Ice cream has come a long way from the mountains of ancient China, where it is believed to have originated using snow as a base. Today, Americans eat a whopping 15 quarts of ice cream per year.
Did you know that air is probably the single most important component used in the ice cream making process? When ice cream is churned, air is gradually incorporated into the mixture to give it a silky, smooth consistency while also preventing ice crystals from forming. Without air, ice cream would be rock hard, and with too much air, it would be a mushy mess.
The U.S. government says that in order to be legally labeled as ice cream, frozen dessert products must contain at least 10% milk fat, which is what usually gives ice cream its smooth texture and creamy mouth-feel.
However, gelato, an Italian-style ice cream, is creamier and richer than most U.S. varieties, but not because additional milk fat. Gelato’s denseness comes from the fact that less air is incorporated into its mixture.