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Ice Cream

Tuesday, 18 November 2008 | Tags: ,

A sweet treat with endless flavour options, there's no better summertime crowd pleaser than ice cream. We take a closer look to see if one stands out as the cream of the crop.

The Basics

  • For the purest taste, pick an ice cream with the fewest ingredients. Look for basic and natural. Avoid trans fats, monotriglycerides and hydrogenated fats.

  • Milk is the primary ingredient, plus sweeteners and various flavourings.

  • The quality, and especially the fat content, of the milk, determine whether it’s a super premium gourmet ice cream, a light or low-fat ice cream, or a more economy option.

  • Stabilizers, emulsifiers, and air bond the ice cream together and give it texture.

  • Without air, your container of ice cream would be a block of ice. The difference in volume before and after air is added is called “overrun”. A premium ice cream has a very low overrun. Economy brands tend to pump in more air for a higher overrun, and are thus less expensive.

Be Aware

  • Thawing and refreezing can really affect ice cream’s flavour and texture. Even opening and closing of the freezer case at the supermarket is enough to start a thaw.

  • Don’t choose a container with crystallized ice on the outside – a tell-tale sign it’s been thawed and refrozen. Try to pick a rock solid container from the back and get it home to your freezer quickly.

TEST CRITERIA

We recruited kids and parents to help us with our taste test. To create a level playing field, we tested the vanilla flavour of these brands:

  • Häagen-Dazs: $6.99 500 ml
  • Ben & Jerry’s: $6.99 500 ml
  • Breyers: $1.99 500 ml
  • Nestlé Real Dairy Light: $1.99 500 ml
  • Lucerne: 84¢ 500 ml

Air Test

Since ice cream is sold by volume, not weight, we tested weighed a ½ cup of each brand to see which was heaviest, and thus had the least air.

  • Häagen-Dazs: 108 g
  • Ben & Jerry’s: 100 g
  • Breyers: 94 g
  • Nestlé: 90 g
  • Lucerne: 84 g

As we expected, more ice cream and less air for your dollar means buying premium. Häagen-Daz is definitely no airhead.

Kids’ Taste Test

  • 85% of our kids chose Ben & Jerry’s vanilla as the most vanilla-y

  • Other brands were said to taste like butter or paper.

  • Breyers was a second choice.

Grown Ups’ Test

  • Breyers was the most popular with the grown-ups

  • Häagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s were next popular

  • The last two didn’t even compare

OUR TOP PICK

The scoop? Breyers, Häagen-Daz, Ben & Jerry’s…they’re all irresistibly yummy!

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