July is the month when the thought of cold treats tickles your taste buds, it is also National Ice Cream Month. In 1984, President Ronald Reagan not only designated the entire month of July dedicated to the luscious summer treat but also the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day. So, on Sunday, the 17th, grab your family and friends and salute the wonderfulness of ice cream with an ice cream social.
Using a hand-cranked ice cream freezer, invented in the 1700s, was common on weekends and holidays in “the olden days” and pulled people together in large groups and small. Folks would take turns cranking, slow and steady, until their arm gave out and someone else took over. Some days were harder than others to get the young boys to crank slowly.
It is the thawing of the ice caused by the rock salt, packed around the crank freezer, that freezes the ingredients. The secret to getting it all done a bit sooner is to speed up the thawing process by pouring a bit of boiling water on the ice to get the process started. Not much, just enough to start the thawing, depending on the size of the freezer.
Today, there are electric ice cream makers, which are much less exhausting and time-consuming.
One of the best parts about making ice cream, gelato, sorbet, or sherbet is experimenting with different flavor combinations. While you may start your recipe searches in grandma’s cookbook or on Google or even YouTube, once you get the basics down let your imagination and taste buds run wild. Don’t forget to stir in lots of fresh fruits or add them as a topping before serving.
A small tutorial before you begin your explorations into the realms of frozen desserts may be useful for some:
Gelato vs ice-cream
Gelato is a frozen treat from Italy that was created in the 16th century. Gelato has about two-thirds less butterfat than ice cream. It is denser because is churned slowly and the air is not whipped into the product. This makes for a much more flavorful final product. Gelato contains more sugar than ice cream. Gelato is served at a slightly higher temperature than ice cream. Normally, it is usually stored at 0° to 10°F, and served at 10° to 20°F, while ice cream can be stored at -20°F or colder.
Sorbet vs Sherbet
Due to sorbet's lack of dairy, the consistency can often feel drier and rougher, which is why sorbet needs to sit at room temperature longer before eating. Sherbet, on the other hand, has an almost ice cream-like texture due to its cream content. For people who can’t tolerate cow’s milk, sorbet is the answer. This includes people who are lactose intolerant, allergic to dairy, vegetarian, or vegan. Always check the ingredients to make sure before you buy.
Whether you make your own or buy it from the store, gather your people together and enjoy!