The hand crank ice cream maker or freezer was invented in 1846 by Nancy Johnson. In 1848 a similar ice cream freezer, the Johnson Patent Ice-Cream Freezer was patented. By 1850 ice cream had become a popular treat. It wasn’t until 1851 that Jacob Fussell’s Baltimore Company began to manufacture and market ice cream commercially.
At some point in time someone figured out that using salt mixed with the ice would lower the temperature of the ingredients and that the wooden freezer bucket and paddles would open the way for the larger-scale manufacture of ice cream. Today, ice cream is still made using the basic method of the hand-crank ice cream freezer.
With nearly two billion gallons of ice cream and other frozen desserts produced in the United States yearly, there is a need for regulation. This need is met by the International Ice Cream Association. The IICA works to regulate the manufacturing and distribution of ice cream. The organization was founded in 1900 and does market research and regulatory and legislative advocacy.
Along with regulations in producing and marketing ice cream, manufacturers are doing their best to make ice cream healthier. Unfortunately, there is a lot of butterfat and calories in ice cream which, in excess, will cause problems with obesity and other weight-related illnesses.
The fat in ice cream is needed to make the texture smooth. Fat is also what makes the ice cream taste good. Low-fat ice cream does not hold the flavor the way regular ice cream does. Regular ice cream is 10 to 20 percent butterfat and 60 to 62 percent water. To qualify as true ice cream there has to be at least 10 percent fat in the ingredients. With less than 10 percent butterfat, there is more percentage of water which makes the ice cream more like tasteless ice.
Sugar is another ingredient in ice cream that helps keep the creamy mixture smooth and soft by lowering its freezing temperature. Without sugar, or other forms of sweetener, the ice cream would freeze rock solid. Sugar also makes the ice cream taste better. Sweeteners can be regular cane sugar, honey, corn sweeteners or beet sugar. Plant derivatives are stabilizers that also help keep the ice cream smooth and keep it from developing ice crystals. Mono-triglycerides and lecithin are emulsifiers that are used to aid in keeping the smooth whipped texture of the ice cream during and after freezing.
When the ingredients have been mixed in a tank, it is then pasteurized. The pasteurization process involves heating the mixture to a required temperature. Homogenization occurs next where the milk fat is broken down so that the ice cream mixture will be creamy and smooth. It is then quickly cooled to 40 degrees F and then frozen. The ice cream is frozen one batch at a time using the continuous freezer method that has evolved from the method used in the first ice-cream freezers from the 1800’s.
The paddles used in those early freezers may have been precursors to the dasher blades that are used today to keep the ice cream from being solidified. These dashers aerate the ice cream so that it will not weigh more the 4.5 pounds per gallon as required under federal regulations.
After the ice cream leaves the freezer, any chunky ingredients like candy or fruit are added to the mixture before it is packaged. The last step is sending the ice cream to sub-zero temperatures in the hardening room where it is stored until it is shipped and finally ends up in your freezer.