From the earliest moments of recorded history, humans have been seeking out cool treats for relief from the heat of sun, mixing honey and fruit with snow or ice. Sometime in the 16th century, the dessert we know as ice cream was discovered in England, France, and Italy. Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were both known to have loved ice cream, and regularly enjoyed it in their homes. Today, Americans consume nearly 50 pints apiece, every year.
Just what is ice cream?
Great ice cream begins with great milk and great cream. These two ingredients are the backbone of genuine ice cream, and if they aren’t the very best, you’ll be able to taste it in the final product. To be ice cream – and not light ice cream or frozen yogurt – your dessert needs at least 10% milk fat. Ice cream with a chocolate base can be 8% milk fat, because the fat present in the chocolate will bring the total fat content into acceptable levels. Light ice cream, on the other hand, can only have around 6% milk fat to qualify. We source our milk and cream from our very own dairy herd, which means the dairy in our ice cream has the shortest possible trip from the field to where it’s made into ice cream. That kind of freshness just can’t be beat.
After milk and cream, sweeteners are added to the mix, along with any flavorings the base needs. From the delicious simplicity of vanilla to the sky blue birthday cake, all of our quality ice creams start with this mix of cream, ice cream, and flavorings.
You know that our gourmet ice cream starts with the very best ingredients. But those ingredients transform into something magical when you start mixing them up and cool them down. Two important steps happen before these ingredients make the leap to ice cream—pasteurization and homogenization. The mix is pasteurized according to government regulations in order to kill any bacteria. It’s homogenized to create the smallest possible fat molecules in your ice cream – a key ingredient in creating creamy, smooth ice cream.
Then, it’s off to the freezer, where spinning blades introduce air into the ingredients as they’re cooling. This keeps your ice cream from being a rock-hard brick when you open it up.
The fun stuff
Once the ice cream has cooled to a semi-solid state, it’s time to add in all the tasty goodies, or “inclusions.” Those are the bits of peppermint candy in our peppermint ice cream, the chocolate chunks in our Cappuccino Chunky Chocolate, or the peach ribbons, almonds, and lady fingers in our Premium Amaretto Peach Charlotte. Because the ice cream has hardened enough to be stiff, it can hold all of these extra ingredients, without them collecting in the bottom of their container.
Once the inclusions have been added, the ice cream is ready to be packed in containers we make on-site. Those containers then make their way to a freezer the length of a football field, held at -20 degrees. This process hardens the ice cream to its final consistency, and it’s ready to be shipped to your local store.
We don’t just make our ice cream, though. We make the baked goods which go inside our ice cream, and we proudly bake the cones the ice cream is served in. Those cones are mixed up, pressed, cooked, and formed right in our bakery. Some go to our stores for serving at our Braum’s Fountain, and the rest are packaged for our Fresh Market, where our customers can take home a box for their own ice cream.