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Nov 10, 2005 02:33 PM

Is soft-serve ever REALLY frozen custard?

  • r

I thought I could tell you in a second until a poster on the SF board called Foster's Freeze frozen custard.

I was about to explain that frozen custard is richer and has eggs and that Foster Freeze was soft-serve ice cream and not frozen custard.

Looking to back up my statement with some facts on the web ... quelle horror ... it seems I really don't know what frozen custard is.

I mean, growing up on the East Coast, I always considered Carvel frozen custard and Dairy Queen ... not. When I travel in the Mid-west, that rich decadent eggy soft ice cream is frozen custard to me ... and they call it that.

However, places that sell frozen custard talk about the method and temperature as well as the ingrediants.

Frozen custard supposedly has little "overrun", the air beaten into the custard. It is not held in the custard machine, but mixed, extruded into buckets and held at a temperature of about 20 degrees.

Also, reading this article about frozen custard and a shop called Custard Beach makes me think I have never tasted real frozen custard ... or at least not real quality frozen custard.

Interesting story about how Carvel came up with the idea for soft-serve.

So is frozen custard just the government definition - ice cream with eggs? Or is it more?


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  1. Carvel as frozen custard? Ick! Ever since the first time I saw someone on the L.A. board refer to frozen custard as "soft serve" (which nearly sent me into a rage), I've tried to accept that there are great regional differences in frozen custard. That said, I still have trouble accepting anything other than the sort of frozen custard I was raised on in Milwaukee as "real" frozen custard.

    I guess someone going to Kopps (or one of the other custard stands in Wisconsin) for the first time might think that the custard is like soft serve because at Kopps they just let the custard run right from the freezer into the buckets from which they serve. I remember them often scooping straight from the ribbon of custard as it is extruded from the freezer. If you don't get it that way, it is scooped from a container like other scooped ice cream.

    In my humble opinion, if you've only had "frozen custard" that comes out of a soft serve machine, you are really missing out. And now I'm really looking forward to visiting Wisconsin over the holidays!

    6 Replies
    1. re: jnovgirl


      Don't forget about Ted Drewe's in St. Louis, MO.

      1. re: jnovgirl

        Hate to break it to you... but as an amateur home ice cream maker, I can tell you that nearly every high quality ice cream that you make at home (or buy in the store) is in fact frozen cusatard.

        Virtually every flavor I have made at home starts with a base of cream/milk, sugar and egg yolks, cooked over slow and low heat until it turns thick. It is what you steep in the custard that makes the flavor of the ice cream-- whether it be vanilla beans, orange peel, ginger, green tea, etc.

        Mr. Taster

        1. re: Mr. Taster

          That's just not true. Most homemade fruit ice cream -recipes use a Philly-style base, and the best vanilla-bean ice creams do, as well, so as not to have an eggy flavor interfering with the vanilla. It's purely a matter of taste.

          1. re: Mr. Taster

            I think the OP was talking more about a dessert specifically called "frozen custard," not so much the technical fact of whether a custard is used in making ice cream.

            Frozen custard is created more like gelato, so there are differences in terms of drawing temperature and storage temperature, as well as overrun (custard has less air). Plus if you call something "custard" you will probably put in more egg yolks because people expect that taste.

            One note on homemade ice cream making: I have a copy of the Ben and Jerry's cookbook. They specify eggs in their recipes, but they do not heat the mix to form a custard. It might be that they pre-pasteurize the eggs before they make the ice cream, but their recipes are Philadelphia-style.

            1. re: cornflower

              This is the second time someone mentioned the term 'Philly-style". What does that mean? What ice cream parlors would serve Philly-style ice cream?

              1. re: rworange

                Philadelphia-style ice cream is ice cream that isn't made with a cooked custard base. It also doesn't contain any egg yolks, so my use of the term in the earlier post might not have been technically correct.

                It is based on milk/cream, sugar, and other flavorings. Since you don't add egg yolks to the mix and heat it the way you would a custard, it is easier to make.

                Most ice cream parlors use a commercial pasteurized mix, even when they make the ice cream on-premises. There are different methods of pasteurization which involve different temperatures. However, just because egg yolks are added to the mix doesn't mean that the mix is heated to a custard.

        2. carl's frozen custard in virginia is most definately frozen custard and most definately softserve. they use vintage freeze o matic machines. ohhhh so delishush.

          1. m
            Michele Cindy

            If you grew up in NJ, a trip to the beach wasn't complete until you had a Kohrs cone. My favorite was blackberry. They now have a branch at our local mall, flavors are few, but it just doesn't seem the same without the salt air smell.


            2 Replies
            1. re: Michele Cindy

              I had a Kohrs cone in Cape May this weekend. Shore tasted good. I believe Kohrs is real frozen custard, although it is strictly soft serve.

              1. re: Michele Cindy

                Ohhh, Kohr's!! Love the orange/vanilla twist.

              2. j
                JK Grence (the Cosmic Jester)

                Ah, one of my favorite topics, ice cream...

                Frozen custard is always soft-serve ice cream, but soft-serve ice cream is not always frozen custard. Regular soft serve ice creams are held in the freezing container; frozen custard is extruded out of the machine and either held in a freezer or served straight from the extruder. Frozen custard is richer (due to the eggs in the mix), and due to low overrun has a very silky, lush mouthfeel.


                1. c
                  ChowFun (derek)

                  I've posted it before..but here is a website devoted to REAL custard!