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The Scoop on Ice Cream and Other Cold Treats


In 1984 President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day. He recognized ice cream as a fun and nutritious food that is enjoyed by over 90 percent of the nation's population.

Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt, Gelato, Sorbet, Sherbet aren’t all just names for ice cream. Each one is different in taste and the amount of milk or fat it contains.  

Ice Cream was brought to the colonies from Europe and quickly became a favorite of the wealthy. It would remain in the hands of the elite until the 19th century, when improvements in technology allowed ice cream to be mass-produced. It is usually made with more cream than milk.

Did you know that ice cream is loved by so many that almost ten percent of all milk produced by U.S. Dairy farmers is used in the production of ice cream? It takes 12 pounds of milk to make 1 gallon of ice cream. On average, a cow will produce six to seven gallons of milk each day. Milk is about 3.5% milkfat. Ice cream is at least 10% milkfat. It is not the water in the milk that is makes it creamy; it is the fat.

Frozen Yogurt usually consists of milk solids, some kind of sweetener, milk fat, yogurt culture, natural or artificial flavorings, and sometimes natural or artificial coloring. Since it is made with milk instead of cream, it generally is lower in fat and calories than ice cream. However the healthy bacteria found in yogurt is killed when frozen, eliminating the probiotic benefits you would normally obtain from consuming yogurt.

The nutritional difference between frozen yogurt and ice cream is the fat content. One cup of regular vanilla ice cream contains 275 calories, 15 grams of fat, and 9 grams of saturated fat. One cup of regular vanilla frozen yogurt contains 221 calories, 6 grams of fat and 4 grams of saturated fat.

Gelato is the Italian name for ice cream and is made with a base of regular milk and sugar; whereas, ice cream is made with cream and eggs. Gelato is generally lower in fat than other styles of ice cream and typically contains less air and more flavoring than other kinds of frozen desserts. It generally has a density and richness that distinguishes it from other ice creams. The flavors of gelato are typically stronger; therefore, the servings are usually smaller than ice cream when purchasing.

Sorbet is made from water and fruit puree or juice. It is almost always dairy and fat-free. It contains no milk, cream, or eggs, and is one of the oldest forms of frozen desserts. One cup of an all-fruit sorbet has 184 calories, 34 grams of sugar, 46.2 grams of carbohydrates and no fat. While no fat is good, sorbet is high in sugar and does not offer any calcium, unlike milk-based frozen treats, which do.

Sherbet is not quite ice cream and not quite sorbet. It is made with fruit and water, but also usually has the addition of milk or buttermilk. It has a slightly creamier texture than sorbet, as well as a lighter, pastel color. Because sherbet is made from fruit and water, it has a higher carbohydrate count than milk and is lower in fat. This also means it is lower in protein as well.

For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at, on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaDue, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the web at

If you chose to make your own ice cream this July 4th, here is my family favorite ice cream. Keep in mind that you should never use raw eggs in ice cream. Instead, go egg free, pasteurized or make an egg custard base as the recipe below does.   

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

4 eggs

2 1/2 cups sugar

7 cups milk

3 cups whipping cream

2 1/2 tablespoons vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

 In a large saucepan with heat turned off, beat eggs until light. Add sugar gradually, beating until thick. Add 3 cups milk. Stir and heat until thickened. (This makes a custard and ensures that you will not get salmonella). Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Pour into 5 quart freezer can. Adjust dasher and cover. Pack 6 parts crushed ice and 1 part rock salt around the can.  Continue to add more ice and salt to maintain level.  Freeze according to directions for your freezer. 

Yields 5 quarts.

By Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Carla Due
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854
(870) 779-3609

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