In its simplest form, ice cream or ice cream is a frozen food that is usually made from dairy products such as milk or cream, often in combination with fruits or other ingredients and flavors. It is usually sweetened with sugar, flavorings, sweeteners or honey. Typically, other ingredients such as egg yolks, nuts, fruits, chocolate, cookies, nuts, yogurt and substances that stabilized it are added.

Ice cream is a variant of ice cream and since 1 July 2009 contains at least 5% milk fat in the Netherlands. Previously, at least 8% ice cream had to consist of milk fat. Ice cream is a protected designation in the Netherlands under the Commodities Act.

Other varieties of ice cream are: milk ice cream (2.5% milk fat), Italian ice cream (lightly beaten water ice cream without lots of fruit puree or fruit juices), granite (hard fruit ice cream based on sugar syrup) and parfait (an airy variant of ice cream). Gelato looks like ice cream, but has a different composition.


Although the term ice cream is sometimes used to identify frozen desserts in general, it is usually reserved for those frozen desserts made with a high percentage of milk fat. Typical definitions for frozen desserts are as follows:

  • Frosted whipped cream, cream ice cream, creamy ice cream, waffle, butter: any frozen dessert with various percentages of dairy or vegetable fat. This percentage of fat may vary, according to the regulations of each country. For example: Argentina more than 6%, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela between 8% and 10%, Mexico, United States more than 10%.
  • Ice cream: with less than 10% milk fat and less sugar or sweeteners.
  • Frozen custard: with more than 10% milk fat and has egg yolk. Considered a type of ice cream due to the high fat content.
  • Sorbet: usually made with fruit juice or puree and without milk fat.
  • Water ice cream: No dairy, water, sugars and fruits or flavors. In some countries a certain amount of milk is allowed.
  • Pop or Granita: made with finely crumbled ice, to which some essence, fruit juice or alcoholic beverage is added. A variant of the latter is called in Venezuela, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama and scraped Mexico, in which an ice block that is scraped in a manual machine is used. The crumbled ice obtained in this way is added essences with dyes or fruit juices and sold in street stalls.

Many countries regulate the use of these terms based on specific percentage amounts of the ingredients. Ice creams are presented in a wide variety of flavors, often with aggregates such as chips or pieces of chocolate, nuts, dried fruits, fruit, etc. Some of the most popular flavors in supermarkets are vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, lemon, and cream.

Basically we can have three qualities of ice cream in the market:

  • Industrial Ice Creams: Ice creams made in industrial plants whose elaboration are artificial colors, flavorings and stabilizers to enhance their appearance and flavor. It is an ice cream with a lot of built-in air. Due to its mass production, it is one of the most economical.
  • Melted ice cream: They are ice cream when they are no longer cold enough to maintain their usual shape, so they are in liquid form.
  • Artisan ice creams: They are made in small factories, basically with manual procedures. In its elaboration only fresh products are used and, unlike industrial ice cream, no artificial flavorings, colorants, or preservatives are used. They have much less built-in air and a very creamy appearance. Its price is considerably higher than that of industrial ice cream, due to the quality and quantity of the products used, in addition to its small-scale production. There are countries where the development of artisanal ice cream has developed a lot, such as Italy, Argentina, Germany and Japan.
  • Soft Ice Cream (also called Soft Ice Cream or Wafer in Venezuela): It is an ice cream that is manufactured from an industrially produced base mix, which is placed in a small freezer machine. When serving, a tap is activated from the machine, removing the ice cream at the time. The main feature is the large amount of air inside, that is, it is very light and has a very soft texture. It is an ice cream that is not necessarily of low quality, but generally, more economical because it does not require the freezing operation to which the other types of ice cream are subjected after emulsion formation. They are usually called in other countries, such as Venezuela, wafers for this is the name of the cone made of puff pastry in which they are served. They are sold in some fast food restaurants and in some street stalls.

Taking into account the criteria of how to serve them, you have:

  • Pole or paddle: Water-based ice cream with a flat stick pierced similarly to a lollipop. In countries like Venezuela it is called posicle (if it is based on milk and covered with chocolate, it is called pastry).
  • Wafer: Creamy ice cream served in an edible puff pastry cone. When said cone is replaced by a container it is called tinita (mainly in Venezuela).
  • Vase: Served in containers similar to disposable cups. Usually they are creamy ice cream in paraffin cardboard containers that are consumed with a small wooden pallet for this purpose. Also known in this way is a certain type of homemade ice cream made from fruit juices but in disposable glasses and of a harder consistency.
  • Cup: It can be served in a container made from puff pastry (which is edible similar to the cone) or in a glass cup. It is usually accompanied with various toppings (chopped peanuts, whipped cream, chocolate pockets, wafer wafers, chocolate syrup, dulce de leche, fruits such as strawberries, peaches in syrup, kiwi in syrup, maraschino cherries, etc.). Being able to even have other accompaniments such as: brownie, flan, etc.


Ice cream consists of egg yolks, sugar, milk and whipped cream. For vanilla ice cream, the milk is cooked with vanilla pods. If necessary, the marrow from the vanilla pods is added to the milk, which gives small black dots in the ice, as a sign that the ice cream is made from real vanilla. The milk-egg-whipped cream mixture is frozen while rotating in an ice bucket. It can be consumed as "fresh ice cream" or "soft ice cream" immediately after spinning, but it is preferable to allow the ice cream to mature in the freezer for 12 hours.


