I barely recognized my daughter at first when I walked into the store.
She was wearing a face mask and plastic gloves. Her hair was pulled into a high ponytail.
However, I recognized her eyes. I think she was grinning when she saw us. Her eyes crinkled a little. She almost disappeared from view as she dipped into a deep container of ice cream.
She has her first job at an ice cream shop, and ice cream is her favorite treat. It’s a good match.
Whenever she knows I am at the grocery store, I get a cryptic text that says “moose tracks.” I know she is requesting her favorite ice cream.
My daughter made a recommendation when I reached the front of the line. My husband ordered chocolate ice cream with brownie chunks, and I had cookie dough ice cream. It was a warm evening, so the creamy coolness of ice cream hit the spot.
July has been designated National Ice Cream Month since 1984. Indulge a bit in a treat that dates back to the fifth century in Greece. Nearly nine out of 10 households have ice cream in their home freezer at any time.
You can learn about your choice by reading food package labels. The label designations have legal definitions. If you are watching your calories, read and compare the nutrition facts labels.
For example, if you choose “lowfat” ice cream, a ½-cup serving will have just 3 grams of fat. “Nonfat” ice cream will have just 0.5 gram of fat per ½-cup serving.
If you prefer “premium” ice cream, be aware that you will be enjoying a higher-fat, higher-calorie product that usually carries a higher price tag. As with any dessert, slow down and savor the flavor.
Try this short quiz with ice cream facts from the International Dairy Foods Association. See https://www.idfa.org for more information.
Question 1. What percent of milkfat must be present in products labeled “ice cream”?
Question 2. Which of the following is not in the top five favorite ice cream flavors in the U.S.?
C: Mint chocolate chip
D: Moose tracks
Question 3. Ice cream makers use the term “overrun” to refer to which feature of ice cream?
A: The amount of air in the product
B: The amount of sugar in the product
C: The amount of fat in the product
D: The price of the product
Question 4. Ice cream ingredient statements might list mono- and diglycerides. What is the function of these ingredients?
A: Adds flavor
B: Improves the texture
C: Adds color
D: Adds protein
Question 5. If you notice that your ice cream is grainy or lumpy, what might have happened?
A: Your ice cream may have thawed and refrozen
B: Your ice cream is old
C: Your freezer might be too warm
D: Both A and C
How did you do? Here are the answers: 1. C; 2. D; 3. A; 4. B; 5. D
Here are some additional tips to keep your ice cream or other frozen treat at its best quality:
- Bring a cooler with ice if you have a distance to drive home. Thawing and refreezing ice cream and other foods can affect the quality, especially the texture. Keeping ice cream frozen prevents the formation of large ice crystals, which lead to graininess.
- Pick up ice cream and other frozen items last at the grocery store. Make grocery shopping the last errand on your list.
- Be sure your home freezer is set at 0 F or lower.
- Store ice cream in the main part of your freezer, not the door where it is warmer.
- Slip the ice cream container into a large freezer bag and seal for longer-term storage. You also can press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream before placing the lid in place.
For a fun summer activity with a tasty end product, consider making “Squeeze Freeze Homemade Ice Cream.” It requires no special equipment, just some freezer bags. The recipe is courtesy of the Midwest Dairy Council.
Squeeze Freeze Homemade Ice Cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
Small resealable plastic bag (pint size)
Large resealable plastic bag (gallon size)
Optional: fresh fruit, chocolate syrup, etc.
Put sugar, vanilla and milk into small plastic bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag and properly seal. Put 1 tablespoon salt into large plastic bag. Drop the small bag into the large plastic bag with salt in it. Add 18 to 20 ice cubes. Remove as much air as possible from the large bag and properly seal. Knead the bag for approximately 10 minutes, making sure ice in the larger bag surrounds the smaller bag. When a soft ice cream is formed, remove small bag from large bag, open and eat right out of bag with a plastic spoon. For extra fun, add fresh seasonal fruit or other favorite ice cream toppings
Makes one serving with 130 calories, 4 grams fat, 4 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber and 55 milligrams sodium.
(Julie Garden-Robinson is a North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences. Follow her on Twitter @jgardenrobinson.)