Ice Cream

“It was quite a challenge to make people eat crab ice-cream” – Heston Blumenthal – Michelin Star Chef

You’ll be hard pressed not to find some form of ice-cream on most pubs’ dessert menus, although probably nothing as experimental as crab ice-cream!

Whilst there many wholesale varieties of ice-cream, nothing compares to ice-cream made in your own kitchen. You can ensure the quality and provenance of the ingredients and you (and your customers) get to choose the flavours.

Ice-cream can be traced back as far as 2,200 years to China, Marco Polo came back from the Far East with a recipe for sorbet in 13th century and King Charles I enjoyed a frozen cream dessert from his chefs.

It wasn’t until 1864 that the first ice-cream maker was patented and not until the continual freezing process became widespread in the 1920s that ice-cream became widely available.

Ice Cream recipes fall in to four broad groups:

  • Custard based
  • Sorbet
  • Gelato (Italian style)

all of which require heating of the ice-cream base and:

  • Cream based

which, doesn’t need heating before the churning and freezing process

The main thing is that all these can be made in a commercial ice-cream maker.

Catering equipment manufacturers and suppliers have long recognised the demand for low-volume / high quality ice-cream making machines for small kitchens. The function of an ice-cream maker is to take a ice-cream based and churn it slowly under a freezing temperature until it forms the familiar smooth ice-cream.

There are two types of ice-cream, soft and hard, but the production process is very similar. Soft ice-cream gets its light and creamy texture through the introduction of air in the freezing and churning process, typically this can be anywhere from 25% to 50% of the volume depending on the speed and length of time of the churn. Churning your ice-cream base whilst it is being frozen in the ice-cream maker prevents large ice crystals forming and makes the finished ice-cream smoother.

While you might be tempted to purchase a domestic ice-cream maker for your pub kitchen you’ll find they seldom deliver the quality of ice-cream texture which customers expect or the quantity you need. Domestic ice-cream makers may not have a freezing facility and the output will have a coarse texture that your customers may find unacceptable.

Ice-cream making and storage tips

Top Tip – keep your ice-cream maker’s internal container in the freezer when not in use – this will ensure rapid freezing when you come to the churn and freeze part of the process.

To produce a good ice-cream, be it hard or smooth, you have to follow the recipe you are using exactly. For instance you might be tempted to add lots of pulped fruit to enhance the flavour, but too much fruit can upset the sugar balance and prevent smooth freezing of the ice crystals. Similarly using too much fat in the form of eggs or cream will also cause the ice-cream to fail. All suppliers of ice-cream machines offer recipe and ingredient support and many will also give training to chefs.

As your pub’s ice-cream won’t contain the preservatives or stabilisers other, large scale, commercial manufacturers use, it will not keep that well; typically you can store “home-made” ice-cream for a maximum of two months. As with the best of cuisines your mantra should be “fresh is best”. Try to only make that amount which is needed that day’s service, this will help you avoid serving an ice-cream which is starting to break up.

Ice-cream is very easily tainted by other strong flavours, so you must keep it stored in air tight containers and store it away from any strongly aromatic products.

Hygiene is paramount in ice-cream making, as it is in any process in your kitchen so you have to ensure your ice-cream making equipment and utensils are kept scrupulously clean.

A professional heavy metal scoop is the best way of dispensing ice-cream, but the scoop can attract bacteria to the fat and sugar during use. Keep the scoop in a pot of sanitised water and change the water every hour.

Wooden or plastic spoons and spatulas are best with ice-cream makers as you want to avoid damaging the internal surfaces of your ice-cream making machine.

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