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Georgia's State Flags,
Home of Good Eats
and Myself

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Churn Baby Churn II

The Megamart: Ice Cream Isle

GUEST: Megamart Worker

    If you ask me, nothing hits the proverbial spot like ice cream. And while I might argue that there's no such thing as bad ice cream, once you've locked spoons with a super premium ice cream, well, you're ruined for life. Why? Well, because they are high in carbs, high in fat, and usually high in price. [takes out a carton of ice cream out of the cooler which is chained to case] Pound for pound, premium ice creams are just about the most expensive foods the megamart has to offer, and ...

WORKER: Sir, can I unlock that Ralph and Jeremy's Triple Choco Latte Ginger Crunch for you?
AB: I was just looking.
MW: Well, let's keep on looking from the other side of the glass, shall we? [takes the ice cream container and puts it back in the case, moves down to another customer and does the same thing]
AB: Ooooo-kaaaay

    So that's how it is. Fine. I think this is a freezer case for ...

["Good Eats" theme plays]

The Kitchen

GUESTS: Federal USDA inspector #1, #2 and #3

    If we are going to manufacture our very own super-premium ice cream, the first thing we have to do is figure out exactly what a super-premium ice cream is. [examines a carton of ice cream with a magnifying glass] I mean, does this carton contain some kind of special ingredient, or does it simply bear a very very large price tag? I wonder what the Federales would say?

FED #1:  The Food and Drug Administration recognizes four primary categories of frozen dairy product in the dessert form. Ice creams must contain a minimum of 10 percent butterfat. "French-style" or "frozen custard" ice creams must also contain 1.4 percent egg yolk solids.

    Ice creams that don't contain eggs are generally referred to as "Philadelphia-style" ice creams.

FED #1: "Reduced-fat" ice creams must contain 25 percent less total fat than the original referenced product. "Light" ice cream must contain 50 percent less total fat or 33 percent fewer calories than the original referenced product. Low-fat ice creams can contain no more than three grams total fat per one-half cup serving.
AB: Half a cup? You call that a serving?
FED #2: [whispering to Fed #1] Let me take him down, sir.
FED #1: Maybe in a minute. "Non-fat" ice cream must contain less than 0.5 grams of total fat per serving.
AB: So, it's not non-fat, it's actually very, very, very low fat, hmmm?
FEDS: [lower their glasses and give AB a menacing stare]
AB: Okay. Okay. Non-fat it is.
FED #1: Air content, or "overrun" may not exceed 100 percent of the total volume in any of these products. And if over 50% of the flavoring agent is artificial in nature, the product must be labeled as ... [points to FED #3]
FED #3: ... chocolate-flavored ice cream.
FED #1: [points to FED #2]
FED #2: ... strawberry-flavored ice cream.
FED #1: As for terms such as "economy", "regular", "premium", and "super premium", these are marketing terms, and are not regulated by your government.
AB: Anything else?
FED #1: Yes. A gallon of commercial ice cream had better weigh a minimum of 4.5 pounds or someone's going to get a visit. Let's move out.
    Here we have one pint of super-premium ice cream and it weighs 440 grams. Here we have half a gallon—that's four pints—of "light" ice cream, and it weighs 1070 grams. Now if we were to multiply this [super-premium ice cream] times four to get this volume, we would end up with 1760 grams. Which means that this ice cream, all things being equal, weighs 1.63 times what this ["light] one does. That's a lot more. How is this possible? What's going on? Let's find out.
    If you want to get the truth about volume, the first thing we're going to have to do is get rid of the air. And the best way to do that is to melt the ice cream. So, I simply put my samples inside glass and nuked them at relatively low power until they were all deflated.
    Well, I'd say this tells the tale. When melted, our pint of super-premium ice cream is still 85 percent of its original volume, while our budget, "light" ice cream is only 62 percent of its original volume. That means that the person that bought this ice ["light"] cream bought a lot of air, or "overrun" ... which is not to say that air is a bad thing.

Ice cream was served at England's Windsor castle as early as 1667.

