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A Guide to Frozen Dairy Products

Updated on March 27, 2011

No one really knows for sure how long ice cream or other frozen treats have been around. Some historians say that Nero made a sweet concoction of snow, honey, and fruit way back in the first century. Others cite Marco Polo as introducing frozen fruit treats to Europeans in the thirteenth century. Supposedly, the wily Asians had been enjoying these goodies for thousands of years.

What we do know for sure is that the governor of Maryland served ice cream to visitors to his home in 1700, and the first ice cream parlor in America opened in 1776, in New York City. It didn’t take ice cream long to catch on. By 1812, First Lady Dolly Madison served it at the White House.

Today, the traditional ice cream has expanded into frozen yogurts, frozen custards, gelatos, sherbets, and low-fat and fat-free frozen dairy treats. As far as nutrition goes, frozen desserts vary widely, depending on their milk content. Most contain protein, calcium, and vitamins A, B2, and B12. The fat content ranges from 0 to 16%, about half of which is saturated fat.

Ice creams and other frozen dairy desserts are often judged by their butterfat or milkfat content – the fat part of milk. Typically, the more milkfat the product contains, the richer and more expensive it is.

Below are some popular frozen dairy desserts. Their milkfat content and their freezer life are included.


frozen custard
frozen custard

Frozen custard


Frozen custard is made with cream, sugar, egg yolks, and flavorings. It’s at least 10% milkfat and 1.4% egg yolk. It has much less air pumped into it than ice cream does, so frozen custard is creamier, softer, and smoother. Keep it in the freezer for up to 4 months.


frozen yogurt
frozen yogurt

Frozen Yogurt

Frozen yogurt is a soft-serve dessert that was first served in the 1970s, in the United States. It contains yogurt, along with other dairy products. Unlike ice cream, frozen yogurt usually contains no cream, so the fat content is lower. Keep frozen yogurt in your freezer for 1-3 months.




Gelato is the Italian version of ice cream. It’s made of milk, cream, sweeteners, fruits, and nuts. It has less fat than ice cream, at 4-8% milkfat. Gelato often contains egg yolks, also. Because it’s processed differently, gelato contains much less air than ice cream, resulting in a denser product. Authentic gelato deteriorates quickly and can kept in the freezer for only a few days.

ice cream
ice cream

Ice cream


Ice cream is a frozen mixture of cream, milk, and flavorings that might include fruits, spices, nuts, or chocolates. In the U.S., ice cream is sweetened. To be labeled as “ice cram,” the mixture must contain more than 10% milkfat. Some premium or gourmet ice creams contain as much as 16% milkfat. Most ice creams are actually around 50% air. Ice cream should maintain its flavor and texture for 2-4 months in the freezer.


low-fat ice cream
low-fat ice cream

Ice milk or low-fat ice cream


Ice milk was the term previously used for the frozen dairy product that’s now referred to as “low-fat ice cream.” To be labeled as such, it must contain less than 10% milkfat. Many low fat and fat-free versions are available in large grocery stores. Ice creams with low fat content won’t usually keep as well in the freezer. It’s best to use it within 2 months.




Sherbet is usually made from fruit, water, sweeteners, and milk or cream. It must include enough milk or cream to result in at least 1% milkfat but not over 2% milkfat. Some sherbets also contain egg whites or gelatin to improve their texture. Sherbet will keep for about 2 months in the freezer.

A cooking ingredient?


Yes! You can cook ice cream and other frozen desserts! Baked Alaska and fried ice cream are just two popular examples. I make an awesome frozen chocolate-peanut butter pie that requires ice cream or frozen yogurt as the main ingredient. Ice cream is also often part of other frozen pies and cakes, and of course, it makes a great topping for warm fruit dishes and cobblers. And ice cream, frozen custard, sherbet, and frozen yogurt can turn fresh fruits like peaches, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries into something special!


How to store frozen dairy desserts


The freezer life of frozen dairy desserts is listed above, but keep in mind that all-natural products that lack preservatives won’t keep as long. Even though it might still be safe to eat, the flavor and texture will be largely unappealing.


To help maintain the quality of your ice cream or other frozen dairy treat after opening, cover the entire container tightly in plastic cling wrap. Next, place the box in a plastic container with a lid. You can find these that exactly fit a standard half-gallon ice cream container. If you don’t have a suitable plastic container, wrap the original box in aluminum foil.


Unusual frozen dairy treats


Manufacturers and chefs have come up with some very interesting types of ice creams and flavors for frozen desserts. Some are made from buffalo milk, goat milk, and sheep milk, while others use unusual ingredients for adding flavor. Check out these unusual flavors of ice cream:


Avocado ice cream


Jalapeno ice cream


Lavender ice cream


Cherry blossom ice cream


Peanut ice cream


Red bean ice cream


Sweet corn ice cream


Pineapple-basil ice cream


Wasabi ice cream


Rose water ice cream


Sweet potato ice cream


Of course, if you have your own ice cream churn, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination!


For delicious easy-to-make ice cream recipes, along with recipes for desserts that go great with ice cream, click the links below!







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    • profile image

      anil rathee 5 years ago

      yah i make the frozen milk products..........

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Nancy!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Thanks, Jen! I have a special affinity to ice cream!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Buckie, you know I just have to be the odd ball!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      2besure, thanks for that!

    • nancy_30 profile image

      nancy_30 7 years ago from Georgia

      Great hub. I learned a lot from it. The pictures were also great.

    • JenDobson27 profile image

      JenDobson27 7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing Habee! My favorite thing to eat for dessert is ice cream :) I just can't get enough of the stuff.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Washington

      Great, great, great again - glad to see something different in the hubs on dairy. Sweet potato? Wow! Amazing.

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      Great information on ice cream. The photos pull you right in!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      I said the same thing, Suzie!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      HH, did you see my hub about easy homemade ice cream??

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Aww...thanks, Ethel!

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 7 years ago from Asheville, NC

      The photos are making me hungry. I wouldn't mind trying the sweet potato one. Good one, Habee.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      I decided tomorrow I will venture into the icecream-making world. Wish me luck. I am itching to do it for long time but now I take the leap.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I had to rate this one high. I love ALL ice creams. The images here are so appetising. Yummy