Published on 05/25/06

Make churned treats without food-poisoning fear

By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

With its constant whining grind, the electric ice cream churn does its job, turning a sweet liquid into a scoop-ready solid.

As Memorial Day rolls past and summer hits the South full force, many people are pulling out or buying an ice cream maker. University of Georgia expert Elizabeth Andress has tips to keep the treat sweet instead of turning it into a bacterial disaster.

“Our biggest concern is Salmonella bacteria,” Andress said. “So many ice cream recipes have called for raw eggs in past, and that has been a problem. Salmonellosis can make many people very sick, and it can be life-threatening for the very old and very young.”

Andress, a UGA Cooperative Extension food safety specialist, said the easiest way to avoid the bacterial problem is to use a recipe that requires a mixture with raw eggs to be cooked or by substituting a pasteurized egg product such as Egg Beaters.

“People can pasteurize their own eggs, but it’s not an easy task,” she said.

Another way to avoid salmonella is to find a recipe that doesn't call for eggs. But for some people, the egg-less ice cream loses some of its appeal.

“Ice creams that have eggs in them tend to be the ones that are more custard-like,” Andress said. “They have a richer body and mouth-feel. With eggs, you get a richer, thicker taste to it.

“You can also get that richer mouth-feel by using a higher-fat dairy product.”

But that gets into the nutrition side of homemade ice cream, Andress said, and falls more into UGA Extension nutrition specialist Kelly Bryant’s expertise.

“Ice cream fits within the milk group,” Bryant said, “but it is higher in fat and added sugar, which makes it higher in calories, so we want to limit the amount that we eat.”

Homemade ice cream, Bryant said, allows people to add fruits to the creamy base. She suggests peaches and strawberries, but says the choice of fruit depends on the individual. “I like strawberries, like peaches,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve had it any other way before.”

Andress said she likes “a good vanilla ice cream with the actual vanilla bean used to flavor it. I do also like a good homemade strawberry or a fresh peach ice cream.”

In general, a half-cup serving of ice cream has about 100 milligrams of calcium, or 10 percent of a person’s daily value. This serving size has the calcium of a third of a cup of milk, Bryant said.

Ice cream tends to be higher in saturated fat, which isn’t a heart-healthy fat. To lower the saturated fat and calories, she suggests using low-fat or fat-free milk instead of the usual whole milk or cream. But on a holiday, it may be time for a treat.

“I think that on Memorial Day, homemade ice cream is just a traditional part of picnics and get-togethers,” she said. “Instead of passing on the treat, I think they should let themselves eat it, but just watch the amount.”

(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

Stephanie Schupska is the communications coordinator with the University of Georgia Honors College.