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Everyone knows homemade trumps store-bought, but sometimes store-bought items just have a certain quality you can’t easily replicate. The fluffy airiness of store-bought ice cream is one mystery that at-home ice cream enthusiasts can’t always get right. How do they do it? Basically, it comes down to the churning process.
Ideally, churned ice cream contents will be over 50% air. This air-to-solid/liquid-ingredient ratio can be difficult to achieve with at-home methods. In industrial settings, ice cream’s air content is helped along by a complicated compressed air system. Around 70% of all manufacturers use a compressed air system somewhere in their creation process, and food factories are no exception.
Mass-produced ice cream in a factory setting will usually used a compressed air system to help pasteurize and homogenize the ice cream and kill any possible bacteria, like what’s done with most store-bought dairy products. The compressed air also helps keep the ice cream mixture moving and stable at a cool enough temperature. Eventually, flavors are added and the mix is ready to be, well, mixed. To keep the right amount of air content in the batch, more compressed air technology is used as the batch freezes. Voila, smooth and fluffy ice cream.
Obviously an at-home chef is going to have a hard time finding an ice cream-friendly compressed air system to plop down in their kitchen. So how can they replicate the texture of store-bought brands? There’s a few different methods to play with.
This relatively quick read from blog Dream Scoops goes over some practical ice cream chemistry and gives some tips on how you can preserve the perfect amount of air in your ice cream at home.
Want to jump straight into a recipe? This eggless Philadelphia-style vanilla claims to be the “fastest, freshest, fluffiest ice cream ever”. It’s relatively fast and simple, with an estimated time frame of 30 minutes and just six ingredients. On top of that, the author recommends some alternative texture stabilizers besides eggs, such as gelatin or powdered protein.
If you want an extra airy challenge, here’s one for homemade soft serve ice cream without the specialized soft serve machine. Soft serve is different from classic hard scoop in that it has even more air and is served at a slightly higher temperature.
Worried about your mixture freezing and crystallizing too fast in your freezer? This at-home ice cream hack is pretty popular among dessert aficionados.
What do you think? Any of these tricks for at-home uber-fluffed ice cream sound legitimate to you? Try them out this weekend for a special treat featuring a little kitchen science.