How Soft Serve Ice Cream Mix Becomes Ice Cream

When opening a soft serve ice cream shop, there are two things which are really at the heart of your business: the ice cream machine you use and the soft serve ice cream mix you choose.


Types of Soft Serve Ice Cream Mix

There are many types of soft serve ice cream mixes available. For business owners, the first major choice is whether you want a mix which is in liquid or in powder form.  The powder ice cream mixes are generally preferred by businesses for a number of reasons.  They are sterilized, sealed, heat-treated, usually don’t require refrigeration and are generally cheaper.

Even though liquid ice cream mixes are more expensive, they have some benefits.   Liquid ice cream mixes usually give a more consistent final product and often don’t require any additional ingredients and can be used directly out of the packaging.

Generally, both liquid and powdered soft serve ice cream mix are available in vanilla and chocolate flavors.  There will also be a neutral flavor which is mixed with syrups in order to create a variety of flavors.  Often, the syrup is loaded into the soft-serve machine and automatically added into the ice cream mixes.


How Soft Serve Ice Cream is Made

Liquid ice cream mix will be poured directly into the machine whereas powdered ice cream mix must have water added.  Once in the machine, the soft serve ice cream mix is simultaneously whipped and frozen.  The ice cream mix is pumped through tubes which have rotating blades inside.  There are pipes outside of the tube which are filled with ammonia.  This causes the ice cream mix to rapidly freeze even though it never comes in contact with the ammonia.

While inside the tubes, the ice cream mix is under a large amount of pressure.  It is common to hear popping noises from soft-serve machines which air bubbles that are in the mixture pop.  It is also common for soft-serve machines to pop while releasing the ice cream and causing it to splatter outwards.

With ice cream mix made from real milk, the job of the soft-serve machine is mainly to thoroughly beat the mix in order to break down all of the particles into miniscule sizes.  This is how a smooth and creamy ice cream is made. With powdered ice cream mix, the soft-serve machine will actually be beating air into the mix. This will cause the mix to swell, also known as “overrun.”  Because of the overrun, it is typical for 1 pint of ice cream mix to turn into 3 pints of soft serve ice cream.


Oil Based Soft Serve Ice Cream Mix

Some soft serve ice cream mixes don’t contain milk products at all. Instead, they are made out of an oil product which gets whipped up by the soft-serve machine, much like Cool Whip.  The oil-based ice cream mixes are injected with gas so that gas pockets will form in the mix and cause it to fluff up.


Even though the soft-serve machine is the force behind the final product, the soft serve ice cream mix that you choose will still ultimately decide the taste and texture.  Not even the best soft-serve machine can turn oil-based ice cream mixes into a completely smooth and creamy ice cream. While trying out different ice cream mixes, compare the abrasiveness of the crystals. This will let you know whether the ice cream mix is quality or not.

Jason Lexell

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