From Custard to Sorbet: Your Guide to Deliciously Beating the Heat
Concrete — Concretes are similar to a milkshake, but made with frozen custard. A milkshake is blended with milk, ice cream and often, a flavoring syrup; whereas a concrete is blended without milk to thin it out. Most concretes allow “mix-ins” like candy pieces. The name “concrete” came about because the finished concoction is so thick that oftentimes it’s handed to the customer upside down, without any of the treat falling out.
Frozen yogurt – Frozen yogurt is pretty much just as it sounds: yogurt that has been frozen. Fro-yo, as it’s popularly dubbed, is a frozen, quasi-solid product of milk solids and milk, plus the addition of two bacteria cultures (Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus in case you’re wondering). Popular frozen yogurt chains like Pinkberry and Red Mango offer the tangy, more traditional variety – but many companies are now sweetening and flavoring frozen yogurt so that it is more reminiscent of soft serve.
Gelato – Gelato, an Italian-style frozen dessert, is made mostly with milk, instead of both milk and cream like ice cream. Because of this, gelato has a lower fat content.Gelato is churned considerably more slowly, introducing less air and leaving the finished product with a richer, more concentrated taste.
Granita – Granita is a granular, frozen mixture of water, sugar and liquid (fruit juice, espresso, alcohol, etc.). They are typically preliminarily frozen until slushy, then stirred with a fork every hour until frozen completely. This creates its crystalline texture.
Ice cream – By Food and Drug Administration’s standards, ice cream is a frozen food churned from a base of dairy products – milk and cream – that contains at least 10 percent milkfat. However, most commercial ice creams contain closer to 20 percent milkfat. There are two key types of ice cream: custard-based or French-style ice creams and Philadelphia-style ice creams. The latter does not use egg yolks as an emulsifier. Instead – they’re made by simply mixing cream, milk, sugar and the desired flavorings together. If at least 1.4 percent of the frozen treat is egg yolk, the name by FDA regulation is technically “frozen custard,” “French ice cream” or “French custard ice cream.” Custards are typically churned with less air and served at a slightly higher temperature – so the result is denser, smoother and less icy.
Popsicle – If you freeze any type of flavored water or cream into a mold with a stick, you’ve got yourself a popsicle. Although, the more legally correct term is “ice pop” as Popsicle specifically refers to the Popsicle brand. The story goes that on a cold night in 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson accidentally left a cup of powdered soda, water and a stirring stick outside overnight. When Epperson awoke the next morning, he found the stick-in frozen treat and dubbed it the “Epsicle.” Later in his life, the frozen treat became a hit with Epperson’s own children: they constantly requested to have one of “Pop’s ‘sicles.” In 1923, Epperson officially changed the name, applied for a patent and a couple of years later, sold the rights to the Popsicle brand.
Paleta — These are Mexican water-and-fruit-based (paletas de aguas) or cream-and-fruit-based (paletas de cremas) ice pops. Oftentimes, chunks of fresh fruit are frozen into the ice pops.
Shaved ice – Here, ice is blended or “shaved” to a soft, snowy texture. A flavored syrup is then poured over the ice. In Hawaii, it is often served over a scoop of ice cream and referred to as “shave ice.”This differs from snow cones (or sno-cones), which are made with crushed ice topped with a flavored syrup instead of ice that has been literally “shaved.” Shaved ice is finer, so it absorbs the liquid poured over it more thoroughly.
Sherbet — This is not to be confused with “sherbert,” which isn’t technically a word, but the preferred pronunciation of the frozen treat by many. Unlike sorbet, sherbet does contain dairy – either milk or cream – and thus, milkfat. Under the Food and Drug Administration’s Code of Federal Regulations, the milkfat content of sherbet has to be between 1 and 2 percent – no more, no less.
Soft-serve – Unlike ice cream, soft serve is continuously churned creating its “soft” nomenclature. It is also lower in milkfat (typically in the 5 percent range). It is also produced and dispensed from the machine at a much higher temperature – also attributing to its semi-solid form.
Sorbet — This is a typically fruit-flavored ice, with no dairy products. It is often served as dessert, but can also be served as a palate cleanser between courses or, as with vegetable- or herb-flavored varieties, as a savory complement to a dish.
Water ice – For all intents and purposes, water ice and Italian ice are the same thing – just referred to differently depending on the region of the country you’re currently in. Water ice is specifically regional to Philadelphia – and some locals will argue that their water ices are less compacted than the Italian variety. The Philadelphia Water Ice Factory compares its mouthfeel to a “hand scooped smoothie.”Water/Italian ice is different from shave(d) ice in that all the components and flavors are mixed together before being frozen, instead of being added on top of the ice before serving.