The origin of the ice cream is considered uncertain, since the concept of the product has undergone modifications in line with the technological advance, the generalization of its consumption and the demands of the consumers. In spite of this, the presence of ice-cold or chilled drinks with snow or ice usually brought by slaves in the Babylonian courts, before the Christian era, can be established as probable origin of ice cream.

Even before, in 400 a. C., in Persia, a plate cooled like a pudding or flan, made of rose water and vermicelli (or angel hair), resembled a cross between a sorbet and a rice pudding, which was served royalty during the summer. The Persians had already mastered the technique of storing ice inside large, naturally cooled refrigerators, known as Yakhchal (یخدان). These stores kept the ice collected during the winter or brought from the mountains during the summer. They worked using high wind receivers that kept the underground storage space at cold temperatures. The ice was then mixed with saffron, fruits and other varied flavors.

On the other hand it is said that the king of Macedonia, Alexander the Great, and the Roman emperor Nero cooled their fruit juices and their wines with ice or snow brought from the mountains by their slaves.

During the Middle Ages, sugary products were prepared in the Arab courts with ice-cold fruits and spices from the mountains. This mixture was called in Arabic sharbat. This word passed to Turkish as "şerbet". The Hispanic term sorbet may also have been derived from the Arabic language.

In China, Emperor Tang (618-697, Before the Christian Era) of the Shang Dynasty, had a method to create mixtures of ice with milk. From China this recipe passed to India, Persia (Iran, today) and then to Greece and Rome. But it is precisely in the Italy of the Middle Ages when ice cream takes on a nature character in Europe. The navigator Marco Polo in the thirteenth century, upon returning from his trips to the East, brought several recipes for frozen desserts used in Asia for hundreds of years, which were implanted with some popularity in the Italian courts.

In the sixteenth century it was discovered that ethyl nitrate mixed with snow produced very low temperatures, which would have an important influence on the manufacture of ice cream. When Catherine de Medici married Henry II of France, she made her cook take the primitive ice cream recipes to the French court, keeping them secretly. In France, egg was added to the recipes. A granddaughter of Catherine married an English prince, bringing ice cream to England. In this way, these products were disseminated in Europe and then taken to America during the time of colonization.

In 1686, Sicilian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli opened an establishment in Paris, called Café Procope, reaching great fame for its ice cream and coffee. King Louis XIV took him to his presence to congratulate him on his product. This establishment can be considered as the first ice cream shop. It is said that under Louis XIV began to prepare vanilla and chocolate ice cream, later milk cream, until reaching the current ice cream.

A great step in this industry was the discovery of the cryoscopic decrease (solidification temperature decrease) of salt solutions (brines) which allowed using a bucket surrounded with a mixture of ice and salt or water and salt at low temperatures, drinks and juices of sugary fruits will be frozen by shaking, giving rise to the first creamy texture ice cream. In fact, in the old elaboration process a mixture of milk, sugar, milk cream and some stabilizer was made. This mixture was frozen, stirring it during the process to prevent the formation of large ice crystals. Traditionally, the temperature is reduced by placing the mixture in a container, which is submerged in a cold mixture of ground ice and salt. The salt lowers the melting temperature of the ice, thus absorbing a greater amount of heat released by the cream, freezing it during the process.

In 1913 the first continuous ice cream machine was invented, which consisted of a large steel cylinder, frozen by a very powerful cold equipment and inside, a whisk with blades driven by a powerful electric motor, which moves the mixture continuously until said mixture reaches the consistency of an ice cream.

Chemical aspects

Ice cream is one of the triumphs of food technology, and air is one of its main ingredients. Without the air, the ice cream would be a milk snow, but with the air it becomes a colloidal system of high complexity. It consists of a semi-solid foam of air cells surrounded by emulsified fat along with a network of tiny ice crystals that are surrounded by an aqueous liquid in the form of the sun.

This is what effectively makes the difference between a snow and an ice cream, the air combined with a low temperature -40 centigrade and hydrogenated fat is transformed from a liquid to a solid sparkling adding its flavorings and stabilizers, we get a delicious ice cream.

Famous recipes

Dame Blanche

vanilla ice cream with hot chocolate sauce.

Peach Melba

vanilla ice cream with poached peaches and strawberry sauce, developed by Auguste Escoffier in 1892 and named after the Australian singer Nellie Melba (1861 - 1931).

Poire Belle Hélène

vanilla ice cream with poached pears, covered with fruit jelly and chocolate sauce.


vanilla ice cream with strawberries and Grand Marnier, named after the Russian tsar family.

Lady Sunde

vanilla ice cream with pineapple, half a peach and fruit jelly.

Banana split

ice cream with two half bananas

Main consumers

According to the International Dairy Products Association (2012), the statistics of world ice cream consumption are (in liters per year/inhabitant):

  1. New Zealand (26.3)
  2. United States (24.5)
  3. Australia (17.8)
  4. Switzerland (14.4)
  5. Sweden (14.2)
  6. Finland (13.9)
  7. Denmark (9.2)
  8. Italy (8.2)
  9. Argentina (6.0)
  10. Mexico (5.0)
  11. Bethlehem (19.2)
  12. France (4.4)
  13. Canada (4.0)
  14. Germany (3.8)
  15. China (1.8)
  16. Colombia (1.4)

Favorite flavors

Based on the consumption of ice cream, in the United States the five preferred flavors are:

  • Chocolate (12.9%)
  • Cookies and cream (40%)
  • Strawberry/Strawberry (19.3%)
  • Pistachio (15.9%)
  • Vanilla (26%).

The statistics correspond to The NPD Group National Eating Trends Services.

"Ice Cream" is at the 11th Position in this list.

Ice Cream
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