Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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The key to making a good ice cream is to formulate a mix that will freeze into a balanced structure of ice crystals, concentrated cream, and air. The consistency of a balanced, well made ice cream is creamy, smooth, firm, almost chewy. The smaller the proportion of water in the mix, the easier it is to make small crystals and a smooth texture. However, too much sugar and milk solids gives a heavy, soggy, syrupy result, and too much fat can end up churning into butter. Most good ice cream recipes produce a mix with a water content around 60%, a sugar content around 15%, and a milk-fat content between 10%—the minimum for commercial U.S. ice cream—and 20%.