Food & Drink Magazine

What Ingredients Are Truly In Ice Cream?

By Icecreamed


So I was minding my own business a few weeks ago, just laying around being a couch potato, my eyes glued to the pages of Clean by Alejandro Junger and he had the nerve to write in his book what I was already learning from Michael Pollan with the help of a few documentaries — that pretty much all our food is corn. Now, this wasn’t as shocking or upsetting as when I first learned this only one year prior whilst reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, but Mr. Junger here, in his sterile white doctor’s lab coat and wickedly charming smile, was asking me to go down to my kitchen and find something in my pantry, freezer, fridge or countertop that didn’t have some form of corn in it. Challenge eh? I was bored and up for it. I ran down the stairs faster than a spoiled brat on Christmas morning, confident my healthy lifestyle would reveal purity at its greatest. Well, low and behold my gosh darn hot cocoa had everything but cocoa, my salad dressing had corn chemicals that really have no business on my salad, and my freaking ice cream had more than a dozen forms of corn! Yeah, ice cream…had corn in it….all through it and around it. There was the corn syrup, who had to bring along its brother high fructose corn syrup (oh, because one kind isn’t enough!) along with dextrose used to thicken that bad boy up (because cheap simple corn starch is probably way too expensive for the creamery conglomerates these days) with some help from xantham gum that is a thickening bacteria agent that they feed corn syrup to get all sweet and goopy and of course hydrogenated vegetable oils to fatten your butt right up.

Just some wholesome ingredients like cream, egg yolks, sugar, and pure vanilla, right? Think again. And what’s even sadder, is that just a few minutes ago while fact checking this very post, I learned beloved Breyer’s (I personally haven’t eaten it in a decade, but its America’s sweetheart ice cream nonetheless) now has something called frozen dessert. Seriously, go to the frozen section and see with your own eyes. Its a big beautiful carton, just like any other, with a flavor blazoned on the front, but at the bottom in tiny, tiny pharmaceutical-side-effect-disclaimer-tiny letters it reads “Frozen Dessert”. Why? Because they are trying to move past making actual ice cream and concoct oil-based, cream-free junk that passes as ice cream instead. And poor little shoppers don’t even know what hit them. You can’t even tell. The power of packaging.

When any one of us gets home, content with our home cooked meal; ready to dig into a big bowl of ice cream, we wrinkle our nose in distaste when something seems a bit funky. Of course, simple folk would never guess they stuffed their face with propylene glycol, ethyl acetate, and yellow dye #5, because the average person never dare dream to read the ingredients in ice cream, the one thing we’re sure is just milk and sugar whipped up in heavenly bliss. Seems the recipe has changed a bit since Mary Poppin days though.

Many commercial ice creams today are simply chemical concoctions presented in appealing packaging designed to sell a product that is not fit for human consumption but still allowed to be called ice cream, all with approval from the government of course. And when I say not fit for humans, I literally mean it might have recalled dog food substances and most recently, the anus of a sea creature. Yeah. You’re eating fish ass.

How about a side of insult to your intelligence on top of all this? Not only do ice cream makers use the cheapest crap they can find, corn being the star ingredient, but then they have the audacity to overwhip air into the mixture, doubling the volume of your carton, but still selling it for almost ten bucks these days. I can’t be the only one that only buys ice cream on sale, that’s how ridiculous the prices have gotten…but the taste is no better. It’s probably just the diethyl glycol though, a cheap chemical used to take the place of eggs, which is also used in anti-freeze and paint removers. Yummy!Oh, and lest we not forget aldehyde C-17, a flavoring for cherry ice cream, which is an inflammable liquid used in dyes, plastics, and rubber. Piperonal, used in place of vanilla, is what you’ll use to kill your baby’s head lice when the time comes. And what do you know, Eethyl Acetate, a delicious pineapple flavor, helps to make those leather shoes your husband wears shinier than a new car with eethyl acetate paint. Whatever the hubby wants right, but I doubt he wants chronic lung, liver, and heart damage.

You know, every time I’m at home craving ice cream and not too lazy to make my own, I also whip out my mono and diglicerides, disodium phosphate, benzyl acetate, mono stearate, propylene glycol, sodium benzoate, polysorbate 80, potassium sorbate, modified corn starch and soy lecithin. So why should I complain? Well, if you’re like me and miss the good old days where real raw cream, egg yolks, and pure vanilla was the source of some healthy fat, calcium, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals, then I suggest you find ONE trusted brand of ice cream at your local grocer and stick to that. Think of it as your new spouse — never cheat. I’ve done some dirty work for you already and taste tested, researched, and approved two brands you can start with that are now being sold nationally (I would throw in Talenti gelato which I adore, but still scoping them out!). First is Sheer Bliss which I ate happily (Cream, Milk, Cane Sugar, Nonfat Dry Milk, Pure Cocoa Powder, Guar Gum, Carob Bean Gum) and boasts every flavor from vanilla pomegranate to antioxidant rich dark chocolate. My only pet peeve is that they dig their own grave by adding carrageenan which is as wholesome as MSG for all intents and purposes, but it sure beats out Breyer’s and Friendly’s any day. I could do without the slight metallic aftertaste you get from the first bite, but its robust and creamy and comes in a wonderful reusable tin. My favorite and most absolute trusted friend when in a bind would have to be the relatively affordable and easy to find Stonyfield Organic (Cultured Pasteurized Organic Nonfat Milk, Naturally Milled Organic Sugar, Organic Nonfat Dry Milk, Organic Rice Syrup, Carob Bean Gum, Guar Gum, Organic Vanilla Flavor, Annatto Extract). It’s supremely rich, utterly creamy beyond belief, and tastes like homemade. And you know what? The cows are happy too, as I have personally exchanged words with some of the farmers undercover. So here’s a coupon to get you on your way. Save a buck and save that fat ass!Speaking of fat, for goodness sakes, stop worrying about lowfat this and nonfat that. Life is about simple pleasures. Stop depriving yourself of them. It’s some of those dubious vegetable oils you should be concerned about. Next time, forgo the antifreeze, oil paint, leather cleaner, and lice killer for something that resembles food. And when in doubt, buy local (if you can honestly say there is no creamery, artisan, or ethically produced ice cream in your town, we need to meet) or make your own. Investing in an ice cream machine will save your life, honestly. My recipe for fancy schmancy cheesecake flavor is here, or this recipe by David Lebowitz featuring the highly praised Jeni from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream should be your staple chocolate ice cream recipe, and while you’re at it, get to know all that David knows and be the creamery pro in your kitchen, because seriously, can David ever steer you wrong? Bon appétit.What is your fave ice cream brand these days? Do you try to get to know where your ingredients come from?

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