Look up any recipe for homemade ice cream and the ingredients are pretty simple: Milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla (or other flavor). But try to buy ice cream at the store and it’s generally a chemical soup that sounds like something emanating from a fuel refinery rather than a kitchen. Haagen Dazs is an exception, although other than Vanilla and plain Chocolate, even they use additives – albeit “natural” ones such as coconut oil, guar gum, xantan gum, etc. to simulate certain flavors and textures.
Commercial brands are a nightmare. Even the ones that try to tug at the “Real” heartstrings are full of all kinds of additives. Nestle’s Real Dairy brand for example, includes the following ingredients in its very basic Vanilla recipe:
FRESH CREAM, WHEY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SUGAR, EVAPORATED SKIM MILK, GLUCOSE, EGG YOLKS, CAROB BEAN GUM, GUAR GUM, NATURAL FLAVOUR, PURE GROUND VANILLA BEANS, COLOUR.
Whey protein concentrate? Yeah, I remember my grandmother saying to me: “Steve, please reach into the cupboard and hand me the whey protein concentrate”. And my grandmother always made sure to have lots of Carob Bean Gum and Guar Gum on hand…yummmm.
Chapman’s – a popular homegrown Canadian brand – lists the following on its basic Vanilla Ice Cream:
CREAM, MODIFIED MILK INGREDIENTS, SUGAR, GLUCOSE, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, LOCUST BEAN GUM, CELLULOSE GUM, GUAR GUM, CARRAGEENAN, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOUR.
And ironically, moving to the “Premium” category, doesn’t actually get you less shit, it gets you more!
CREAM, MODIFIED MILK INGREDIENTS, GLUCOSE, SUGAR, FRENCH VANILLA FLAVOUR (GLUCOSE, GLUCOSE-FRUCTOSE, FROZEN EGG YOLKS, SUGAR, WATER, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOUR, COLOUR, POTASSIUM SORBATE), MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, LOCUST BEAN GUM, CELLULOSE GUM, GUAR GUM, CARRAGEENAN, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOUR.
In fairness, all other brands are as bad or worse. As I say, a chemical soup. What resemblance does any of this crap have to ice cream?
As tempting as it is to ask why, I won’t because the answer is pretty obvious: Profit. And frankly, I don’t mind….every company is entitled to put its “value proposition” out there and let the consumer decide. My bigger question is: Why don’t more brands make a pure, simple, homemade version and price it accordingly? Or is that answer also obvious? Consumers want volume and a low price…it’s the American (and Canadian) Way.