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French Ice Cream: Explained

French Ice Cream: Explained
french ice cream custard

Are you wondering what the difference between French ice cream and American ice cream is? The quickest and simplest answer is egg yolks or the lack thereof.

If you’re quite familiar with American (Philadelphia-style) ice cream, you know it isn’t very thick and attracts ice crystals like barbecues attract flies. Many of our store-bought containers of ice cream are created the same way: with milk, cream, and sugar. The consistency can seem “flaky” upon the second opening of the container. The “flakiness,” if you can understand what I mean by that, is more easily avoided with French-style ice cream.

French ice cream consists of egg yolks, sugar, cream, and milk. The purpose of the egg yolks is custard.

With our beloved American ice cream, common at cookouts and get-togethers, heat is not required for its creation. We simply churn our ingredients (milk, cream, sugar) together by hand or machine (to avoid freezer burn during storage). Toss in a little rock salt for extra “softness” and voilà – ice cream!

Now, if you’re tired of having to let your ice cream soften up before eating it a second or third time, French-style ice cream will be your new hero. I have never attempted to make French ice cream myself and can’t comfortably tell you how to make the perfect batch. Learn some useful techniques here. It has apparently taken much of the world by storm and is the “hottie” of the ice cream group. (Excuse that horrible pun, I just couldn’t resist). You and I aren’t the only ones who wish to enjoy creamy, thick ice cream more than once per container. Even many of our store-bought brands are switching methods!

Are you starting to wonder if French-style ice cream is the same as gelato (Italian-style ice cream) now? You’re not far off! They are composed of the same ingredients, with different measurements. Whereas French ice cream is thick and “heavy” due to its custard base, gelato is a little “breezier” because milk is its main ingredient. I think it’s a fun idea to try making all three kinds of ice creams this summer!

If you have an ice cream machine, and even if you don’t, and have two or three summer functions to go to (such as reunions, cookouts, end of/back to school parties), show up with ice cream! Take your own tally and see which style your loved ones love most!

In my opinion, the French ice cream would win by a landslide. But then again, I really don’t have a lot of friends I’ve seen enjoying ice cream… Maybe that’s why, though, they haven’t tried French-style ice cream or gelato!

You can pick fresh, edible berries to add to the custard-based ice cream once it’s chilled for a while. You can add different toppings and flavors you don’t have access to in the frozen food section. Seriously, if you’ve ever hesitated to make homemade ice cream before, I don’t think there’s a good reason not to attempt it anymore. (Unless dairy is forbidden from your diet, of course). I can’t wait to share this information with my stepdad and see if we can’t make some delicious French ice cream of our own!

About Brittany Davidson

Brittany is the main writer and content creator for Food Questions. She believes life is worth living if you're constantly learning, enjoying, and admiring things. Passion is her backbone and she tries not to do anything without it. Sharing information is as valuable as sharing a smile, Brittany says.

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