Happy Ice Cream Month

July 05, 2016

July is national ice cream month, here are some fun facts and more reason to indulge this month. What's your favorite ice cream flavor?

Our nation's first ice cream parlor reportedly opened in New York City in 1776 - and about two hundred years later, President Ronald Reagan officially designated the month of July National Ice Cream Month. So let’s celebrate!

But first, a little history. Who gets the credit for inventing ice cream? History isn't perfectly clear so we have to credit many: Julius Caesar and the Emperor Nero of Rome both took credit for the idea to mix snow with nectar, fruit pulp, and honey. Another tale credits Marco Polo, who is said to have brought with him from the Far East the recipes for water ices. In the US our history is a bit better - Our third First Lady, Dolly Madison served ice cream as a dessert in the White House, at the second inaugural ball in 1812.

Before you scoop, read those labels! Ice cream packages can be as confusing as any in the supermarket, so be sure you know what you are buying. The FDA sets the standards for ice cream, and here are some of the terms on those ice cream cartons - and exactly what those terms mean:

Ice cream is a frozen food made from a mixture of dairy products, containing at least 10% milk fat.

Gelato is an Italian frozen food made from a mixture of dairy products, typically made with fresh fruit or other ingredients and in the manufacturing process are super-cooled while stirring to break up ice crystals as they form. Like super premium ice creams, gelato generally has less than 35% air - resulting in a dense and extremely flavorful product.

"Reduced fat" ice cream contains at least 25% less total fat than the referenced product (either an average of leading brands, or the company's own brand.)

"Light" ice cream contains at least 50% less total fat or 33% fewer calories than the referenced product (the average of leading regional or national brands.)

"Lowfat" ice cream contains a maximum of 3 grams of total fat per serving (1/2 cup).

"Nonfat" ice cream contains less than 0.5 grams of total fat per serving.

"Overrun" refers to the amount of aeration the ice cream undergoes during its manufacture that keeps the mix from becoming a frozen mass. Overrun is governed by federal standards in that the finished product must not weigh less than 4.5 pounds per gallon. 

"Superpremium" ice cream tends to have very low overrun and high fat content, and the manufacturer uses the best quality ingredients.

"Premium" ice cream tends to have low overrun and higher fat content than regular ice cream, and the manufacturer uses higher quality ingredients. It is the largest category in terms of sales with over 50% of the volume.

And to make sure your ice cream is the best tasting it can be, be sure your freezer temperature is set between -5°F and 0°F. Always store ice cream in the main part of the freezer. Never store ice cream in the freezer door, where ice cream can be subject to more fluctuating temperatures since the door is repeatedly opened and shut.

Never allow ice cream to soften and re-freeze. As ice cream's small ice crystals melt and re-freeze, they can eventually turn into large, unpalatable lumps. Keep the ice cream container lid tightly closed when storing in the freezer and don't store ice cream alongside uncovered foods; odors can penetrate ice cream and affect its flavor.