How to tell quality Ice Cream without tasting it

Imagine yourself at the grocery store. Your task? Come home with some really good ice cream. You decide that you are in the mood for chocolate.

You get to the ice cream section of your local grocer’s freezer, and you see two brands, Brand A and Brand B. You’ve tried neither one of them before, and you don’t know which one tastes better than the other. Which brand should you choose? Both containers are a gallon in size, and both have beautiful pictures of lucscious chocolate ice cream on the lid.

Here’s one way to tell the difference between the two. Take both containers to the produce section, and weigh them seperately. The one that weighs heavier is the one that you should take home.

Why is this? The first thing you have to remember is that ice cream is sold by volume, not by weight. One gallon may equal one gallon, but one ice cream may be more dense than the other. In other words, one company was able to fit more product into the ice cream container than the other was able to.

It all comes down to something called “overrun”. Overrun is the percentage increase in volume of ice cream greater than the amount of mix used to produce that ice cream. That overrun is air. The legal overrun limit for ice cream is 100 percent, which would amount to half air.

Ice cream needs air, or it would be as hard as stone. But too much air, and the ice cream suffers in quality. It melts quickly in the mouth and has very granular texture in regard to the way it feels in them mouth.

A more dense ice cream would be creamier to the palate, and it would not melt as quick as the higher overrun ice cream. This means that the flavor of the ice cream lasts longer in the mouth. A quality ice cream runs between 15-50% overrun.

Overrun is not required to be listed on the ice cream labels.

This is more of a guideline than a hard and fast rule, as there are other variables that helps determine how good an ice cream can be, including the ingredients used and the amount of butterfat in the ice cream. But ask yourself – if a company is willing to sell ice cream that weighs 50% less than another brand, what are the odds that they use better ingredients?

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