How can I make my icecream soft as it is too hard to carve straight from the fridge?

  • How can I make my icecream soft as it is too hard to carve straight from the fridge? gypsybird

    I have made my recipe with many changes and the most successful effort was the addition of a Instant Pudding mix. All others were much too hard to carve and serious effort was needed to just get the spoon or scoop into the frozen delight help please. All recipes made were made dairy free using soy and tofu bases.

    The responses to this question have been very helpful and have given me new directions to explore. I believe now the product I want to create is achievable. Thank you everyone.

  • Uh, I'm confused: what's wrong with just letting the ice cream thaw a few minutes at room temperature before serving? Isn't that what you do with any ice cream?

  • Have you tried to put your ice cream in the refrigerator for 30 mins before you have it. It should softern up the ice cream.

    The time to softern the ice cream also depends on the type of ice cream. I think the one that has less water content which means more dairy base one take less time to go soft.

  • If you really don't want to defrost it, you need to do something that will make it less hard when frozen. One choice, if it doesn't conflict with your allergies or your flavor profiles, would be to add alcohol - a liquor of your choice will make it freeze significantly less hard.

    Another option would be to make it less susceptible to crystallization when refreezing, so that you can defrost it on the counter (or 20 seconds in the microwave). Try adding about 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum to a quart of ice cream base, that should reduce your crystallization problem a bit. You may need to reduce the agar a little to compensate. (I learned this from pastry chef Dana Cree).

  • One option I recently and inadvertently tested, was adding more fat. The recipe I normally use calls for 2% milk, but I purchased whole milk instead. The slightly higher fat content made the ice cream soft enough that I didn't have to warm it on the counter like I always had to do before.

    Now since you are going Dairy free, you'd have to find your fat somewhere else. Commercial premium ice creams have a range up to 16% fat content. A combination of that and the air whipped into the ice cream, keeps them soft and smooth. The same principle that applies for alcohol (as Michael was stating) applies for fat. With a much lower freezing point, it will help keep the ice cream stay soft. I’m not sure what type of oil you are using, but Corn oil has the lowest at -20 C, Sunflower might be a little more neutral and with a freezing point of -17 C, it should keep a nice soft consistancy at a low temperature. .

  • We find it helps to get a mug of boiling water, and dip the ice cream scoop in it between each scoop of ice cream. It does take a bit longer but it does help to a certain extent - it depends how solid your ice cream is!

  • Well, that's basically where ice machines come into the game. Often ice recipes tell you to stir the ice during the freezing process every 5 to 10 minutes or so, so the ice will stay softer. That's what ice machines are taking care of: While freezing the ice they constantly stir the mass, so in the end you will get the perfect soft ice. Anyway if you then place this ice in the freezer, it will become hard nevertheless, since finally it's all a question of temperature.

    So you might either go invest in an ice machine or get the ice out of the freezer (and into the fridge) some 15 to 30 minutes before serving it.

    There's definitely no other way around it.

  • No sure if this is a dead link now or not but I thought I would throw in my 2 cents. We have tried using Coconut Cream (Not milk) instead of the soy milk. This has really helped in keeping the ice cream a bit softer right out of the freezer.

  • I put it in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stll to hard? zap it again. Over one minute it runs.

  • That was one of my problems too. If you are using eggs, try reducing the amount of yolks, e.g. 4 whites to 3 yolks. It really worked for me without adding any artificial ingredients, chemicals or compounds.

  • Ice cream is essentially a foam of ice crystals surrounded by sugar syrup, and air.

    The amount of air--called overrun--introduced during the churning and freezing process controls how dense, heavy and "creamy" the ice cream is. The more air ice cream has, the easier it is to scoop, since there is less solid mass being cut through.

    Ice cream with less overrun will be harder to scoop but have a smoother, heavier mouth feel. Hagen Dazs is an example of a supermarket ice cream with low overrun. Ice cream with more overrun--Breyer's is an example of a supermarket brand with the maximum legal 100% overrun--will have a lighter, fluffier mouth feel.

    The second factor is temperature. Sugar syrup does not freeze at 32 degrees. As ice cream freezes, water crystals crystalize out of the syrup phase, making the syrup even more concentrated, and further lowering its freezing point.

    The colder the ice cream is stored, the harder it will be simply because there will be more ice and less liquid syrup. Good commercial ice cream shops will store ice cream in the back freezer at -10 F, but warm it to 25 F in the counter freezers for service.

    Lastly, if the scooping instrument is hot (for example, dipping the ice cream scoop in hot water), it will melt a bit as it cuts through. Sharper scoops are also more effective.

    So your options for easier to scoop ice cream are:

    • Serve it warmer, such as by "thawing" a bit in the refrigerator before serving.
    • Buy or make ice cream with more overrun.
    • Use a hot, sharp scoop.
    • A bonus one--ice creams without hard chunks mixed in are usually easier to scoop.

    Vodka or other ingredients in the mix will change the the freezing chemistry, but not radically--they are more for flavor (some flavorants dissolve in alcholol but not water, or because of the flavor in the liqueur itself).

tofu dairy-free soymilk
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