Ice Cream in Scotland

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Achamore

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Ok, since there is some interest in our efforts in making ice cream, I thought I'd share some of the things my wife and I have learnt in the past 8 months.

All of this centres around our plans to create a small but commercial scale of production, using the milk from Emma's farm. She milks roughly 60 cows, and at the moment the farm gate milk price is appalling, less than half the cost of production, so we faced having to abandon dairy farming, or else add value to the milk. For the past 8 months we've been making small batches, since the end of March we've been using a terrific small batch freezer from Italy.


This machine takes between 1.5 litres and 2.5 litres at a time, and turns your mix into ice cream in about 7 minutes. It produces a smooth, very finely textured ice cream. Usually at this point we are making batches of mix that use 5 litres of milk. Here's our recipe for Vanilla ice cream:

5 litres of whole fresh milk, straight from the farm
750 ml Double Cream (currently straight from the supermarket..)
8 fresh egg yolks
100 ml vegetable glycerine
110 grams butter

Blend the above liquid mix thoroughly with an electric hand blender. The egg yolks are the emulsifier, so it is vital that the blending is thorough at the first stage, i.e., prior to it being pasteurised. Oh, and before you ask, the vegetable glycerine is there to improve the scoop-ability of the ice cream. With Chocolate ice cream you have to up the veg glycerine somewhat, as the cocoa butter turns rock hard when frozen. Tricks of the trade!

Then mix together:

800 gram sugar
19 grams of an equal mix of three gum powders.

The 3 gum powders are Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum, and Xanthum Gum. So there is just over 6 grams of each of the 3 different gum powders. It is essential to blend the sugar and the gum powders fully before adding them to the liquid mix, as otherwise the gum powders will glom together (technical term that) and form little ugly lumps.

Add the sugar / gums mix to the liquid mix, and then once more blend thoroughly with the hand blender for a couple of minutes. The gums will thicken the mix, and at this point the hand blender will be working pretty hard. Our 800 watt blender heats up after about 5 minutes of such use, so we have 2 on hand and alternate, if we are doing 2 of the 5 litre batches at once, which is what we are normally doing.

Then heat the resulting mix to at least 75˚ C though we normally heat to 80˚ C, but all the while be sure to keep whisking the mix vigorously, to avoid burning in the bottom of the pot. (We have an Aga, which is perfect for this purpose. We have 2 big 18 litre stainless steel pots with good thick bottoms, which are almost as wide as the heating plates of the Aga. We move the pots between the hotter plate and the cooler hot plate, to avoid one pot getting too hot.)

Once the mix is up to 75˚ C then place the pot in a sink full of cold water, and whisk the mix every few minutes to assist the cooling process. Given that the mix is a perfect breeding ground for all manner of bacteria when it is between 10˚ C and 60˚ C this cooling process needs to be relatively fast. We normally get the temperature of the mix below 50˚ C within 30 minutes.

Once it is below 50˚C we then add 45 ml of top quality Vanilla Extract to the mix, and then blend it once more.

We then run the mix in 3 batches through the batch freezer. It emerges at about -6˚C and so it is important to then get the tubs into the freezer as swiftly as possible, to avoid large ice crystals forming. Our freezers are at -18˚C but also we have one at -25˚C if we need to store any ice cream for a longer period.

About the Gum Powders. I would have liked to have avoided their use, even though they are largely natural ingredients and from what I have read pretty darned harmless. But the professional advice I was given said that you must have these. I chose initially to ignore that advice, this being my proclivity. But we then made 2 small batches back in March, identical to each other except for the gums which were put into just one batch. We then left them in the coldest freezer for a month. When we then compared the two, it was astonishing: the batch made without the gums had turned icy, while the one with the gums had remained essentially the way it had been on the day it was produced, lovely and creamy and smooth.

The gum powders act as stabilisers, and prevent the water and fat molecules from migrating apart during their time in the freezer. If you make ice cream that is intended to be eaten within a few days, then none of these gums are needed. But if like us you want to produce ice cream that will be sold through shops in the region, then the gums are necessary.

