Summer time has arrived! While we enjoy the warmer weather and longer afternoons, sometimes a scoop of plain ol' vanilla ice cream just makes everything even better.
Kids and adults love it. The smooth coolness of it in your mouth, and the creamy vanilla goodness just goes down so easy. Nothing seems to top off a summer afternoon better than ice cream.
But do you have any idea what is really in that pint of soft-scoop that you just brought home from the store? Did you have a chance to read the ingredients on the label, or did you just pick a flavor that your family would be able to agree upon?
Not surprisingly, not very many people really know what ice cream is made of anymore, because they assume the name "ice cream" says it all. Most folks have no idea what ingredients are used to flavor, color, or bulk up their favorite ice cream. And if they did know, most would probably lose their appetite pretty quick.
Rather than tell you what is in your favorite brand's vanilla ice cream, lets go over what is not in it. Milk and cream have become more expensive for manufacturers, so the amount used in ice cream is greatly reduced, and diluted with water. Other dairy by-product ingredients are put in as well, to somewhat bulk up the dairy content. Egg yolks can also prove to be bothersome for some manufacturers, because eggs need to be kept refrigerated and controlled to avoid contamination. Sugar content has been lowered as well, especially in diet varieties. Instead, maltodextrin, corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners have been added to the treat. Last but not least, most manufacturers don't even use real vanilla in their ice cream! What is used instead as an artificial vanilla flavor? Vanilla flavor is created in labs under similar-but-different proprietary processes, but it always begins with one of two bases. Wood lignin - a by-product of making wood pulp - can be the base, or more commonly, vanilla flavor manufacturers will use a petrochemical product called guaiacol as a base for the flavoring.
If we are serious about cleaning up the environment, we should also be just as serious about cleaning up our bodies. Let's not pollute ourselves with petrochemicals, artificial sweeteners, and over-processed food stuffs. Read the labels on the products that you purchase, and be cautious with your health.
Besides, it's a lot of fun to make your own ice cream, and even more enjoyable!