Rock Hard Ice Cream

4 Oct

I’ve made a ice cream a few times. If I eat the home made ice cream right away or on the same day then I get the consistency that I expect from ice cream – soft and creamy. However I can’t eat the quart of ice cream in one day so I need to freeze it. What I find though is that after a day in the freezer the ice cream comes out rock hard! I’ve read a few alternatives to having home-made ice cream stay soft is to used either alcohol, avocado, xanthan gum, or arrowroot starch. For the mint ice cream recipe I used avocado as one of the ingredients (maybe it wasn’t enough) and  practically needed an ice pick to chip away at the block.

So I tried to make another recipe of ice cream using xanthan gum. Actually the recipe called for arrowroot starch, but I didn’t have any in the pantry so I decided I could substitute the xanthan gum with the arrowroot starch. A knowledgeable person would have known to do a little more research to figure out if there was a 1:1 conversion of the two. Well, of course I did not and as the recipe called for 1 tablespoon of arrowroot starch, I substituted 1 tablespoon of xanthan gum. As soon as I did that, I watched 2 cans of coconut milk get clumpy. I tried whisking it quickly to try to get rid of those clumps but the mixture just congealed even more. I put it in saucepan to tried to dissolve it, but it seemed to get even more clumpy. I was about to put it in the blender and disintegrate those clumps once and for all but decided to go to the internet for some further information.

Arrowroot is not the same as xanthan gum. I only needed to use 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum in my ice cream mix not 1 tablespoon! According to eHow,  to calculate the amount of xanthan gum is the following formula: multiply the number of quarts of liquid used in the recipe by ¼ to calculate. This will be the number of teaspoons of xanthan gum needed in the recipe. From the amount of xanthan gum I put in my recipe I would have to be making 8 quarts of ice cream! I tossed that mix away and watched two perfectly good cans of coconut milk go down the drain (slowly).

I was pretty upset that I didn’t do it right, but my husband assured me that it was an honest mistake and that we just learn and move on. He was right, so I went to the store and bought another 2 cans of coconut milk and started the recipe over.

Still the next day my ice cream came out rock hard.  I found that if I leave the container out for half an hour then the ice cream gets softer and more manageable to scoop. I need some advice on how to make it less solid… help!

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3 Responses to “Rock Hard Ice Cream”

  1. Alanna October 6, 2011 at 9:59 AM #

    Making ice cream is tough, especially if you are aiming for less ingredients and free of preservatives!

    I will check out my food science lab manuals to see what they suggest.

    Hang in there, Mantousmom! You are doing great!

    (P.S. Whenever I am concocting my own recipes, I buy double the ingredients because I KNOW it will take a few attempts to get it right. Maybe plan on that to save grocery trips?)

  2. Alanna October 6, 2011 at 10:57 AM #

    So I looked for my old food science lab manuals and then I remembered that I had recycled them in my last round of garage-purging. Sorry! I did happen to find another text that was helpful: the Food Lover’s Companion. It mentioned that fat does improve the texture of the ice cream and that ice milks (which tend to have less fat and milk solids than typical ice cream has a lighter, less creamy texture) which I assume is similar to what you were making. I know that you are making a dairy-free ice cream but maybe it doesn’t have as much fat as you are accustomed to and that may be contributing to the texture on day 2 and beyond.

    Probably the more important factor in the hardness of the ice cream after freezing is the overrun percentage. This is the amount of air that an ice cream has as a finished product and can range anywhere from zero (no air) to 100 (which would mean half the carton is air). Ice cream manufacturers do not have to provide this number on the label but it is assumed that most ice creams on the market have a 20 to 50 percent overrun which would be 10 to 25% air. This would be a dense and creamy-feeling ice cream.
    The way to tell the amount overrun would be to weigh the carton. The example they give is, “Ice cream with a 50 percent overrun (25 percent air) will weigh about 10 ounces per pint (subtract about 1.5 ounces for the weight of the container). The weight of the ice cream will be proportionately higher with a lower percentage of overrun.”
    Additionally, the text did say that sealing the carton in an airtight bag may extend storage life up to a week but it’s really not a good idea to freeze the remaining ice cream for more that 3 days.

    So now that you are a food scientist, maybe try to incorporate more air into the recipe before freezing? Essentially whip it up until the volume is doubled and then try to freeze it? Or maybe ice cream should be made for same-day use?

    Good luck!

    • mantousmom October 6, 2011 at 12:37 PM #

      Thanks Alanna, the Beer Dietitian, for looking into this for me. I would think the coconut cream would provide a lot of fat but not enough? I use the disposable plastic cartons for freezing since we don’t have anything else in our place to freeze the ice cream. I may have to invest in something better. It is pretty airtight but we did try putting extra plastic wrap over it to trap out air but that didn’t work either. Also eating one batch of ice cream in one day would be nice but not for the waist line. I could just use half the recipe for one day and just keep the mix in the fridge for another day… maybe an option.

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