My adventures with making ice cream. And eating it, too.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Free Ice Cream

I recently had a great run of free ice cream.

A few weeks ago, some group had an ice cream social in the Capitol. Sure, it was only Edy's but it was still free ice cream. A few days later, UConn had an ice cream social for some reason or other and had ice cream from their dairy bar. The following Thursday, the young farmers of Connecticut or some group like that had an informational ice cream social, which included ice cream from Tulmeadow Farm, which is just terrific.

Then, my sisters-in-law shipped me 10 pints of Kopp's Frozen Custard for my birthday. It's great stuff. Plus, getting ice cream in the mail is incredible.

This past weekend, there was Friendly's free ice cream afternoon. That was followed by an ice cream social at a local hardware store down the street from me. They had ice cream from Robb's, a farm in town that makes their own ice cream from their own eggs and cream.

Good times.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ice Cream Party 2009

The theme for the ice cream party this year was ice creams vs. sorbets. I enjoy them both and they each have their positives and negatives. I was curious to see if one would come out consistently ahead of the other. In three cases, I made comparable products. In three cases, I made similar but not completely comparable products for a variety of reasons. In one case, I made a sorbet without making a comparable ice cream.

Now to crib from last year’s report (with a few modifications).

Every participant received a small sample of the same ice cream at the same time. In almost all cases, the ice cream and the sorbet paired together were served together. No one was told what flavor the ice cream or sorbet was until everyone had formed an opinion.

Ice creams were scored in three categories. The first was appearance, ranging from one to three, with three being the best. The second was texture, ranging from one to five. The third was taste, which ranged from one to 10. This weighting reflects my own opinion about ice cream. The scores below in the appearance, texture, taste, and total columns are all averages.

There were 13 flavors. So, the rank goes from 1 to 13 (one being the best) based on the average total score. The max and min scores show the high and low total scores for the flavor. The range is the difference between the high and the low and shows the variety of opinion in the group.

1A Tomato Basil Ice Cream
1B Tomato Sorbet

flavor appearance texture taste total rank Max Min Range
tomato 2.4 4.0 6.4 12.1 11 17.5 5.0 12.5
tomato sorbet 1.9 1.9 3.2 6.6 13 17.0 3.0 14.0

I’ve been meaning to make a tomato sorbet for a while although I’m not sure why. I found a recipe that seemed to be what I was looking for and yielded about a half-gallon. I looked and looked and finally found a tomato ice cream recipe that seemed interesting. It called for using basil to flavor the base.

To be fair, I did skip the one teaspoon of sugar the sorbet recipe called for because I was out of sugar at that moment. That aside, the sorbet was a complete disaster. It seemed to refuse to melt even a little bit so that it could be scooped. It had to be scraped instead. It was almost universally reviled. It had an acidic taste. A late-comer refused to try it. However, one person on Day 2 did really enjoy it and asked if I could bring her the leftovers when it was convenient.

People thought the ice cream was pretty good but maybe there was too much basil flavor, which I agree with. It did have a nice texture. The color was much, much lighter than I hoped it would be. It was barely pink.

2A Blueberry Ice Cream
2B Blueberry-banana Sorbet

flavor appearance texture taste total rank Max Min Range
blueberry 2.8 4.3 7.8 14.9 4 18.0 13.0 5.0
blueberry-banana sorbet 2.8 3.6 7.2 13.6 9 16.0 10.0 6.0

I had intended to make a strawberry-blueberry sorbet to go with the blueberry ice cream but I lost my strawberries in a dreadful freezer accident. So, blueberry-banana (and a different recipe) it was. In retrospect, it wasn’t a great recipe; there was a bit too much banana flavor and made it a little unbalanced.

They were both a deep purple, although the sorbet was a bit deeper and yet brighter at the same time. As much as I liked the ice cream, I’m a bit surprised that it was ranked 4th behind only the peanut butter ice cream and the pair of chocolates.

3A Burnt Orange Ice Cream
3B Blood Orange Sorbet

flavor appearance texture taste total rank Max Min Range
burnt orange 2.3 3.9 6.6 12.8 10 18.0 8.0 10.0
blood orange sorbet 2.9 4.1 7.7 14.6 5 18.0 5.0 13.0

I made blood orange ice cream previously. Not surprisingly, it curdled and was awful. Just as there’s no crying in baseball, there’s no diary in sorbet and that makes it ideal for citrus flavors. I love blood oranges and I had to make this as a sorbet.

I loved the color of the sorbet, it had great texture, and it tasted like Heaven – a burst of bright citrus flavor. I’m not sure if it was anything more than the personal taste of those involved but it scored a couple points better (which is a lot) on average on Day 2 vs. Day 1.

