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Published August 03, 2012, 12:00 AM

Prairie Fare: Ice cream in a bag a cool summer treat

“Would anyone like dessert? We have homemade ice cream today,” the server noted. “No, I am fine without dessert,” they all said in chorus.

By: Julie Garden-Robinson, INFORUM

“Would anyone like dessert? We have homemade ice cream today,” the server noted.

“No, I am fine without dessert,” they all said in chorus.

I was with a group of nutrition specialists at the time. Although I really wanted some homemade ice cream, I succumbed to this positive peer influence.

However, I don’t think anyone would have cast a disapproving glance in my direction if I had ordered a dessert.

I exercised some self-restraint and shook my head as the server retrieved my dessert menu. However, I really wanted some ice cream.

All week, I thought about the refreshing, creamy ice cream I would enjoy when I arrived back home. I was even thinking about making it from scratch using our ice cream maker.

On my last day at the conference, I packed my suitcase and went to the lobby to check out of the hotel before catching a shuttle to the airport. Dozens of people were clustered around a large display populated by chefs holding scoops.

I had walked into the hotel’s celebration of National Ice Cream Day. You could top your treat with assorted toppings and enjoy your frozen dessert in a cup or cone.

I had to pinch myself to be sure I wasn’t dreaming as I stepped into the line to get a scoop of chocolate ice cream. I added fresh raspberries and enjoyed every delicious bite.

Ice cream has a long history and many fans, but no one has been credited officially as the undisputed inventor of ice cream. Historical accounts make references to ice-cream-like treats dating as far back as the second century B.C.

Ice cream may have evolved from using snow flavored with fruits.

According to the National Agriculture Statistics Service, U.S. ice cream manufacturers produced more than 1.5 billion gallons of ice cream in 2011. The most popular flavor is vanilla, followed by chocolate chip mint and cookies and cream, according to the International Ice Cream Association.

Many different types of frozen dessert products are available, and the ingredients and fat content are regulated by federal laws. For example, ice cream, by definition, must have at least 10 percent milkfat and must weigh at least 4.5 pounds per gallon.

Along with dairy ingredients, ice cream contains sweeteners and potentially other ingredients such as chocolate chunks and cookie dough. It also might contain stabilizers and emulsifiers to maintain an appealing texture.

If you prefer frozen custard or “French ice cream,” your favorite dessert will contain at least 10 percent milkfat and 1.4 percent egg yolk solids.

Sherbets, on the other hand, contain only 1 to 2 percent milkfat and usually a higher level of sweetening agent. Sorbets contain no dairy ingredients. Frozen yogurt, as you might guess from the name, contains cultured milk. A variety of novelty items, such as fudge bars, are available, but do not necessarily contain any dairy ingredients.

If you are watching your calorie intake, be sure to read the Nutrition Facts labels. Ice cream products vary widely. Low-fat ice cream, for example, has a maximum of 3 grams of fat per half-cup serving. Premium ice cream products are higher in fat, calories and, usually, cost.

When you buy ice cream, be sure to pick it up last and check that the ice cream package is not soft to the touch. If you select from an open freezer case, be sure the ice cream is below the freezer line. At home, don’t store your ice cream in the door and be sure that your freezer maintains a temperature of 0 degrees or lower.

Making ice cream at home is fairly simple, even if you do not have an ice cream maker. All you need is some milk, sugar and vanilla to get started. To solidify the milk mixture, you must lower the temperature below freezing (32 degrees) by surrounding the milk with a combination of salt and ice. This week’s recipe provides information about how to make ice cream in freezer bags.

Adding salt to the ice will decrease the ice temperature and cause the milk to harden and form ice cream. The only other thing you need to add is a little agitation to mix the milk while it hardens to keep a uniform flavor and texture.

Here is a fun activity for kids or adults. Keep moderation in mind, of course.


Quick and Easy Ice Cream in a Bag

½ cup 2 percent milk

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons rock or table salt

Ice

1 gallon-sized zip-top bag (heavy-duty freezer bag)

1 sandwich-sized zip-top bag (heavy-duty freezer bag)

Add milk, sugar and vanilla to the sandwich bag and seal. Mix well.

Fill the gallon-sized zip-top bag two-thirds full with ice.

Add approximately four handfuls of rock salt to the ice in the gallon-sized zip-top bag.

Place the sandwich bag containing milk, sugar and vanilla in the ice and rock salt solution. Make sure the sandwich bag is surrounded by the solution.

Close the gallon-sized zip-top bag and shake for 5 to 10 minutes or until ice cream is firm. Remove sandwich-sized bag and wipe dry. Pass around bowls and spoons to sample. Topping suggestions: in-season fruit such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries or peaches, with a drizzle of chocolate syrup.

Makes two snack-sized servings. Each serving has 90 calories, 1 gram (g) of fat, 2 g of protein, 16 g of carbohydrate and 30 milligrams of sodium.


Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.

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