#42 – Try frozen custard

by Elizabeth on November 1, 2012 · 3 comments

in 101 in 1001, Food, Travel, USA


Part of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project.

If it wasn’t for all of the blogs I read from around the world I may not have even heard of frozen custard (let’s hear it for the Internet – hooray!)  It seems to have a bit of a cult following and for years I’ve been waiting for it to become a “thing” in Australia.

There are a few places that sell frozen custard in Australia, but to the best of my knowledge you can’t get it in Melbourne.  We decided we’d just have to fly all the way to the USA to try it out.

I had no idea what to expect when we arrived at Rita’s, so was a bit surprised to find that it comes from a soft serve machine and looked just like icecream.  This is what Wikipedia has to say about its origins and the differences between frozen custard and icecream:

Frozen custard was invented in Coney Island, New York in 1919, when ice cream vendors Archie and Elton Kohr found that adding egg yolks to ice cream created a smoother texture and helped the ice cream stay cold longer. In their first weekend on the boardwalk, the Kohr brothers sold 18,460 cones.

A frozen custard stand at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago introduced the dessert to a wider audience.  Following the fair, the dessert’s popularity spread throughout the Midwest; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in particular, became known as the “unofficial frozen custard capital of the world”.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration requires products marketed as frozen custard to contain at least 10 percent milkfat and 1.4 percent egg yolk solids. If it has fewer egg yolk solids, it is considered ice cream.

True frozen custard is a very dense dessert. Soft serve ice creams may have an overrun as large as 100%, meaning half of the final product is composed of air. Frozen custard, when made in a proper continuous freezer will have an overrun of 15-30% depending on the machine manufacturer (an overrun percentage similar to gelato). Air is not pumped into the mix, nor is it added as an “ingredient” but gets into the frozen state by the agitation of liquid similar to whisking a meringue. The high percentage of butterfat and egg yolk gives frozen custard a thick, creamy texture and a smoother consistency than ice cream. Frozen custard can be served at –8°C (18°F), warmer than the –12°C (10°F) at which ice cream is served, in order to make a soft serve product.

Another difference between commercially produced frozen custard and commercial ice cream is the way the custard is frozen. The mix enters a refrigerated tube and, as it freezes, blades scrape the product cream off the barrel walls. The now frozen custard is discharged directly into containers from which it can be served. The speed with which the product leaves the barrel minimizes the amount of air in the product but more importantly ensures that the ice crystals formed are very small.

So now we know.  But more importantly, how does it taste?

I decided to be a purist for my first taste of frozen custard, so I chose vanilla with hot fudge.  It was delicious – dense, creamy and very “eggy” in taste compared to ice cream.

Tim chose the chocolate, and although it was delicious I didn’t notice the custardy taste as much.

Verdict: Frozen custard is amazing and everybody should try it.    There might even be a reason why this ended up being #42 on my list!


Aussies can find it at these places:

I’ll add to this list if I hear of any others.  If you know more, please leave a comment!
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathy Combs November 4, 2012 at 12:13 am

Excuse me while I wipe the drool from my face.  That looks heavenly!!



Fiona November 6, 2012 at 7:37 pm

I was gonna say it’s a Canberra thing, but then you got there :):)


Elizabeth November 6, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Did I at least have you on the edge of your seat? 😉


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