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Published June 26, 2009, 12:00 AM

Enjoy tasty frozen desserts in moderation

My 11-year-old daughter and I huddled around our electric ice cream maker, head to head. We watched the paddle rotate its way through the slowly thickening cream and sugar mixture.

By: Julie Garden-Robinson, INFORUM

My 11-year-old daughter and I huddled around our electric ice cream maker, head to head. We watched the paddle rotate its way through the slowly thickening cream and sugar mixture.

Unfortunately, the ice cream did not freeze any faster under our careful scrutiny.

My daughter was working on a 4-H food science project. I was curious whether the recipe would turn out in an electric ice cream maker and with added strawberries.

Yes, we both like ice cream. We wanted to taste this creation as soon as possible.

We are not alone in liking ice cream. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, about 1.6 billion gallons of frozen dairy products are produced annually in the United States.

Frozen desserts have been popular since someone created a snow-conelike dessert in the second century B.C. In ancient Rome, snow from the mountains was flavored with fruit and juice.

Some historians trace a dessert similar to modern-day ice cream to 16th century Europe. The recipe had evolved from one that Marco Polo brought to Italy after trips to the Far East. In the 17th century, “cream ice” as it was called, was regularly served at the table of

Charles I.

Now we have many frozen dessert choices and the products must be labeled appropriately. To be labeled “ice cream,” a food must have 10 percent milk fat by weight and a gallon must weigh at least 4.5 pounds.

“Premium” ice cream usually contains more than 12 percent milk fat, so it is higher in calories and fat.

Ice cream labeled “frozen custard” or “French ice cream” must have 10 percent milk fat and 1.4 percent egg yolk solids by weight.

Sherbets are lower in fat, with 1 percent or 2 percent milk fat required. Most types of sherbet have a higher sweetener content and weigh about 6 pounds per gallon.

Gelato is a frozen dessert with more milk than cream and sweeteners, egg yolks and flavorings. Sorbets or ices contain no dairy ingredients.

Frozen desserts vary widely in calorie and fat content, so read the Nutrition Facts labels. If you prefer the “ultrapremium” ice creams, eat a smaller portion and savor every bite.

Enjoy some ice cream during June, National Dairy Month. Practice your ice cream making (or eating) skills because June paves the way for July, National Ice Cream Month.

Follow these tips adapted from the International Dairy Foods Association:

- Be sure the ice cream freezer case is your last stop in the grocery store. If you are picking up ice cream from an open freezer case, choose containers below the freezer line.

- Be sure your freezer is set at zero degrees or lower. Store ice cream in the main section of the freezer, not the door.

- Be sure the ice cream container lid is kept tightly closed. Ice cream can pick up the flavor of other foods, so be sure all foods are packaged properly.

Many recipes are available for making ice cream at home. If you find a recipe that calls for raw eggs, which will not be cooked to form a custard, either use pasteurized eggs (which are heat treated to make bacteria inactive) or find a new recipe. With this easy recipe, you won’t even need an ice cream maker.


Ice Cream in a Bag

1 cup milk

1 cup half and half

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Crushed ice

1 cup rock salt

1 quart-sized freezer bag

1 gallon-sized freezer bag

Duct tape

Bath towel

Put the milk, half and half, sugar and vanilla in a 1-quart freezer bag and seal. Fold a piece of duct tape over the seal. Place the bag with the ingredients inside a gallon-sized freezer bag. Pack the larger bag with crushed ice around the smaller bag. Pour ¾ to 1 cup of salt evenly over the ice. Seal the outer bag. Wrap in a bath towel and shake for 10 minutes. Open the outer bag and remove the inner bag with the ingredients. Wipe off the bag to be sure salt water doesn’t get into the ice cream. When ice cream has formed, cut the top off the bag and spoon into cups.

Makes four servings (about ½ cup per serving). Each serving has 150 calories, 8 grams (g) of fat, 50 milligrams of sodium and 15 percent of the daily value for calcium.


Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences

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