Store bought ice cream can be disappointing, no doubt about it. Even homemade ice cream disappoints sometimes, but that’s because you either nail a recipe or fail at it, which is something that can be improved with practice. But you can’t improve store bought ice cream yourself. That job is up to someone else to do.
There is one thing, however, that you can always do, and that is to improve your choices. To choose only the best brands.
But what exactly makes an ice cream brand the best?
Let’s first start with what is ice cream
A lot about ice cream has changed with the development of ice cream factories. There are some factories that raise this popular treat to art level, and then there are other factories that skimp on quality considerably, creating what many people refer to as nothing more than a synthesized version of ice cream, or unauthentic ice cream.
Real ice cream is made with real ingredients. Real ice cream is made with cream and/or milk, eggs, and sugar. People in China in the first century AD made a kind of ice cream with buffalo milk, flour, and camphor, the latter an ingredient used in cooking in both Asia and later in medieval Europe, often to flavor foods.
And a long time after that ice cream was made using only a handful of ingredients.
Until ice cream factories, most of the commercial ice cream was produced relatively healthy, meaning blending those primary ingredients to develop a basic frozen product.
Small farmers in America in the twentieth century were producing ice cream as an added means to make a living. They too used machinery, but they kept to creating a basic form of ice cream which included fresh milk and cream.
The issue with ice cream today isn’t only what is included in the product, but also what is left out.
Popular is not the same as best
So many people make ice cream choices thinking that a popular brand is at the same time one of the best. But just because a brand was smart enough to create good marketing, it doesn’t make it best at what it does, which is to make ice cream. Good at promoting it? Yes, but is it making good ice cream? That’s debatable. Just because it tastes good, it isn’t necessarily good at all.
Many ice cream brands, both store brands, and big brands substitute the primary ingredients in the product with ingredients such as:
- Vegetable oils instead of cream: these are derived from coconuts, palm tree, corn and rape seed;
- Partially reconstituted skimmed milk or whey solids instead of real milk;
- Plus they add fillers that include coloring agents, artificial flavorings, emulsifiers, stabilizers and thin air.
Thin air isn’t an ingredient per se. It’s a process by which manufacturers seek to gain more volume in the product, so they whip air into it and make it go further. Then they freeze the product and off to the supermarket it goes.
What then makes an ice cream brand the best? Sometimes it comes down to good ingredients alone.