    The third thing that we could do to identify a super-premium ice cream is to take a look at its structure under a powerful microscope which I don't have. So, I'm going to compare it to a baked good [holds up a slice of pound cake]. And yes, this does make sense. After all, an ice cream is essentially a foam, structurally, as is baked goods such as cakes and breads. Now, let's say for just a moment that this slice of pound cake is actually a core sample from our premium pint.

AB: Lights! [lights turn off]

    Now, if you were to light it up from behind, you would see a very, very fine and uniform bubble structure, okay? Now when this is in an ice cream, what you end up with ...

AB: Lights! [lights turn back on]

... is an ice cream that is very dense but velvety on the tongue, and very, very slow to melt in the bowl. Yum. Now conversely, if we were to take a core sample of our budget half-gallon of ice cream, it would look a lot like this rustic bread. Let's take a look.

AB: Lights! [lights turn off]

    Now, you see how the bubbles are very non-uniform. Some of them are very big, some tiny, it's just a mess. Now, this can be very tasty in bread, but not so much so in ice cream.

AB: Lights! [lights turn back on]

    In ice cream, this kind of structure creates something that's very, kind of flat and dull-feeling on the tongue, and it melts very, very quickly in the plate. So, we can see that bubble structure is a very ,very important thing. But then of course, so are the ingredients that make the bubbles possible.

Harry's Farmers Market: Marietta, GA - 9:15 AM

    Let us now ponder the primary parts list of a premium ice cream. We have ice. We have sugar. We have air. All of which are very easy to find. We're also going to need protein for bubble construction, a fair amount of fat, some emulsifiers and various salts, and, of course, flavorants which we'll get to. Most of these things can be got through a cunning combination of eggs; and by eggs, of course I mean Grade A large chicken eggs—standard of the industry—and dairy. And dairy is where things are going to get a little bit tricky.
    [sits near the milk display] Gracious, but have you ever beheld such a cornucopia of milk-iness. Look, we've got, of course, whole milk. But then we've also got skim milk, and 1% milk, and 2% milk, and half-and-half of every different kind. There might even be a 3% milk that I missed. And you know we've got light cream. And, of course, we have got heavy cream. The main difference in all these, of course, is fat content. Time to do a little experiment.

Powdered milk is often added to ice cream mixtures to increase protein content and therefore improve texture.

The Kitchen

GUESTS: Scientists
              Hula Dancer Doll
              Captain Sucrose Doll

    Having formulated and tested hundreds of different combinations, I have decided, without a doubt, that the best formula for a premium vanilla-based ice cream is: 9 , 8 , 3 , 2 , 1. [applause]

AB: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so ... Please. Please. Sit back down.

    Okay, so maybe some explanation. What I mean, of course, is that the secret to a fine premium vanilla-based ice cream is: 9 ounces of sugar, vanilla sugar if you can make it. And all you have to do is shove a pod or two in the sugar and let it sit for about a week. It would be a nice flavor. 9 Ounces Vanilla Sugar
    Eight egg yolks, 3 cups of half-and-half, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Now we're only making vanilla ice cream here. If I was making a different ice cream, we would use a different amount of a different flavoring depending on if it was an extract or an oil. More on that later. 8 Large Egg Yolks

3 Cups Half & Half

2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

    Last but not least, 1 cup of heavy cream. That's right, heavy cream. Look, I said I would help you make premium ice cream; I didn't say anything about low-carb ice cream or low-fat ice cream or low-anything else ice cream. As far as I'm concerned, ice cream shouldn't be low anything. It should just taste good. 1 Cup Heavy Cream

    Now ingredients are very important and I think we've got a good balance here. But how they are assembled, now that's what really matters.
    Kick up your favorite neighborhood burner to medium, apply your favorite medium saucepan, and add both the cream and the half-and-half and let this come just to a simmer. Now this step is called "scalding the dairy", and although scientists are still arguing over what is actually achieved here, ...

