From Cow to Cone: ice cream technology
A college course about ice cream? Is this yet another frivolous course that exists only in order to acquire college credits? A professor who has lost their grip on reality a little? No, this is a 119-year-old course whose alumni read like a who’s who of the ice cream industry: Ben and Jerry’s, Baskin-Robbins, Haagen-Dazs, Hershey, Nestlé, Dairy Queen and most other well-known ice cream manufacturers. Apart from the big boys, mom and pop operations can also attend the course to learn the secrets of ice cream making.
Penn State University’s Ice Cream Short Course is the largest, oldest and best-known educational program in the technology and science of ice cream. It’s only a 7-day course, but it is crammed full of frozen dessert industry wisdom and techniques. It starts every year in January, not to keep the ice cream cold but due to its 1892 origins as a general dairy farming course, January being the time back then when ‘farm work is least pressing and the boys can best be spared’. It is also the slowest time of year for the ice cream industry and thus a good time for learning.
The course is hands-on, with the Berkey Creamery serving as the laboratory. Here students learn flavoring, refrigeration, hardening techniques, food safety aspects related to ice cream, production and quality control, mix processing, sugars and sweeteners, ice cream physics, stabilizers and emulsifiers, food microbiology, gelato, novelties, soft serve, frozen yogurts and non-standardized frozen desserts/non-dairy ice cream.
Penn State’s Department of Food Science also offers a 2-day taster course called Ice Cream 101 which provides anyone who’s interested with the basics of ice cream composition, formulation and processing. This course doesn’t have all the nuances of the full-fat version, but it’s enough to give you brain freeze and it could start you on a path towards serious ice cream making. Scoop up your registration today.