Ice cream is popular: in Germany, everyone consumes an average of more than eight liters a year. Ice cream is offered in more than 70 flavors – as milk ice cream, water ice cream, fruit sorbet, or frozen yogurt. The most popular varieties are vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Ice cream is a very sensitive food because it consists of perishable ingredients such as milk, cream, yogurt, egg, or chopped fruit and because failures in the cold chain can lead to hygiene problems.
Additives in ice cream
Some manufacturers use additives to affect the appearance and taste of ice cream:
- Some ingredients change the freezing point so that the ice cream stays creamy.
- Emulsifiers ensure that chocolate coating does not melt immediately. They can often be felt as a greasy film on the tongue. But emulsifiers can burden digestion and lead to abdominal pain.
- If a certain taste is achieved exclusively with aromas, the manufacturer must indicate this with information such as “with raspberry taste” or “with raspberry aroma”.
- Dyes must also be declared with a note (“with dye”). If the ice cream contains so-called azo dyes (e.g. E102, E104, E110, E122, E124, or E129), the additional note “May impair activity and attention in children” is required.
- The 14 most important allergens must also be specified.
While industrially produced ice cream from the supermarket bears the instructions on the packaging, in ice cream parlors they can usually be found on signs next to the ice cream, on notice, or on information cards.
Lots of sugar and fat in ice cream
Ice cream is usually not an easy treat: for example, two scoops of chocolate ice cream already have 240 calories. This is mainly due to the sugar and the high-fat content:
- Sugar inhibits freezing and thus ensures that ice cream does not become too solid.
- Fat provides a creamy, fluffy consistency.
- Since vegetable fats are cheap and usually tasteless, manufacturers can also influence the taste of their products in any desired direction. However, they require more flavorings when using vegetable fat.
- Coconut fat, which contains a lot of saturated fatty acids and sometimes rather unhealthy trans fats, is used particularly often.
- Sorbets contain less fat than dairy ice cream, but sorbets with citrus fruits often contain a lot of sugar.
Recognize high-quality and fresh ice cream
High-quality ice cream has a smooth surface and appears creamy. If it’s crumbly, that’s a sign it’s older and has been thawed a second time. This can be problematic because germs can multiply. Salmonella, for example, can also spread in ice that is not sufficiently chilled and therefore very soft.
Strikingly light ice cream can indicate that the fruit content is too low, while very strong shades of color can indicate the use of coloring agents.
Good ice cream tastes aromatic but neither too sweet nor artificial. If the ice cream looks unnaturally creamy, this indicates the use of additives and fat.
Reduce sugar: sweeten with fruit
Making fresh ice cream yourself is not difficult. An ice cream maker is useful for this, but you can also do without it. In order for the ice cream to be nice and creamy, it must be stirred regularly – about every 30 minutes – during the freezing process.
To reduce the sugar content of ice cream, birch sugar or stevia can be used as alternative sweeteners. Stevia has been approved as a calorie-free sweetener in the EU since 2011 and has about 300 times the sweetening power of sugar. You can also do without sugar or reduce it significantly if you sweeten the ice cream naturally with sweet, ripe fruit. Then it is particularly refreshing.