SCIENTIST # 1: It's the proteins.
SCIENTIST # 2: It's the enzymes.
SCIENTIST # 1: The proteins!
SCIENTIST # 2: Enzymes!
SCIENTIST # 1: [hits #2's hand, takes his slide rule and throws it on the floor]
SCIENTIST # 2: Oww! [pushes #1]
SCIENTIST # 1: [pushes #2]
SCIENTIST # 2: [lunges toward #1, the camera pans back to AB]

... personally, I think heat changes everything. But when you consider the fact that those dairy products over there have already been heated during pasteurization, ...

    Named after the father of food science, Louis Pasteur. Yeahhh! [applause]

King Louis

... I suspect that the real reason has to do with generating enough heat to gently cook the eggs that we will soon be adding to that mixture. And of course, it has to do with extracting flavors, because now is the time that we would be extracting flavor from, say, vanilla beans, if we were using vanilla beans, but we're not using vanilla beans.
    While the dairy heats up, whisk the yolks until they are light and creamy. Think of this as shaking up a bottle of salad dressing.

THING: [shakes a bottle of salad dressing]

    After all, an egg yolk contains water and fat as well as emulsifiers. If we skip this step and just dump the sugar in there, the sugar, being hygroscopic, will grab hold of the available water leaving the fat and emulsifiers out of the union.

AB: Thank you, Thing.

    And that would lead to a less-than-ideal custard. That's right, kids. Premium ice creams are made from stirred custards.
    Now as for the sugar, the key, goooooooo slooowww. Just barely sprinkle the sugar into the eggs while whisking with great vigor. Now, this is going to take a little bit of time. But eventually, the mixture will lighten in color, thicken until it'll actually fall off of the whisk in kind of a long ribbon. It's called the ribbon stage, and it is important that you do this right. Why? Well, the proteins in the eggs are very vulnerable to heat. Let's just pretend for a second that those proteins are portrayed by this little hula dancer. Here's how it works.
    So the proteins are just floating around in the eggs and then here comes the oven's intense heat [turns on a welding flame, points it at the hula dancer].
    [As hula dancer] "Oh no, I'm going to roast and coagulate. Save me, Captain Sucrose!"
    [As Captain Sucrose] "I'll save you. I'm Captain Sucrose."
    And Captain Sucrose, with his gigantic molecular structures, gets in between all that heat.
    [As Captain Sucrose] "Unhh, unhh, unhh, unhh, unhh"
    And the proteins [as hula dancer] "Oh, thank you, Captain Sucrose"

AB: Well, Captain Sucrose, I think that's going to leave a mark.

    The good news for us is that we have attained a good ribbon stage here. Actually, I've almost taken that to the silly string phase, but it'll be fine. Now let's check on the dairy.
    As soon as your dairy attains bare bubblage, kill the heat, grab your favorite ladle and a pot holder, and follow me. We will temper the hot liquid into the egg mixture; that is, gradually add it, so that the egg temperature slowly increases, thus avoiding over coagulation. Now once you've slowly whisked in about a third of the mixture, go ahead and pour in everything else. Then return the mixture to the cook top, crank the heat just to low, and stirring often, bring the mixture up to 170 degrees. How will you know that you've got 170 degrees? Well, because you'll be using your faithful thermometer. I like an instant read for this.
    Now what is so special about 170 degrees? Well, that's the temperature where ...

SALMONELLA: [pops his head out of the dairy mixture] Unhh, unhh, it's too hot in this jacuzzi. I'm out of here. [flies out of the pot]

... Well, let's just say that at this temperature, salmonella doesn't live here anymore. Now 170 degrees is also the correct temperature for the amount of protein coagulation that we're looking for in order to have a good, stable custard. And without that, we won't have good bubble formation. That would be a bad thing. Now the reason that I'm doing this over low heat is that the slower we heat the eggs, the better the custard will be. So take your time and your patience will be rewarded.

In 1982, the world's largest sundae was created with 15,000 lbs. of
ice cream, 120 lbs. of chocolate syrup and 50 lbs. of whipped topping.

