How The French Pot Ice Cream Process Develops Unique Textures

Ice cream is always a dense and exquisite frozen treat, but not all versions are created equal. There's an ice cream-making process called the French Pot that, while you might not be familiar with it, delivers a particularly dense and pliable concoction. The reason for this is twofold: French-style ice cream uses eggs, so it's already got a leg up in the rich-and-creamy department. But it's when this custard base is poured into a French pot that the magic happens. French pots are 2½ gallon-sized open containers that spin furiously as they freeze the ice cream. This results in textures that can't be found by other means. 

In the French pot method, centrifugal force creates a kind of confectionary carnival Rotor Ride, sending all the pot contents onto the freezing sides of the container, where they're scraped off either by a mechanical corkscrew blade or a manually-operated paddle. As a result, French pot ice cream has a higher density than other types and is creamier because it's lower in air and higher in butterfat.

For the Graeter good

The French pot vertical batch ice cream-making method is proprietary to Cincinnati, Ohio's Graeter's Ice Cream company, which has been employing it for over 100 years. Their style of production has other benefits beside the consistency of the ice cream: French pots create their own chocolate chips. Melted chocolate is poured into the pot and stirred in. This process creates individual chips (chunks would be more accurate) occasionally as large as a tablespoon. Because this kind of small-batch production doesn't lend itself to automatic packing, every pint of Graeter's is packed by hand.

As you might imagine, Graeter's made our list of the 25 best ice cream brands because we know a good thing when we see, er, eat it. And while we're all about homemade ice cream production, you might not have the budget to acquire a French pot of your own. Luckily, you don't have to: Graeter's is available in over 6,000 grocery stores nationwide.