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Oct 5, 2012 08:45 AM

root beer floats

This isn't cooking, per se, but it's very annoying. When I make root beer floats the ice cream turns to ice crystals. What am I doing wrong? Thanks, Mary Mac

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      1. re: marymac

        I'm inclined to agree with sunshine842 below... the root beer is freezing a little. But you could try it with a denser, higher fat ice cream to see if the texture improves.

    1. I think it's because the ice crystals in the ice cream form "nucleation" sites for the root beer to grab onto - similar to the principle of seeding melted chocolate with tempered chocolate to temper it.

      1. I remember going to the Dog 'n' Suds drive-in and having them bring root bear in icy mugs -- you could see ice chips floating in the root beer -- the mug was so cold that it froze paper-thin layers of rootbeer at the edges of the glass, that then broke free and floated into the root beer ( good on a hot muggy night!)

        I think it's the same thing -- the ice cream freezes a little bit of the rootbeer...and it's one of my favorite parts.

        4 Replies
        1. re: sunshine842

          That could be it! I use frozen beer mugs for my floats.

          1. re: marymac

            Even at the old A&W Root Beer stands of long ago when they served floats or just root beer in frosted mugs, that didn't happen. They served soft serve ice cream so I doubt that it is the quality of the ice cream.

            Some of the ice might come off the mug but it wouldn't seem like it had turned the ice cream to ice crystals.

            1. re: Hank Hanover

              No, it shouldn't. It wasn't just a little. Every bit of ice cream was a piece of ice. I have never had that happen.

              1. re: marymac

                ah -- I've only ever seen it as just a light crust. Didn't realize you meant it was all frozen!

                Richer ice cream might be an answer (less water/skim milk = lower freeze temperature)

        2. You're not doing anything wrong except, perhaps, selecting an ice cream that is closer to ice milk than ice cream. All ice cream products contain a certain amount of water and the lower the fat content of the ice cream the greater is its likelihood to form ice crystals in your float. However, if the root beer is cold, the glass is cold and the ice cream is cold you're gonna get some amount of ice crystals, regardless of how hard you try not to.

          3 Replies
          1. re: todao

            Mmmmm...think I'll put ice cream in a cold glass and add room temperature rootbeer. Maybe that'll work.

            1. re: marymac

              That's what I normally do. I don't like drinks too cold. They seem to lose their refreshing qualities when they're too cold.

              1. re: todao

                Ahhhh....much better, thanks all!

          2. I know I'm late to the discussion, but I worked in a Dairy Queen for five years back in the 1980's, and we were always taught (and I still believe) that the ice crystal crust is the best part of the float. They always warned us not to use soft serve and to make sure the ice cream we used in the float was as hard as possible or it wouldn't form as many crystals, so I guess if you want to not have crystals the best thing is to follow the opposite advice: use soft serve ice cream or let the hard ice cream start to soften up. I find that diet root beer makes more crystals as well, so you might want to stick with the regular kind; but to be honest no matter what kind of ice cream and root beer you use there will always be some crystals present. You might want to make an ice cream soda instead of a float if you really don't like the ice crystals.