I paired it with burnt orange ice cream. The recipe gets around the curdling problem by baking the oranges – first unpeeled and covered in butter and sugar and then cut open. The oranges are then pureed in a food processor and forced through a strainer (hours of fun!). It sat in the fridge over night before being mixed with the dairy and sitting in the fridge overnight again. It turned out to be a brownish-orange and it’s fairly unappetizing color (it received among the lowest appearance scores) but the taste balances the orange and the dairy pretty well and there’s also a caramel taste due to all of the burnt sugar.

4 Mt. Dew Sorbet

flavor appearance texture taste total rank Max Min Range
Mt Dew sorbet 1.9 2.7 5.9 10.4 12 15.0 5.0 10.0

I’d meant to make this with Mountain Dew Throwback (which features real sugar instead of the current version’s high fructose corn syrup), but I was happy enough making it out of the regular stuff. I added a little bit of corn syrup, hoping to aid the texture but other than that just put it in the ice cream machine as is. In the container, it has the expected bright yellowish color. I don’t understand why but that did not come across in the small samples served to guests (thus the awful appearance score). Also, very little flavor showed up in the samples and I’m sure that’s not a coincidence.

I thought it was interesting that some people got lemon, some people got lime, and some people got both.

The flavor was universally praised by the four kids in attendance even before I told them it was Mt. Dew. After I told them, well, they were ecstatic.

5A Peanut Butter Ice Cream
5B Peanut Butter Sorbet

flavor appearance texture taste total rank Max Min Range
peanut butter 2.6 4.8 9.0 16.4 1 18.0 12.0 6.0
peanut butter sorbet 2.3 3.7 7.7 13.7 8 17.0 10.0 7.0

During the planning stage, I thought this would be one of two pairs that would best demonstrate the difference between ice cream and sorbet and I think that’s about what happened. The ice cream came from an excellent recipe from the incomparable David Lebovitz. The sorbet recipe came from … somewhere. I know I didn’t make up the recipe but I’m not recalling where it was I found it but it wasn’t easy to find. Both recipes called for whatever the opposite of natural peanut butter is called (unnatural? non-natural?) and I used Skippy for both.

The ice cream was smooth and full of peanut butter flavor. It was perfect on its own and also a ready partner for hot fudge or chocolate ice cream.

The sorbet wasn’t quite as smooth and not quite as full of peanut butter flavor. Some seemed to think it had a nuttier flavor than peanut butter.

6A Pineapple Ice Cream
6B Pineapple Sorbet

flavor appearance texture taste total rank Max Min Range
pineapple 2.8 3.9 7.8 14.4 6 18.0 6.0 12.0
pineapple sorbet 2.8 3.6 7.5 13.9 7 17.0 9.0 8.0

This was another (almost) direct comparison. The ice cream, again because of the curdling that occurs in the battle of Dairy vs. Fresh Citrus, uses canned pineapple. Canned pineapple is cooked and doesn’t curdle the cream. When it came out of the ice cream maker, it was just so light and fluffy I was tempted to remake it the day of the party and serve it like that. As it was, it has a pretty nice texture that was only interrupted by the occasional chunk I couldn’t manage to strain out using a mesh strainer. A few partygoers thought they detected coconut in this flavor. One nice comment was that it reminded someone of childhood.

The sorbet used fresh pineapple (it was the first time I’d taken apart a fresh pineapple and I was pleased with how easy it was) and it showed. It had a fresher, cleaner, brighter taste (to me, anyway). The texture was a little icier than the ice cream and also had a few smallish chunks.

7A Chocolate Ice Cream
7B Chocolate Sorbet

flavor appearance texture taste total rank Max Min Range
chocolate 2.8 4.7 8.9 16.4 2 18.0 14.0 4.0
chocolate sorbet 2.9 4.6 8.7 16.2 3 18.0 13.0 5.0

This was the other flavor I had in mind when deciding on the theme. I used my favorite chocolate ice cream recipe, an eggless one from David Lebovitz and a chocolate sorbet recipe from (um, I’m blanking on where it came from, might’ve beed Lebovitz, might’ve been Emily Luchetti’s “A Passion for Ice Cream”) As you can see by the scores, people loved both almost equally. The ice cream was praised for having a rich, almost pudding-like texture and an intense chocolate taste. The sorbet was praised for having a nice bitter-chocolate taste although a few people thought it had an odd or off after-taste.

Final Tally

type w/tomato w/o tomato
ice creams 13.9 15.0
sorbets 13.0 14.4

Sorbet beat ice cream just once (the blood orange was judged better than the burnt orange ice cream) and came within a few tenths with chocolate and pineapple. Really, that’s about what I expected. I really like some sorbets but I love ice creams.

About Me

I live in Connecticut, which results in a nice assortment of fresh fruits in the summer. I can afford all of this ice cream on a caloric basis because I enjoy long-distance running.