Regarding egg yolks. Most big commercial ice cream companies these days do not use egg yolk, as they can achieve the emulsification more easily by adding "Mono & Di-glycerides". Apart from sounding yukky to my mind, these are sometimes derived from animal fats, and so a (lacto-ovo) vegetarian would want to avoid an ice cream made with Mono & Di-glycerides (E471). I'm just kind of old fashioned I suppose, and prefer the idea of egg yolks helping out in the mix, compared with these substances with the ugly names..!
 

Achamore

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And that's just Vanilla..!

Yes, it is complex, and far more to it than meets the eye. For example, that batch freezer is pretty costly, and while you can get cheaper machines the main difference will be the speed at which the mix is turned into ice cream. The faster the better, as this gives the smallest ice crystals, which means the texture is better. Machines that cost half as much and take 20 minutes to do the job turn out an inferior ice cream, at least as far as texture / smoothness is concerned.

Want to hear about making Strawberry? That's one of the toughest.
 

Ozpaph

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Strawberry..................then chocolate..........................then my favourite - chocolate-peanut butter......................yum!
 

abax

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The whole process sounds very labor intensive and costly.
Personally, I won't eat ice cream that contains guar and
stick to Ben and Jerry's Fro Yo Cherry Garcia. How they
get around the whole guar issue is unknown to me. Perhaps frozen yogurt doesn't need the guar. I do know
that right out of the freezer it's hard as a brick and I set
it out on the kitchen counter for a few minutes before
attempting those chocolate chips. How much do you have charge customers in order to make any kind of profit?

By the way, who is that handsome young man in the
photo????
 

Achamore

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Why do you need to add gums?

Hi Dot, as I said in the original Post...

About the Gum Powders. I would have liked to have avoided their use, even though they are largely natural ingredients and from what I have read pretty darned harmless. But the professional advice I was given said that you must have these. I chose initially to ignore that advice, this being my proclivity. But we then made 2 small batches back in March, identical to each other except for the gums which were put into just one batch. We then left them in the coldest freezer for a month. When we then compared the two, it was astonishing: the batch made without the gums had turned icy, while the one with the gums had remained essentially the way it had been on the day it was produced, lovely and creamy and smooth.

The gum powders act as stabilisers, and prevent the water and fat molecules from migrating apart during their time in the freezer. If you make ice cream that is intended to be eaten within a few days, then none of these gums are needed. But if like us you want to produce ice cream that will be sold through shops in the region, then the gums are necessary.
 

Achamore

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Hi Angela, the young fellow in the photo is my son Mark, who will be 4 this October.

Maybe in the USA they use a different set of ingredients, but over here in Europe Ben & Jerry's make no effort to avoid Guar Gum. Have a look at the ingredients of their Caramel Chew Chew.



I'm not sure why you wish to avoid Guar Gum. From what I have read on the topic, it is pretty inoffensive. The only issues arise when it is added in DRY powder form to capsules, which strikes me as a bad idea altogether. But it is simply the ground up seeds of "a drought-resistant plant of the pea family, which is grown as a vegetable and fodder crop and as a source of guar gum, native to dry regions of Africa and Asia." (That came top when Googling the matter.) Allergies to it appear to be very rare.

What is surprising to me is that Ben & Jerry use Carrageenan, which is also a widely-used stabiliser. Carrageenan triggers unfortunate responses in many people, from what I have read, which is why we don't use it. Its derived from seaweed, so shouldn't be all that bad in theory, but of the 4 widely used stabilisers that's the one with the biggest allergy triggers.
 

Achamore

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Gelato is of course very similar to ice cream, being the Italian word for it. But gelato is intended to be eaten within 72 hours of it being made (frozen), and if it isn't eaten in that time then it gets melted and frozen again. If you ever had gelato in Italy, it would have been made in that way. They don't do this thing of having it sit in shops for weeks and months on end waiting to be sold. So the formulations / recipes are different, suiting the different ways it is sold and consumed.

