What makes one kind of ice cream better than another?
To answer that question, I visited the Utah State University Nutrition, Dairy and Food Sciences building, and met David Irish. He’s been the manager of Aggie Ice Cream for eight years. He gets a pleasant half smile on his face when I remind him that Aggie Ice Cream was voted best local ice cream shop in Utah this summer.
He said the shop’s ice cream is memorable because those at Aggie Ice Cream have years of experience and understands both the science and art of crafting ice cream. He said the milk is from a high-quality dairy and the shop sells its ice cream fresh, going from cow-to-cone in as little as three days.
“We don’t make a bunch in the winter and then freeze it and save it for summer, we just make more in the summer to meet demands,” Irish said.
The milk in the shop’s ice cream is supplied by the George B. Caine Dairy Farm, USU’s school farm.
“It’s won lots of awards for being one of the top student dairies in the nation,” Irish said.
Aggie Ice Cream has been doing this since 1921. But what are they doing, exactly? Irish took me on a tour of the factory and described the process for making Aggie Ice Cream.
“So the truck comes from the George B. Caine Dairy farm,” he said. “It’ll come out here, we’ll move our vehicles out, they hook up to these stainless steel pipes then use the pump to pump up into the pipes and into our holding tank. So that’s where it starts.”
After the milk goes through the pipes, it’s warmed up and mixed together with cream, sweeteners and other additives to make a sort of sweet-smelling, melty ice cream soup. It’s then pasteurized, homogenized and aged overnight. And that’s one of the most important parts of getting that creamy texture ice cream lovers crave.
“Aging allows the proteins in the fat to interact so it makes a better body of ice cream,” Irish said. “Ice cream body is how it feels on your tongue. Whether it’s grainy, whether it’s kind of chalky, or whether it’s smooth and creamy. And aging it makes it smooth and creamy.”
After it’s aged, the ice cream soup is pumped into flavor tanks and flavored 55 gallons at a time.
Then it’s put into the ice cream freezer and brought down to the chill temperature of -20 degrees. At this point, air is added into the ice cream, which will make each gallon grow from about one gallon to 1.75 gallons. That’s what makes it light and fluffy.
Then, it’s dispensed into the buckets, scooped up by an ice cream scoop, and placed on your ice cream cone.
Last year, from June until July, Aggie Ice Cream made just under 49,000 gallons of ice cream. The most popular flavor is Aggie Blue Mint, second is Bull Tracks.