The Kitchen

    We have reached 170 degrees, so I'm going to kill the heat and we will confirm that the custard is done by doing a test that the French call nappe [pron: nah-PAY]. Observe: a metal spoon [dips the spoon into the custard], flipped over, will remain coated. [wipes his finger across a portion of the spoon, the rest of the custard stays in place] See that? That's nappe, which is, of course, French for "coat le back of le spoon." Very nice.
    Now we need to get this off the heat, quickly, so I'm going to move it to a metal bowl. You can chill this in the freezer, if you want, which will speed things up. I'm going to let this cool down for just a few minutes, which will give us time to consider flavorants.
    Although we could certainly have steeped any flavor-producing elements in our hot dairy phase, that would have committed us to one particular flavor for the whole batch. By using extracts or essential oils at the end of the process, we gain the freedom to make a really big batch of base and then split it up and flavor each one of those batches differently.
    Now the original formula that I quoted you—the 9 , 8 , 3 , 2 , 1—specifically called for two teaspoons of vanilla. And I often add vanilla to different bases, even the ones that aren't going to be vanilla-flavored. But in this case, I'm going to make my favorite ice cream of all time, mint chip. So I'm going to eliminate the two teaspoons of vanilla, and replace it with one teaspoon of peppermint oil. Now I can do that because oils are typically much, much stronger, more potent in flavor than extracts. They also have the added benefit of containing no alcohol, although they can go rancid on you if you store them improperly. Life's full of trade-offs.
    Extracts and essential oils contain volatile substances that will simply disappear into thin air if they get too hot, so it's always a good idea to add them after the mixture has had time to cool down a bit. Just mix that in, and then move your mixture to a sealable container, and stash it in your refrigerator for as long as it takes for the temperature to drop below 40 degrees. I'd say at least four hours, but, could be six to eight, depending. Now food scientists are still wrestling over what happens during this aging process.

SCIENTIST #1: Listen, I'm still right.
SCIENTIST #2: No. I'm right.
SCIENTIST #1: No. I'm right.
SCIENTIST #2: Shoot. [puts out "paper" of rock-scissors-papper]
SCIENTIST #1: Rock. Nice.

    Wow, who knew the scientific community was so passionate. There is one thing that we can all agree on and that is that chilled mixtures freeze faster when they're churned than non-chilled mixtures; and that means that they have a finer ice crystal structure\; and that means they have a better texture.
    Let's talk for a moment about chocolate, shall we? Now, one might think that making chocolate ice cream would simply involve melting chocolate into the original 9 , 8 , 3 , 2 , 1 mixture. And indeed, that can be done. But let's consider for a moment the anatomy of solid chocolate. Now most chocolate contains a fair amount of sugar, which we've already got enough of that. And we also don't need any extract. We don't need any milk or any salt. So what it really comes down to are the two primary chocolate components. We've got cocoa solids, and cocoa butter.
    Now cocoa butter is composed of a very complex bunch of fats that melt at different temperatures. Although luscious when going from room temperature to inside your mouth, the cold of ice cream renders this stuff waxy and hard. So we don't want to have anything to do with it. All we really want here, in fact, is cocoa solids, and this we can get easily from good old fashioned cocoa powder. Dutch-processed or alkalized is best because it disperses in liquid easily. And of course, its color is, well, I don't know, more chocolately.

    To make a darn fine chocolate ice cream, just dump one and a half ounces—by weight, please—of cocoa powder into the bottom of your saucepan, then whisk in about one cup of the half-and-half from our recipe. You remember the formula, the 9 : 8 : 3 : 2 : 1 formula. Now the whole point of this is, it'll be easier to work it into a slurry. It'll be a nice thick liquid which will help break up all those chunks of cocoa powder. Now once you've got that, you can add the rest of the liquid and build our formula just as before. Only this time after you cook and cool, you will be adding the two teaspoons of vanilla extract.

1.5 Ounces Dutch Process
    Cocoa Powder

2 tsp. Vanilla Extract

George Washington, Dolly Madison, and
Thomas Jefferson were all huge ice cream fans.

