De-Mystifying Ice Cream

Sure, I'm crazy about nice cream, but... let's talk ice cream.

Ice cream gets a bad rap.  It has fats in it.  It has sugar in it.  It has ingredients in it that aren't food words.  You know what else has fats and sugars?  Fruit.  We shouldn't be scared of those words- they're just types of molecules.  Our diet shouldn't consist entirely of them, but we do need to eat them to be healthy.  I'm getting off topic here- my point is, it's ok to treat yo'self.

The best ice cream I have ever had -really- is from the '55 Exchange, the student-run ice cream shop of Clemson University in South Carolina.  Rachel, a senior student of food science at Clemson and the student manager of retail operations at The '55 Exchange, gave me the scoop on their ice cream.

HAHAHA.  GAVE ME THE SCOOP.  I feel so smug.  I wonder how many times that's been used to talk about ice cream. 

Anywho.  You've met Rachel before, when I interviewed her on other fun food stuff this past December.  She told me all about the production of fantastic ice cream.
Rachel can go here, but no entrance for me past this point.  Safety and whatnot.
Ice cream is an emulsion, so making ice cream involves incorporating air pockets into the mix.  That's why 5 gallons of ice cream mix produces 10 gallons of ice cream.  (Actually, it's a double emulsion, but I haven't taken chemistry yet so I don't feel qualified to talk about it).

The mix is simple ingredients: milk, cream, sugar, and some emulsifiers/stabilizers.  Don't recoil.  Remember how ice cream is an emulsion?  Emulsifiers keep the emulsion in place.  According to Rachel, these ingredients help ice cream to keep its ice-creamy shape.

A scoop of Golden Tiger on top, a scoop of
Apple Pie hidden beneath.

The students behind the counter at '55 Exchange do more than scoop ice cream.  They're constantly coming up with new signature flavors, such as the Golden Tiger.  To make it, Rachel explained, she adds 5 gallons of the mix to a machine.  The machine churns, and Rachel adds in the flavor- in the case of the Golden Tiger, that would be caramel.  By hand, Rachel stirs in thick swirls of chocolate fudge.  She freezes the ice cream for eight minutes.  The freezer is almost -30* Celsius.  Brr.  Eight minutes later, she packages the ice cream into 3-gallon boxes.

The '55 Exchange produces about 160 gallons of ice cream each week, and let me tell you: it is thick, creamy... The kind of ice cream that melts in your mouth without coating your teeth.  This isn't a sponsored post, and I'm not trying to flatter anyone; I just really, really, like their ice cream.  I could sing praises about their blue cheese, too, but this post is about ice cream.

Although the ice cream is made just a block down from the shop, the waffle cones are cone-cocted (I hate puns) right on the back counter of the '55 Exchange.  I watched as a few were made.  "Everyone's always scared of it, but it's really easy," Rachel commented.  Just cook the waffle batter for about a minute in the machine.  When it comes out, it's pliable, so it can be pressed around a cone-shaped mold.  Because it hardens quickly, the maker has to be swift.  The result: a fresh-made waffle cone, crunchy and crumbly and ready for ice cream.

My mom's sundae in a waffle bowl.

If you're ever in Clemson, South Carolina, get yourself to the '55 Exchange and get some ice cream.  Try the Tiger Boulevard- their newest flavor- gentle vanilla decked out in swirls of sea salt cookie fudge and bedazzled with chocolate chips.  Or try the orange sorbet, Rachel's favorite.  Special thanks to her for letting me pester her with questions (again)!

Right: Golden Tiger and Apple Pie
Left: Chocolate Cookies 'n' Cream and Tiger Boulevard

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World peace and love,

Heather <3


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