Ice Cream– From Cow to Cone


  • 30 minutes– the time it takes to make ice cream
  • Many components go into the liquid mixture
  • Extra parts added when mixture is frozen
Dairy Cow, USDA public domain

Dairy Cow, USDA public domain

Thirty minutes is all the time it takes to turn a liquid mixture into the frosty dessert we know as ice cream, according to Jessica Monteiro (a Dairy Science Sophomore at Cal Poly).

But how do we get to that point in the ice cream making process?  Clearly, the process all starts with dairy cows. 

 “Federal regulations state that ice cream must have at least 10 percent milk fat, the single most crucial ingredient.”—International Dairy Foods Association

The milk that comes from the cows at various dairies must be pasteurized in order to make it safe for consumption.  Pasteurization is a process which is designed to kill all of the pathogenic, or disease-causing, bacteria in the milk.  Once this is done, the milk is placed in stainless steel storage containers to be transported to different companies.

The ice cream companies decide which flavors they think will be most successful, and then they get to work on creating the ice cream we buy in stores. 

“Companies use heavy cream and milk to make the product.  They use whole milk because it gives the ice cream a richer taste.”—Jessica Monteiro

To this mixture they ad flavorings and sweeteners.  The sweeteners range from cane sugar, beet sugars, corn sweeteners or honey.  Also, according to the International Dairy Foods Association, some plant derivatives are used as stabilizers in ice cream mixtures so as to keep the ice cream from forming ice crystals (this would take away from the smoothness of the product they are trying to sell).

Cal Poly Ice Cream at Campus Market

Cal Poly Ice Cream at Campus Market

Once the mixture is made to the specifications set out by each company, the ice cream mix is placed in the ice cream freezers.  These freezers are designed to whip a certain amount of air into the mix at the time it is frozen.  This keeps the ice cream from being as hard as a rock (information taken from Cal Poly’s Dairy Science 230 Lab).

When the mixture comes out of the freezer it is a soft-serve type of product.  At this point, different kinds of fruit, nuts, candies or whatever extra materials the company wants to add to the ice cream are added.  Adding them too soon could result in sogginess or other problems.

Then, the product is packaged into the cartons we recognize at the grocery store, and those cartons are placed in the hardening room for storage until it is time to sell them.  The hardening room is kept at a constant -35 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Now when you buy your next carton of chocolate chip cookie dough, you’ll be able to say that you know what when into making it!


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by LeeGrayson on October 18, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Your blog looks great:! The video camera works really well. Can’t wait to see your blop about lavender. I think you should do olives… on the fruit and one on oil.


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