Ever wondered why some ice creams are creamier than others, even when they contain the same amount of cream? The American Chemical Society recently teamed up with American University’s Matthew Hartings to figure out this crucial information.
"What you’re doing when you make creamy ice cream is you control the size of ice crystals in your ice cream," Hartings says in the video above. Essentially, the bigger the crystals, the harder and crunchier the ice cream. That’s why lovers of creamy ice cream strive to keep their crystals as small as possible—and there are a few ways to do that.
One option is to use an emulsifier (such as egg yolks), which keeps the fat and water in the ice cream well-mixed. “These two substances naturally want to separate,” the video’s narrator says. “If they separate like middle school kids at a dance, the water molecules will hang out by themselves on one side and will be more likely to form the large crystals upon freezing, due to their interactions.”
Read: If your ice cream isn’t creamy enough, try adding an emulsifier.
Another option, if you have been up to your ears in egg yolks, yet are still kvetching about wanting a creamier product, is to quicken the pace of those water molecules freezing. “If you freeze your ice crystals very quickly and very rapidly, you get lots of little tiny crystals,” Hastings says.
=To prove his point, he whips up a batch of ice cream with liquid nitrogen. It quickly freezes the water molecules in his ice cream mixture, yielding a silky-smooth product.
With the first day of summer just around the bend, ice cream season is definitely already upon us. And if you’re anything like us, you’ll be tearing out the door in search of liquid nitrogen (careful out there!) after watching this video.