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Back to the Basics

February 18, 2016

Making ice cream that is made with honest ingredients is hard work. We do it because the effort is totally worth it.  We’re proud of the people and products that we work with and can say, with honesty, that we love creating, serving, AND eating our ice creams.
 

The truth is ice cream is ice cream is ice cream:  the basic ingredients, ratio of ingredients, and preparation methods of any proprietary mix must meet specific requirements.  Before you add in your flavoring ingredients like chocolate, mint, or beets, there are five main components to ice cream that all contribute in their own ways to the deliciously creamy, soft, and chewy texture and flavor that we all know and love. These are the milk, cream, sugar, thickener, and starch. There are specific ratios of these that any ice cream recipe must keep to. To veer too far from the standard ratios puts an ice cream at risk of losing its nice texture and becoming icy or gummy. Obviously, nobody wants that!

 

Each of these ingredients all contribute in their own way to the overall texture.

 

The milk and cream work together to build the creamy texture and flavor signature to ice cream. While the water content of the milk produces the ice crystals necessary for ice cream to become frozen, the fat and protein molecules in the milk and cream coat the forming ice crystals, thus inhibiting their growth. Generally, the smaller the ice crystals an ice cream has, the better its consistency.

 

The sugars and syrups also help to build the texture while enhancing the flavor and sweetness of the base. Sugar is hydroscopic, which means that it absorbs water and ultimately prevents ice crystals from forming, allowing ice cream to remain soft and scoopable at temperatures far below freezing.  We call it the “anti-freeze of food.” Liquid sugars like honey, corn syrup, or the brown rice syrup we use, are composed of slow-flowing molecules that prevent crystallization, minimize the size of ice crystals, and contribute to a creamier mouthfeel.

 

The trick then, when making an honest ice cream, is to balance this need to use natural, wholesome ingredients with the desire to maintain a texture that isn’t just satisfying, it’s extraordinary! While staying within the confines of an ideal recipe, what sets any one ice cream apart from the rest is the quality of ingredients and, of course, the many unique flavors and their homemade components. Before opening our doors, Anthony tested various recipes and ratios for months before finding a favorite. It was incredibly important, this balance of taste and honesty. That’s how we came to the ingredients that make up the base of of our ice creams.

 

The essentials all come from sources that we can feel good about. Our milk and cream come from Mill King Market & Creamery, a small, family-owned dairy in McGregor, Texas.  Many of y’all have probably heard of them (if you haven’t, check out our about section!). Their amazing, hormone & antibiotic-free milk & cream make up a whopping 80% of our recipe!

 

Our sugars are honest too! Our hard sugar comes from Imperial Sugar of Sugar Land, Texas.  It is strictly non-GMO, 100% cane sugar (no beet sugar!), and vegan.  For a liquid sugar, we choose brown rice syrup over a more traditional syrup like honey or corn syrup not only for its distinctly deep, earthy flavor and lower sweetness (it’s half as sweet as pure cane sugar!), but because for us part of being honest means having a commitment to not using corn by-products in our ice creams. We use brown rice syrup from Lundberg Family Farms in California.

 

Finally, for our starch, we use tapioca. Tapioca starch is a white starch extracted from cassava root.  It is the purest starch, which means that it is composed exclusively of the polysaccharides (aka carbohydrates) amylose and amylopectin.  We choose tapioca starch as it is widely available, easy to use, and allergen free!  The tapioca hydrates when heated to a low temperature, provides a glossy sheen, and can withstand freezing temperatures unlike cornstarch or arrowroot.

 

The ratios in that recipe are what make our ice cream’s texture so good and its ingredients and the thoughtfulness behind them are what makes our ice cream honest. Together, they become Lick Honest Ice Creams.

 

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