Courtesy of Amy Ettinger, author of Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across America

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EC: 3 Important Things to Know About Making Ice Cream
Credit: photo by Jonathan Knowles via getty images

It’s July and impossibly hot outside, which means many people are going HAM on ice cream. Ice cream is a classic summer treat, but one that contains many mysteries; in fact, there’s probably a lot of stuff you don’t know about ice cream. But thanks to brave and very important ice cream research conducted by Amy Ettinger, the author of Sweet Spot: An Ice Cream Binge Across America, we can vastly increase our ice cream knowledge. In her book, Ettinger gets the scoop on our love affair with ice cream—she even attended an ice cream boot camp to learn from the pros. Now we can all get caught up on what’s behind the ultimate summer dessert.

In a recent interview with Popular Science, Ettinger explains one of the key things to know about ice cream if you’re going to make it at home yourself. Always freeze the ice cream drum! While this is an obvious point for anyone who has made ice cream at home more than once, Ettinger says she tried to make ice cream while her machine’s drum was room temp. Heads up: This will create sweet soup, not ice cream.

For those of us who prefer to buy our ice cream from the store, Ettinger learned some surprising information about how ice cream is made. Apparently there are so many laws about how ice cream must be prepared (to prevent listeria outbreaks, primarily), that most ice cream brands aren’t actually making their own ice cream bases.

Ettinger also explains why powdered milk is so important in ice cream. In her research, Ettinger found that a lot of ice cream makers have an issue with using powdered milk, but she says that it is essential for absorbing extra liquid (milk is mostly water, after all), and staving off ice crystals that can ruin an otherwise great batch of ice cream.

All of these tasty insights are definitely some food for thought while enjoying your next cone.