MILKS – the basis of most frozen desserts, vegan and conventional.
cow milk is the conventional base of most ice creams and produces a consistent product. It is widely available, inexpensive and comes in a variety of forms: heavy cream, ½ + ½ , whole, 2%, 1% and skim (nonfat). A number of yogurts are also widely available to the average consumer, including plain, flavored and Greek-style. Not acceptable for vegans or the lactose intolerant.
goat, sheep and waterbuffalo milks are available in limited varieties in many natural food stores and large supermarkets. The smaller selection of grades is largely irrelevant to ice cream production, as whole milk provides adequate fat for most recipes. Yogurts produced from these milks also make frozen yogurt a possibility. Not acceptable for vegans. Goat milk is acceptable for some lactose intolerant.
soy milk and soy creamer can be effectively combined to take the place of animal milk in many recipe conversions. While a “plain” flavor creamer is available, all are as yet sweetened, a factor that can be compensated for by reducing added sugar in converted recipes. The stabilizers in both soy milk and soy creamer mimic the thickness of animal milk well and produce a smooth mouth feel when churned correctly. Acceptable for vegans and the lactose intolerant.
almond, hemp, oat, and rice milks can be used in addition to other, higher fat milks to produce a smooth, rich ice cream. The combination is essential, as their individual qualities are generally thin. These milks generally have distinct flavors that can be used well to enhance the flavors of the complete recipe. Acceptable for vegans and the lactose intolerant.
coconut milk is usable in ice cream both on its own and in combination with other milks, dairy or non-dairy that have low fat content. To utilize the coconut fat best, refrigerate the milk in its can overnight. Skim the thick white milk from the top and use in ice cream batter; put the clear coconut water to other use. Coconut milk has a distinct flavor which works well on its own and in concert with other flavors in recipes. Acceptable for vegans and the lactose intolerant.
EMULSIFIERS – contribute to the richness and smoothness of ice cream products. Overuse of any emulsifier can result in an uncomfortable inhibition of melting in ice cream products.
eggs are a v basic emulsifier used in traditional European ice cream recipes. Yolks not only being batters together, but also contribute to richness and smoothness with their high fat content. Egg whites are sometimes used in gelatos and cooked ice creams, and contribute a lightness as well as a closeness of texture to the products their used in. Not acceptable for vegans.
plant gums (guar or agar), xanthan gum (produced from the dead husks of specific bacteria), and plant starches (tapioca, corn, potato, arrowroot) are excellent stand-ins for eggs in dairy or non-dairy ice creams. Soy Lecithin is also a good option, but is less widely avaible. These should be used in moderation, according to set ratios, as many are unaccustomed to their texture. Acceptable for vegans.
FAT CONTENT – contributes to richness, flavor. Too high a fat content can result in a displeasing grainy, globular texture in ice cream products; too low a fat content can result in a too-hard, thin-flavored product.
Whole milks, coconut milk, egg yolks can all be used to increase fat content in ice creams. Pure cocoa butter, used properly is also excellent for this purpose. Whole milk and egg yolks are not acceptable for vegans; coconut milk and pure, certified vegan cocoa butter are acceptable for vegans.
SWEETENERS – contribute to flavor and are a hallmark of frozen desserts.
Granulated sugar, evaporated cane juice and raw (demeraro) sugar are the most commonly used sweeteners and can be use interchangeable in recipes. The latter two contribute a richness of flavor due to their molasses content and are acceptable for vegans. The first (granulated sugar) has a light, unobtrusive flavor and is not acceptable for vegans. Similar to granulated sugar in flavor and sweetness is beet sugar, which is acceptable for vegans.
Agave Nectar – excellent in recipes designed to showcase its unique smoothness and flavor. Use in place of other liquid sweeteners. Acceptable for vegans.