    Now that our mixtures have a little age on them and are thoroughly chilled, we are ready to churn. Although hand churns are certainly romantic and nostalgic and capable of cranking out large quantities of goods, I save them for when I've got some extra labor hanging around ... you know, like my nephew.
    Self-contained refrigerated rigs like this can make ice cream all day long. But they've got prices that, well, are higher than my first car ... or my second, or third car, now that I think about it. So, I think they're better suited to small restaurants or ice cream shops. Nope, my choice for everyday churning is still an electric machine that utilizes a liquid-filled core that you park in your freezer overnight.

The modern hand-cranked ice cream freezer was invented
in 1846 by a Philadelphia dairymaid named Nancy Johnson.

The Kitchen

    Now that our mixtures are thoroughly chilled and have a little age on them, we are ready to begin the churning process.

Make sure the mixture is chilled to a temperature of 40 degrees or below.

    Ahh, mint chip. That's got chunks in it. And of course, there's a science to chunks just like anything else. Now if we were adding porous chunks, say, I don't know, little pretzels for instance, we would want to add those very close to the end of the churning process, because we wouldn't want them to get soggy. Not true with these chopped up chocolate mint candies. You know the kind that they leave on your hotel pillow, right? We can add these now because they're solid. They're not going to fall apart during the churning. And believe it or not, they're actually going to contribute some additional mint flavor. So in they go.

3 Ounces Chocolate Mint

    If you are a premium ice cream fan, you are going to want to move your new ice creams to sealable containers and stash them in your freezer for at least six to eight hours so that the ice cream can thoroughly harden. If you're a soft-serve fan, you just eat it all right now. The choice is yours.
    For centuries now, man has been building devices to deliver ice cream into his bowl. The problem is, most of them don't work that well. Gadgets such as this guy, this scoop that's got the little button thing in the back so that it'll push the ice cream out of the scoop; it's cute, but it's also almost useless because you can hardly ever get the ice cream up into the scoop. The same can be said for dishers. Now dishers have a lot of different applications. It's got kind of a little sweeper that kind of wipes things out of the bowl with the pull of a handle. And its really good for things like mashed potatoes, but because of the shape of the scoop and the handle, not so good for ice cream.
    Spades. That's a completely different school of ice cream delivery device. And these work great if you're working a really big container or if you're trying to fold solid ingredients, chunks, into softened ice cream. Not so good for trying to get scoops out of smaller containers.
    For that, you want something with a much smaller scoop head like this guy right here. Now this has got a really interesting leading edge, which acts almost like a knife, to cut into the ice cream. Looks kind of like Pac-Man. This one's even got a special liquid in the handle, which helps transmit heat from the hand to the head, thus cutting into the ice cream faster. The problem, scoop size, a little small. Don't really care for the handle.
    My favorite has a far more ergonomic handle, has a nice heft, and a big, wide, open scoop. And these corners, you see, can really cut into the ice cream from the sides, so you can scoop like this. Ahh, vanilla, a little taste of the tropics. Mint chip, with those luscious little mint candies, so nice. And of course, chocolate: dark, creamy, and decadent. Oooh, come to papa.
    There. Now that, my friends, is what I call good ...

[the door opens and the Feds enter]

FED #1: So, Mr. Brown, we've had reports of suspicious and potentially dangerous substances here in your kitchen. So, we're going to have to confiscate these containers pending further investigation by the, uh ...
FED #2: The National Dessert Board
FED #1: ... the National Dessert Board. We'll send the containers back via mail.

[they leave taking the ice cream with them]

FED #3: [returns and takes the scoop] Have a nice day.

    Well, I hope that we've inspired you to take your passion for premium ice cream into your own hands. Using a simple, easy-to-memorize formula, you will save dollars a pint and keep yourself in a constant supply of some of the best eats on the planet. But unless you want to see it all disappear [referencing the Feds], you might want to, I don't know, put it in a lock, get some drapes, or something.
    See you next time.

The Kitchen

FED #3: [pointing to AB off camera] We're watching you, little man.

Transcribed by Michael Roberts
Proofread by Michael Menninger

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Last Edited on 08/27/2010