For us there simply isn't the remotest of possibilities to make gelato and have it work as a commercial concern. There just aren't enough visitors to our wee island, by a country mile. We have to be able to freeze our ice cream in tubs, and sell that to shops and distributors, who will themselves keep it frozen until it is bought by the retail customer, most of whom we will never see. This is our only viable option given our remote location.
 

abax

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The reason I can't eat guar is I saw the raw form on some
tv show or other and it looks like something that runs
out of one's nose. I just checked and the B&J Cherry Garcia Fro Yo has no gum and claims to have no GMO products. The label is completely different concerning
contents.

P.S. I've had gelato in Italy and it's not nearly so good as ice
cream or Fro Yo to me.
 

Achamore

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Hi Angela, there's a lot of things that could become disqualified on that basis..! Try looking at the plant itself, and that could help you get over your aversion.

Just to clarify, GMO has absolutely nothing to do with Guar Gum..! But if you want something to get upset about, read about the herbicide that now gets sprayed onto sugar cane just before the harvest. They spray glyphosate which is the main active ingredient of Roundup, as it acts as a desiccant, and thereby gives a substantially greater yield of sugar from the cane. This is very very common practice now, so the only sugar that doesn't have this in the USA will be sugar certified as organic.

Here in the UK we are able to easily buy sugar made from beet root, which doesn't have glyphosate sprayed onto it at harvest time. And that's what we use for our ice cream. Try writing to Ben & Jerry and ask them about the sugar they use... Of course, they are owned by Unilever. Guar gum? I'd take it any day.
 

Achamore

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Strawberry..................then chocolate..........................then my favourite - chocolate-peanut butter......................yum!

The first two you mention I can comment on, as we make these. According to various people I have spoken to in the ice cream industry, it is pretty much accepted that these two are the very hardest ones to make, the most challenging of the common flavours. (I just read that someone in Scotland has made Haggis ice cream. No doubt that's a big challenge, but not a common flavour..!)

More a bit later, supper beckons.
 

abax

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Here's a better one for you Don. Haagan-Dazs doesn't bother to
list any ingredients at all on the container. How's that
for arrogance? I prefer your ice cream from fresh milk
any day...I'd also pet the cows. I like cows.

Have you seen the video of a pasture full of cows and the violinist
who played for them? Within a couple of minutes every cow in the
pasture came to the fence and listened very quietly. The vid
is really quite touching.
 

Achamore

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Hi Angela, not sure what they do on their tubs in the US, but I'd be very surprised if they don't show the ingredients, as that would be against regulation. However, their Vanilla ice cream is the most impressive one in the mass-market, to my mind. They only use 5 ingredients, as you can see in this photo I just took of a wee tub of theirs I have in the freezer. My only concern is that this is not an ice cream that does well in the freezer over several months. It tends to contract a bit and go utterly rock-hard. But its great that they stick to their principles.

 

NYEric

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I can only eat lactose free ice cream and I'm sure I am therefore consuming mass quantities of un-natural chemicals. :( Thanks for sharing your endevours.
 

SlipperFan

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I'm glad you showed the HaagenDaz. I went to the grocery store today, and checked out several flavors. None had any gums. I understand that it is made with a higher percentage of cream, not as much milk, and they don't pump air into it -- which is why it is so hard. And HaagenDaz does list their ingredients on every carton -- it is required by law.

Reminds me of the time my Father-in-law made ice cream for a local dairy. He talked about a day they forgot to add the air, and the carton of ice cream became much heavier than usual. A good thing, right? More ice cream, less air. But a woman returned it saying it wasn't right, and still wouldn't keep it after explaining to her about the air -- because it just wasn't right.

I'll take HaagenDaz over any brand with gums and all the other artificial stuff they include these days. Sorry, Achamore.
 

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