A picture of a bowl of chocolate ice cream, served on a table.
Ice cream

One of Australia’s most popular desserts


About 70% of the ingredients in ice cream come from milk, although mixes often contain natural ingredients like sugar and fruit.  

Small quantities of stabilisers, flavours, colourings and emulsifiers may also be added to enhance flavour, texture or appearance.

There are no added preservatives as ice cream is preserved naturally by freezing. As it freezes, the mixture is whipped and blended to give its smoothness.

 

Ice cream has several natural ingredients


  • Milk fat, which is added as cream, butter or pure milk fat, and the higher the milk fat content the richer the ice cream
  • Non-fat milk solids, nutritional milk proteins and lactose (milk sugar) give body and smoothness - other milk solids include vitamins and essential minerals like calcium
  • Cane sugar (sucrose) or glucose syrups are added to sweeten and enhance flavour, while also lowering the temperature at which ice cream freezes and melts
  • Flavourings e.g. chocolate, vanilla, fruit, nut, toffee and liqueur
  • Stabilisers (e.g. gelatin or vegetable gums), approved by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), are used as modifying agents to control the size of ice crystals and give a uniform, smooth consistency, as well as control the melting rate
  • Emulsifiers, such as lecithin from egg yolks or synthetic glyceryl monosaturates, improve whipping qualities by making sure the milk fat remains evenly distributed
  • The “overrun”, which is the amount of air in the ice cream, helps achieve the desired texture
  • Colourings, which are also regulated by FSANZ
  • Types of ice cream

    Regular ice cream

    Regular ice cream has no less than 10% milk fat.

    Reduced fat ice cream

    Reduced fat ice cream is approximately 7% fat. 

    Low-fat ice cream

    Low-fat ice cream is no more than 3% milk fat. 

    Soft-ice cream

    Soft-serve ice cream is aerated and frozen immediately before sale to make a frozen but fluid ice cream. 

    Gelato

    Strictly speaking, gelato always has some dairy component, otherwise it's a sorbetto (sorbet) or granita. More generally, gelato refers to frozen ice desserts ranging from granita and sorbetto to semi-freddo. 

    How is ice cream made?


    Commercial ice cream is made with six steps:

    1. Milk, cream, milk solids, sugars, modifying agents and flavourings are blended together in stainless steel vats.
    2. The mix is homogenised to create a consistent texture.
    3. The mix is pasteurised by heating at 82-85°C for 15 seconds then cooled to destroy bacteria.
    4. The mix is left alone for 2-24 hours so fat globules solidify and viscosity increases. Flavours or colourings are added.
    5. The mix is frozen (at about -7°C) and beaten (or ‘agitated’). This adds air to the mix.
    6. The ice cream is moulded, packaged and frozen at around -25°C to allow it to harden.

    Making ice cream at home follows a similar process. You can use an ice cream machine to “stir freeze” the mix, which whips in air while the mix freezes.

    "Stir freezing" is the method of stirring the mixture by hand a number of times during the freezing period to achieve a smooth texture. Partially frozen mixtures can be stirred in an electric mixer or food processor, though it needs to be processed quickly and returned to the freezer in between.


    Ice cream nutritional information


    Type per 100g  Proteing 
    (g)
    Fat
    (g)
    Carbohydrate
    (g)
    Energy 
    (kJ)
    Calcium
    (mg)
     Standard Vanilla  2.1 5.9 11.5 447 52
     Reduced-Fat Vanilla 1.9 1.5 16.0 351 51
     Gelato 2.2 2.6 26.9 570 36