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Today is July 7

National Ice Cream Month

Like with other foods, the exact origin of ice cream is unknown. What we do know, however, is the origin of ice cream likely dates back to A.D. 54 to 68 during the time when Nero was Emperor of Rome. Evidence shows harvesting ice or snow, then flavoring it with honey or other flavorings to make ice cream. Alexander the Great supposedly enjoyed icy drinks that had flavorings such as honey or nectar, too!

The first appearance of ice cream in the U.S. is found in a letter by Maryland Governor William Bladen in 1744. Early presidents also had a liking towards ice cream. In fact, in the summer of 1790, George Washington spent approximately $200 for ice cream. For a while, ice cream was only an occasional special treat, mainly for the rich.

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A Flavor For Everybody

Foods don’t get much more coveted than a scoop or two of delicious ice cream on a hot day. Ice cream comes in scores of different flavors. Just ask Baskin Robbins®, which has long touted its own 31 flavors — a different flavor for every day of the month of July. Even though there seems to be a flavor for everybody these days, certain palate-pleasers remain more popular than others. According to an August 2019 survey conducted by ProdegeMR, a provider of people-driven insights for the market research industry, chocolate was consumers’ preferred ice cream flavor in Canada, with 23 percent of survey respondents indicating it was their favorite. The International Dairy Foods Association indicates that Americans favor a different flavor of ice cream. In the United States, vanilla is the flavor of choice, perhaps because vanilla goes with everything and can enhance so many other desserts and treats. As popular as vanilla ice cream is, cookies and cream is being scooped up more and more, and is the most popular flavor in 14 different states.

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Tips to making delicious ice cream at home

Ice cream is a favorite dessert across the globe. The average American consumes more than 23 pounds of ice cream per year, says the International Dairy Foods Association.

Even though a trip to the local ice cream parlor can yield many different opportunities to indulge, making ice cream at home is easier than one may believe. Also, creating homemade ice cream can be a fun way to experiment with unique flavors and textures. It is easy to customize concoctions based on what everyone likes best. Making ice cream also is a fun way to bring the family together with the reward of a tasty prize for all of the effort. Here are some tips for making ice cream at home.

  • Buy quality ingredients. Choose fresh, high-quality ingredients. Real vanilla beans or extract can produce better flavor than imitations. Select in-season berries and other fruits and, if possible, use organic milk. All of these ingredients will blend together for fresh flavor.
  • Freeze equipment early. Cold equipment is necessary to produce ice cream. Store the bowls of an ice cream maker in the freezer to keep them frozen and ready for when the mood strikes to make a batch of ice cream.
  • Avoid ice crystallization. According to Food 52, a foodie equipment and recipe resource, ice crystals in the ice cream can ruin texture by making ice cream crunchy. Freezing ice cream quickly at very cold temperatures is essential. That means freezing the bowl and keeping the ingredient mix cold. Spinning the ice cream and transfering it quickly to the freezer helps keep ice crystals small.
  • Keep mix-ins small. Mix-ins, like cookie pieces or cake crumbs, can add a different dimension to ice cream. Chill the ingredients and make sure they are small (roughly the size of chocolate chips). Add them after the ice cream is entirely frozen.
  • Watch alcohol usage. Alcohol can create a tipsy ice cream experience, but adding too much can interfere with ice cream’s ability to freeze. Therefore, use alcohol sparingly.
  • Store ice cream smartly. According to David Lebovitz, author of “The Perfect Scoop,” store ice cream in a shallow container to keep it softer. Also, cover the surface of the ice cream with plastic wrap to prevent ice crystals from forming.

Homemade ice cream will last for roughly a week in the freezer. Making ice cream can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor.