HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Real ice milk

  • m

Last year at this time I threw out a line about this 1970s product. I'm not sure that I can ever find it again, but I thought I'd ask the observant SF hounds.

Remember ice milk? An ice cream like substance made with milk instead of cream. This used to be available from places like Wahlgreens in paper-wrapped quarts in flavors like strawberry and vanilla. It was not fat-free ice cream, or light ice cream, but specifically ice milk. It has a different texture than reduced-fat ice cream, and a simpler, more milk-like flavor than those lecithin rich products.

It also came in soft serve in a couple of independent outlets, but I never found a pattern or a brand name.

I really enjoy ice milk for it's simplicity and straightforwardness. It's not trying to be anything other than it is -- it's not trying to taste like full-fat ice cream -- it's just trying to taste like a sweetened frozen milk product. It's that milk, not cream, flavor that I'm after.

Anybody got a source?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Got an ice cream maker at home? Nothing beats homemade.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nja

      Yes, I make ice milk at home. I have the cheapo Krups version, which is just the frozen ice cream bowl with that gets attached to the dasher assembly which spins around while the mix is freezing. It makes decent ice milk -- I have an old recipe that makes a fine ice milk flavor, but the consistency, with this rudimentary ice cream maker and a home freezer, just doesn't make the same kind of product. I make it occasionally to go with another oldfashioned dessert, a "fudge wonder" pudding cake. The lean simple flavor goes well with the rich pudding-y cake.

      However, these home methods don't make the kind of texture that a good commercially frozen ice milk had (as I remember it!) Perhaps, if I got one of those massive, self-contained-freezing unit ice cream makers that cost like 800$ and are bigger than my microwave oven I could replicate it. I admit I drool over those (and chocolate tempering machines) in cooking catalogs, but I can't justify the expense and behemoth size.

      So I get good Strauss organic homemade ice milk a couple times a year. Doesn't stop the jones-ing, though! Guess this product is gone with the wide ties and leisure suits.

    2. Ahhh, Mrs. Smith, you've really hit a nerve. To avoid the rec that this get moved PRONTO to the general food board, I'll keep my posting brief. I know of no sources in SF.

      But God do I miss that stuff. It was, just as you said, not trying to be something it wasn't, it wasn't shot up with weird chemicals to make it be more like ice cream. It was ice milk, good in its own right. I have long wondered what happened to this wonderful creation.

      1. a
        Ann Vuletich

        Yes, you have hit a nerve. My very fond recollection of ice milk was having it served to me by my grandmother. She loved the stuff. I remember the little ice crystals on it. I think she used to buy it at Safeway and the brand was Lucerne (Safeway's house brand). Just did a quick yahoo search and came up with some hits involving Canada -- my grandmother was Canadian, maybe it originated there? And no, unfortunately, I don't know if you can get it any more. Haven't had or seen it for years.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Ann Vuletich

          Ah, Canadian. I grew up in Minnesota not far from the border. Perhaps that's the link I'm looking for. Thanks for the tip!

          I loved the ice crystals too!

        2. s
          Stanley Stephan

          Well, according to the site below, California produces 33 million gallons of ice milk a year. Where did it go? I think they mean low fat or non fat ice cream. I agree with you that these don't taste the same as ice milk. Last time I bought it was at Safeway.

          I'll keep an eye out for it. I'm thinking if there is some around it would be at places like drug store chains or even 7-11. I just haven't seen it in many years.

          It's funny how you notice things when they get mentioned. Someone wanted to know about halal butchers which I had never heard of before. Then I Saturday I passed by two of them on my way home from Berkeley.

          Link: http://www.dairyforum.org/cdf.html

          1 Reply
          1. re: Stanley Stephan

            Thanks for the help searching, Stanley. I, too, prowl around the freezers at places like Rite Aid and Wahlgreens, hoping someday I'll find it!

          2. I was shopping for my 90-yr.old aunt and she had requested ice milk squares dipped in chocolate. We located one brand at the grocery store in San Jose but I don't remember the brand or the store. It was either the Eskimo Pie or Isley's at either SaveMart or Albertson's. But, I do recall that it was ice milk! It's out there somewhere.

            1. At the risk of making your cravings worse by sending you after a not-quite-it substitute...When I've had ice cream from the Bombay Bazaar in the Mission ( Valencia btwn 16 and 17), it is much icier with a milkier flavor than "ice cream" of my general experience, and more akin to the icemilk I rememeber from my grandmothers icebox.

              1. At the risk of making your cravings worse by sending you after a not-quite-it substitute...When I've had ice cream from the Bombay Bazaar in the Mission ( Valencia btwn 16 and 17), it is much icier with a milkier flavor than "ice cream" of my general experience, and more akin to the icemilk I rememeber from my grandmothers icebox.

                14 Replies
                1. re: dutch

                  Great -- I've been to BB before. Any particular flavor, -- the vanilla? or any flavor? Might help with the jonesing, thanks, dutch!

                  1. re: Mrs. Smith

                    I just tried to buy ice milk and unable to find any. I figured it was a result of the shelf space necessary for all the new premium products, but I Googled it anyway. There is an interesting Seattle Times article from August 2000, that says that there has been no ice milk since 1994! It was a result of the Nutrition Labeling Act passed in 1992. Before the labeling changes, ice milk had 2-7% fat and ice cream had over 10%. Now we have nonfat, obviously 0%; low fat with a maximum of 3%; reduced fat that has either less than 25% fat of the industry average or that company's regular ice cream; and light that has at least half the fat of industry avarage. With all that in mind, it sounds like "low fat" comes the closest in fat content, but I suspect the texture is still very different.

                    I guess I'll have to stick with sherbet or learn to like ice cream!

                    1. re: NWAllis

                      I am pretty sure that Ici on College Ave has ice milk from time to time. And it is very good. I believe I had a cilantro ice milk once.

                      1. re: chocolatetartguy

                        Yum! Sounds really good!

                        Maybe this all flies if nobody tells the Ice Cream Police!

                        1. re: chocolatetartguy

                          Yes, Ici almost has one variety of ice milk.

                        2. re: NWAllis

                          Have you tried any of the non-dairy ice creams on the market? There is almond milk, rice milk, hemp milk, etc based "ice creams" with may be more in line with the ice milk flavor/texture profile.

                          1. re: NWAllis

                            I believe the "ice cream" at Nieves Cinco de Mayo in Oakland is really ice milk. Lots of really yummy flavors and inexpensive!

                            Nieves Cinco de Mayo
                            3340 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                I'm a snob who insists on only buying frozen treats with no guar/filler/stabilizers/corn syrup, which usually means premium full-fat ice cream. But I can't get enough of Nieves Cinco de Mayo. Last time I went, four of us each got a serving, and then we had to go back for an extra scoop of strawberry to share. I haven't seen any ingredients lists, so maybe it is all guar for all I know; but seeing Grandpa and Grandma mix the flavors and run the churner in the back of the little place, I doubt it. The real point is, such a light, creamy treat always hits the spot. Thank you, Ruth and other 'Hounds, for turning us on to this amazing place.

                                1. re: sandunga_rbb

                                  I really don't think they add anything weird. Everything they serve is so simple and straightforward and made right there.

                                  1. re: sandunga_rbb

                                    Corn syrup isn't really a weird ingredient- the fructose is a functional ingredient, totally altering the structural properties of the sucrose. There are other ways to get fructose, of course, but corn syrup is the cheapest and about the least intrusive in flavor, though the standard home brand,Karo syrup, does, for some reason, contain salt and vanilla.

                                    1. re: sandunga_rbb

                                      Wow! Even if commercial, packaged ice milk no longer exists, you all have given me some places to hit for good yummy stuff the next time I'm in the Bay area! (as I sit here feeding my face with local Seattle gelato!)

                                      It sounds like, too, I'll have to dig out one of my ice cream makers and try to recreate what I remember!

                                      Thanks, Mrs Smith for starting this thread!

                                  2. re: NWAllis

                                    Wow, this is an old thread to be revived.

                                    Gelato is close to ice milk in fat content.

                                    1. re: jman1

                                      Careful! Not all gelatos (gelati?) are the same! One of the packaged commercial ones in the grocery (I forget the name) is very high fat--like Hagan Daz on steroids! "Mouth feel" is more like premium ice cream, too.

                              2. LOL! I happened to try the rice milk Swiss Chocolate Almond this past weekend (had a good coupon!). Yech!!! It was awful and got worse as it softened.

                                (I had the almond egg nog last fall. Pricey, but probably the best flavor of any of the packaged ones. Maybe they have good ice cream, too...)

                                1. Recently got my first ice cream maker; I started, of course, with some Maida Heatter recipes, and was surprised at how much variance there is in the cream content- from a Vanilla recipe that contained only heavy cream, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla, to a Tangerine that was 1 part milk, one part cream,and two parts juice, to a cranberry/ orange with only 1/2 c. cream in 1 1/4 quarts of ice cream, supported by gelatin- all of them quite creamy in texture. If you really want ice milk ( which I remember with no affection at all), you'll probably get there if you try enough recipes. As far as low fat Idunno- the less cream, the more egg yolks seems to be the way it runs. I suppose the commercial product was thickened with lecithin or guar gum or some such.

                                  1. I have found vanilla, chocolate and Strawberry Ice milk at Walmart. Not as great as I remember Nana's but good.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: nanasgift

                                      since this decade old thread has been revived with a mention of the walton famiglia megacombine, Ms. Lafler's comment above is worth reinforcing -- the Michoacan style 'helados' we enjoy in various places around the Bay Area (there's a nice shop in King City as well, a bit south on the 101) are fresh made ice milks.

                                      1. re: moto

                                        I liked the Strauss ice milk at Super Duper.