the milk mixture, causing the mixture to freeze.
Ice cream’s creaminess depends on the size of the ice crystals that form during freezing – the smaller the crystals, the creamier the texture. Rapid chilling and constant churning encourage the water in the ice cream mixture to form lots of tiny crystals. Ice cream containing lots of tiny ice crystals feels smoother and creamier than ice cream that is equally thick but with fewer, larger crystals. Constant churning helps keep the crystals moving as they chill, so they have less time to attach to one another and form clusters that would prevent it from having a creamy texture.
When ice cream melts and refreezes, its smaller ice crystals melt and then refreeze into larger ice crystals, which increases the overall crystal size in the mix. Evaporation can also cause large ice crystals to form. Think about that half-eaten container of ice cream in your freezer, moisture can evaporate from the ice cream and recrystallize on the inside of the container, where the ice crystals grow larger and larger. Let ice cream soften gradually at room temperature until it’s easy to scoop. Never microwave your ice cream to soften it for scooping. It will develop a grainy texture when put back in the freezer.
Interesting Facts about Ice Cream
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was part of the team that first invented the method of making soft serve ice cream.
The world’s first soft-serve ice cream machine was in an Olympia, Washington Dairy Queen.
Ice cream cones were popularized in America during the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, when an ice cream vendor ran out of cups and asked a nearby waffle vendor to roll up his waffles to hold the ice cream.
The world’s first batch of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream was made by Ben & Jerry’s, inspired by an anonymous note left on their flavor suggestion board.
Ice Cream’s Role in History
Ice cream has played a role in American history. Ice cream was a morale booster during World War II. Each branch of the military tried to out-do the others in serving ice cream to its troops. When the war ended, and the dairy product rationing was lifted, America celebrated its victory with ice cream! Immigrants at Ellis Island were served ice cream as part of the welcoming to America.
Best Ice Cream Shops in Utah
If you build it, Utah ice cream lovers will come! Here are a few of our favorite local ice cream shops.
Famous Aggie Ice Cream is a crowd pleaser with best loved flavors of Aggie Blue Mint, True Aggie Night, and Aggie Bull Tracks. Available at USU Campus locations and select locations in Cache County.