The recent recall of Blue Bell ice cream after several deaths were attributed to its listeria-tainted ice cream has caused many people to wonder if their favorite treat is safe to eat. The Wall Street Journal article, “The Lessons of a Deadly Ice Cream Recall” states that three small ice cream manufacturers in addition to Blue Bell have also found listeria in their ice cream.
While deadly bacteria in ice cream is obviously troubling (to say the least), many people are unaware that most ice cream manufacturers use high quantities of corn syrup and its evil half-sister, high-fructose corn syrup in their ice cream. The corn syrup replaces regular sugar and helps reduce ice crystalization in the ice cream. Most ice creams also have other “gums” and thickeners to extend the shelf life of the ice cream.
Even worse is the birth of the “Frozen Dairy Dessert.” Masquerading as ice cream, and stacked right next to the bona-fide traditional confection, it nevertheless cannot legally be considered “ice cream.” One New York Times writer posited that the difference between real ice cream and frozen dairy dessert was like the difference between “a slice of American cheese and a slice of Kraft Singles American Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product.” Basically, ice cream must contain at least 10% dairy fat to be considered “ice cream.” Frozen Dairy Dessert is not called “ice cream” because it does not contain the required amount of milk products, instead replacing them with corn syrup and other artificial emulsifiers.
So what is to be done about the outright (though accidental) poisoning, or (not-accidental) adulterating of our ice cream? The only way to guarantee safe and healthy ice cream is to make it yourself.
Some may balk at using the words “healthy” and “ice cream” in the same breath. While it is true that the fat and sugar in ice cream are not healthy, it is also true that many health benefits can be derived from dairy products, and that real fruits and nuts, and even essential oils can be added to home-made ice cream. Most commercial ice cream manufacturers use artificial flavorings and colorings in their ice cream. If there is any actual fruit in their ice cream, it has often been mixed with corn syrup. More often than not, the fruit only appears as a suggestion, labeled enigmatically as “natural flavoring.”
When you make ice cream at home, you fully control the ingredients you add to your ice cream. You make real, premium ice cream with whole milk and cream–not “frozen dairy dessert.” Because of the high dairy content of your ice cream, you receive benefits such as calcium to strengthen your bones and teeth. Calcium also helps in blood clotting, and maintaining normal blood pressure. Less well-known is that milk is an important source of the mineral choline, which helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning, and memory. Milk also provides essential vitamins such as potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, vitamins A, B-6, and B-12. Dairy products also contain tryptophan (a building block of protein) which your body needs to produce serotonin. It has long been a cultural joke that depressed women will drown their sorrows in a tub of ice cream. There may be a real reason for that, as increased serotonin levels combat depression. (See “What Are the Health Benefits of Milk?“)
Adding fruits, nuts, and essential oils to your home-made ice cream further increases the health benefits available to you. Each ice cream recipe on this blog lists the ingredients and their health benefits, with links to articles that further explain the salutary effects of each ingredient listed.
Shouldn’t you be sure that you are getting a safe, quality product? Making your own ice cream at home is really the only way to do this. Plus, it’s fun and easy! Read my article, “Do You Really Need an Ice Cream Maker? Yes. Yes You Do” to get started. This article explains what the secret ingredient is for great ice cream, as well as the difference between modern ice cream makers and the unwieldy ice cream makers of yore. You can get my favorite ice cream maker here. You may also be interested in my posts, “Three Reasons Making Ice Cream is Easier Than You Think” and “Can You Make Ice Cream Without Sugar?”
Look around the site to find some great and unique ice cream recipes. The recipes are categorized according to how long they take to make, the ingredients they contain, and are also listed in alphabetical order. Check out the “Low” time commitment ice creams for some quick, easy recipes to get started. I highly recommend the Mint Lover’s Ice Cream, one of my all-time favorites! Be sure to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss out on any of the new flavors that are continually being posted. Now is the time to take your ice cream into your own hands! Or mouth, as the case may be 🙂