What is Frozen Custard?
An unknown food critic once said a frozen custard stand is 'where God gets His ice cream'. For thousands of frozen custard fans, this is probably not an exaggeration. Frozen custard is to regular ice cream what cream is to milk. Frozen custard is richer and creamier than standard ice cream because of a higher butterfat content, slower production time and less air blended into the mix. The result is almost like a frozen buttercream frosting, if such a thing were possible.
To understand the wonderful taste of frozen custard, one only has to look as far as the ingredients. In addition to only using the finest ingredients available, frozen custard contains at least 10% butterfat, as well as 1.4% egg yolk by weight. Egg yolks - the ingredient that separates frozen custard from regular ice cream – add a richer, fuller taste and an indescribably silky texture. It may look something like a soft scoop ice cream, but taste it and you'll immediately notice the difference.
One reason frozen custard is noticeably thicker than standard soft-serve ice cream is the churning process inside the freezer unit. The beaters inside the chamber of a frozen custard machine turn much more slowly than those in a soft-serve ice cream or frozen yogurt machine. This slow churning prevents excessive air from being mixed into the custard as it freezes. Standard ice cream beaters are designed to incorporate air into the product, a process called overrun. As the frozen custard solidifies, it falls into a waiting chest freezer for serving.
Another distinction is the way frozen custard is prepared. The volume of regular ice cream is almost doubled by the air whipped into it during production (called overrun). This volume of air, combined with the large size of the ice crystals formed, can result in a course texture.
Made fresh daily in front of customers in specially-crafted custard machines, a frozen custard mix is continuously fed into the freezing barrel and quickly frozen, resulting in a denser and smoother product that has 70% less overrun than regular ice cream. In contrast to regular ice cream which is served just above freezing, Bodacious Buckets frozen custard is served 18-20 degrees warmer, which allows for maximum flavor and doesn't freeze your taste buds.
Anyone who appreciates a super-premium product will be hooked on this stuff after just a few bites!
Frozen custard can be packed in dry ice for shipping, but is rarely offered on store shelves. The process of making frozen custard can be labor intensive and time-consuming, which works well for individual stands maintaining a limited supply, but not for a commercial production line. A typical frozen custard stand often limits its offerings to a few flavors - vanilla, chocolate and a featured flavor of the day. This practice allows each frozen custard machine to be dedicated to one flavor run, and the quality of the products can be maintained. Consumer demand for a variety of flavors would also make commercial frozen custard difficult to market.
Frozen custards stands are primarily found in the Midwest or Eastern Seaboard regions of the United States, but interest in this frozen treat has been growing in recent years. Other areas of the world may have a few entrepreneurs who have started their own frozen custard businesses or offer the treat through other outlets.
There is a lot of conflicting information concerning the history of frozen custard. Recipes for the custard mix can be traced back to the 1900s, but the commercial machines used to create frozen custard weren't invented until 1920 or so. The custard mix recipes also varied widely, although the basic ingredients of cream, sugar and egg yolks remained consistent. Some frozen custard recipes called for a boiled mixture, while others suggested using chilled ingredients and raw egg yolks.
With the advent of commercial freezer units designed specifically for frozen custard, a number of families in the eastern and Midwestern United States started their own ice cream stands during the 1930s and 1940s. Many of these early frozen custard stands have become local legends, still bearing the original family names. Much like its ice cream counterpart, frozen custard is served on cones or used as a base for milkshakes, floats, sundaes and blends.
The frozen custard mixture is stored in a refrigerated hopper before entering the freezing chamber, which keeps the temperature well below the recommended minimum.