There's a Real Reason Why It's So Hard to Put Down a Pint of Ice Cream
We’ve all been there. You pick up a pint of ice cream, "forget" the bowl and eat it straight from the source instead, confident in your ability to put it down—because you have “willpower.” But then, inexplicably, each bite tastes better than the last. Time stops, you temporarily black out and, suddenly, your spoon is scraping the bottom. What just happened?
You're not making it up: There’s a reason ice cream tastes better the farther down into a pint you go. “The flavor release is better when it’s warmer,” Eric Fredette, an official Flavor Guru at Ben & Jerry’s, says. “We fill pints at about 22 degrees, so it’s like soft-serve. If you get a fresh pint off the line, you can eat the whole thing in a matter of minutes, because there’s no resistance. The flavor is so amazing, because it’s warm and doesn’t get your tongue down to eight degrees, which is normally the temperature ice cream is stored.”
So, Fredette confirms, it’s fair to say science is at least partially to blame for your lack of any chill in the face of a softening pint of ice cream. At this slightly warmer temperature, your taste buds aren’t assaulted by cold and are fully able to transmit the flavor of every blissful bite to your brain.
Fredette's job as a Flavor Guru is to take his chef training and work closely with Ben & Jerry’s food scientists to dream up new flavor concepts and bring them to life in small, six-pint test batches. After creating the next Phish Food or Cherry Garcia, he works with a team to build formulas and find the perfect vendors for each swirl, chunk, and morsel that goes into the flavor before ultimately releasing it into the world. Needless to say, he knows his stuff when it comes to ice cream details.
To reach optimal ice cream temperature, Fredette suggests taking the pint out of the freezer and popping it into the fridge for about 20 minutes before eating the whole thing serving it to friends. This way, it tempers evenly, softening all the way through instead of turning to liquid on the outside while remaining frozen in the center. If you don't plan on eating the entire pint, spoon a scoop into a bowl and pop that into the fridge instead. Otherwise, ice crystals will form when you refreeze the container, making your next serving grainier and less enjoyable.
For maximum enjoyment, channel your inner child. “As a kid, you used to stir up your ice cream so it gets soft,” Fredette says. “It’s most flavorful when you do that. You’re making a mess, but it tastes great.” Go ahead: Listen to the expert.
Regan Stephens is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer covering food, drink and travel. Follow along on the hunt for her next great ice cream cone at @regan.stephens.
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