Making ice cream is all about mixing and homogenizing. First you need to blend, pasteurize and standardize your mixture. Then store it in tanks and freeze and aerate the mix until it reached the right consistency. Now you can add fruits, cookies and other solids if you like. In the final step the mix goes through an air blast hardening machine and it’s ready to store and ship.
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Ice cream equipment to make that “cream” into “ice cream”
Good quality ice cream is a combination of taste and texture. You can achieve both with good ingredients and consistent processing methods. Production begins with mixing base ingredients like milk, cream, butterfat, and food additives such as stabilizers and emulsifiers. This mixture goes through a pasteurizer to remove harmful bacteria and a homogenizer to create a smooth and consistent texture. When properly homogenized, ice cream reaches that creamy texture we all crave, with flavors uniformly distributed.
From there, you can cool and age the mixture for about four to eight hours. This allows the milk fat to partially crystallize and improve its whipping properties. After the aging process, you can add other liquid flavorings. Then the mixture goes through a continuous freezer where air is mixed to make the ice cream lighter and easy to scoop. After that, you can add other bulky flavorings to the mix, like fruits, candies, cookies, etc. Once all ingredients are set, you can pour the ice cream into containers that will pass through a continuous blast air-hardening machine. Then you store it in a refrigerated facility until it is shipped.
Ice cream with a twist: dairy-free and gelato
The market has seen variations of ice cream such as dairy-free and gelato. To make dairy-free ice cream, you use milk substitutes like almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk. These substitutes, however, may not have the same chemical properties as cow’s milk. So the ingredients and formulation are different, but the process is about the same. Other ice creams like gelato are rich in egg yolk solids and have less air. You can make them without stabilizers and emulsifiers, as the egg yolk serves this purpose. Having less air also means that your gelato will have a thick and rich texture.
Ice cream in supermarkets is mass-produced, made according to manufacturer’s standards. On the other hand, there are small-scale artisan ice cream makers who have their own ratio of mixed ingredients, but the process is the same. Differences reside on smaller ice cream equipment that suits their production capacity and in increasing some manual processes.
The details that make ice cream special
Ice creams come in different shapes. They are available in plastic tubs, cups, cones, and sticks. Some novelty ice cream products have decorations such as chocolate drizzles or sugar glaze as toppings. Others are shaped like objects or patterns depending on how the product is marketed. This is mostly applicable for ice cream sandwiches or ice cream with sticks. You can opt for decorations like coatings or separate layers as well. In some cases, you can even draw complicated shapes on the product using a drizzling machine for chocolate or other flavorings.
How do you want your ice cream served?
The hardening process of ice cream is critical to the final product’s structure and appearance. With it, the product should have the same appearance and structure as it arrives at the consumer with the proper refrigeration temperature. Different packaging may have an impact on the structure with regards to rigidity of the container and rate of exposure to higher temperatures. So be mindful of the storage temperature. Ice cream packed in plastic wrappers, such as ice cream sandwiches, ice cream and stick, and ice cream with cones, is much prone to melting when exposed to higher temperatures compared to ice cream in plastic tubs with lids.