Home-made ice cream and frozen treats are great, but they can become quite frustrating. Often the most frustrating part comes after you freeze the ice cream. Most ice creams are at their best when they are fresh out of the ice cream churn. But often the ice cream doesn’t hold up when it enters the deep freeze. Even if you have a reputable recipe, there are a number of things that most recipes just don’t tell you. Whether you need to keep a refrigerator or freezer at a specific temperature, or that your ice cream maker isn’t as effective as other brands. Whether you are a home cook or a chef looking to dive into the king of all frozen treats, there are definitely some things that we need to talk about to improve the scoop-ability of any ice cream.
“How can I make my ice cream more scoopable?”
What’s The Scoop
There are a number of things that you can do to improve an ice cream recipe.
The first thing is to look at the ingredients you’re using. Do you have enough fat and sugar in your recipe? I know it sounds simple but those are the first lines of defense when it comes to preventing that hard deep freeze that makes scooping impossible. As for fat content it can range from 5-18% depending on the recipe. The more fat in a recipe means there is less water. The less water you have the less ability the recipe has to freeze into a solid block. Sugar acts in a similar way. The higher the sugar content the lower the freezing point of the water will be. In addition to that, the higher the sugar the sweeter the ice cream will be. One way to lower the freezing point without increasing the sweetness is to add glucose DE42. Glucose DE42 is a sugar with a low relative sweetness to granulated sugar but similar freezing depression abilities as granulated sugar. This means in addition to sugar you can add glucose DE42 in greater quantities to a recipe to improve the scoopability and not greatly impact the taste. In other words you dont want to add too much sugar and have an overly sweet ice cream. DE42 allows you to keep it balanced.
The next easy fix would be to add something that will slow the freezing process. Anything that has a very low freezing point will aid in this. The most common flavorful ingredient to add is alcohol. A coffee ice cream can benefit from some coffee liqueur, or a maple ice cream might have a small amount of bourbon. A little alcohol will depress the freezing temperature of the liquid and give a softer texture. Of course that won’t be an option for everyone, but it could be a simple and flavorful fix to a recipe.
Another fix that you can employ would be to make your ice cream base and then allow it to “age“. What this does is allows proteins and fats to separate, The fats will clump together and allow for more air to be trapped within the ice cream as it’s churned. As more air is trapped within the ice cream, the more easily an ice cream will be able to be scooped. The best way to think about this would be like a sponge, all the air pockets within the sponge allow it to be soft but if there were no air pockets it would be much more firm. In the ice cream making world the addition of air is known as “overrun”.
So the last simple household fix we can add is making sure that your ice cream is tempered properly. Ice cream from an ice cream shop is generally frozen to 15°F But a typical home freezer and even a commercial freezer sits at around 0°F. That 15° difference makes a big change in what parts of the ice cream freeze. So if you’re using this at home you can pull out the ice cream and allow it to temper for 10 to 20 minutes before scooping to make sure that it is softer. But this is not a perfect fix because not everyone has the time or the patience to pull ice cream out 15 minutes before they want it. They want it now!
So what are some fixes that we can use to improve scoopability even at lower temperatures.
This is where functional ingredients come in. For instance ingredients such as Perfect Ice Cream Allows for a good amount of “overrun“. Perfect ice cream only requires you to use 0.2-0.4% of perfect ice cream to the total weight of the ice cream. Depending on the amount of aeration you allow into your ice cream you can end up with a 20-30% overrun. This will make for a more scoopable ice cream. Another ingredient that acts in a similar way as perfect ice cream is Tara gum. Tara gum makes for an incredibly smooth ice cream with a moderate amount of overrun. Tara gum can be used in ratios of 0.1-1% of the total weight of the recipe.
But let’s say that you love your ice cream recipe that you’re currently using. You don’t want to change too much about it. This is pretty common, a lot of recipes we love to use are ones that we’ve grown attached to. So in adding new ingredients we feel like we are changing the recipe. With that being said I have one small fix that may help a lot of people keep their recipe mostly the same, but with a small change in the sugar that is being used. Allulose is a type of sugar found naturally in figs and raisins that greatly lowers the freezing point of water when it is dissolved. It is great because it has a very similar flavor to sucrose or table sugar. By replacing a small amount of the table sugar (10-20%) with allulose you can achieve the same flavor and texture of your recipe but improve the scoopability of your favorite recipe.
So whether you’re looking for a quick fix or a much needed boost to your current recipe look no further than a few simple ingredients to help take your ice cream to the next level. Until next time, keep cooking.
Looking to get started? Check out some of our great ice cream recipes: