In honor of National Ice Cream Day on July 21, we couldn’t resist delving deeper into one America’s all-time beloved desserts. In fact, the United States is the top consumer of ice cream in the world! We are all familiar with our tried and true favorites, but what else is out there? For those with dietary concerns or just interested in trying something new, options abound for other kinds of cold sweet treats. If you are overwhelmed by the variety of pints lining your freezer aisle, here are some facts to help:
1. Ice Cream: The old standby of childhood memories, the main ingredients in traditional ice cream are milk and cream.These components result in high fat and calorie content, but also give ice cream that signature rich and creamy taste. Churning the ice cream hard and fast gives it added air for a smooth, fluffy texture. Two of our new favorites are Three Twins and Straus Family Creamery, both hailing from local Petaluma, CA and taking ice cream to the next level.
2. Gelato: Ice cream’s Italian counterpart, gelato has a higher proportion of milk than cream which lowers the fat and can intensify the main flavor. It is denser because it is churned at a much slower rate, and retains a somewhat elastic, soft quality. Gelato is also served at a warmer temperature than ice cream. Talenti is making gelato in unique flavors, and The Latest Scoop is bringing you a little piece of Italy from Berkeley, CA.
3. Sorbet/Sherbet: Although similar in taste and texture, there are some differences between the two. Sorbet is made with just pureed fruit, sugar and water, and is completely dairy free. Sherbet has the same ingredients, but may also contain milk, egg whites or gelatin, and usually has a milkfat content of one to two percent. They are both naturally low in fat, but may have a higher amount of sugar. Their icy consistency showcases natural fruit flavors well, and is refreshing on a hot summer day. Gelato Massimo and Ciao Bella craft Italian style sorbet in a range of flavors and gorgeous colors.
4. Frozen Yogurt: A blend of yogurt (cultured milk) and an ice cream base of milk, cream and sweeteners, this treat has become very popular with shops popping up all over the country. There is a debate on whether the yogurt retains its probiotic benefits after the freezing process, but the tart flavor does help to stabilize appetite and energy. This is a lower fat option, but can have higher calories (by thompson at dhead). Recently, Greek Frozen Yogurt has come on the market, and its concentrated protein provides a creaminess while lowering fat and carbs. Ben & Jerry’s provides these lighter options with the signature quality you expect from the brand.
5. Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert: For those that crave the flavor of ice cream without the dairy, there are many alternatives to choose from. These are made with a different milk base such as: soy, coconut, rice, almond/cashew, or a combination of soy protein and tofu. Natural emulsifiers and organic sweeteners are added such as agave, vanilla extract and crystallized cane juice. New brands have come out with innovative and tasty combinations in recent years including local Double Rainbow, Coconut Bliss and Amy’s Kitchen.
Whether you are inspired to try a fresh flavor or type of frozen dessert, here’s to exploring the wonderful world of ice cream.