Degustation – like a real sommelier of ice cream

Most of us are used to eating ice cream straight from the tub – on the odd occasion you might scoop it into a bowl, but it’s rare! Should you fancy yourself an ice cream conniseour, you can try the following degustation.

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First and most important is that the ice cream for the degustation is appropriately stored – at no more than –18°С at any time from its production to its consumption. If you see crystals, after opening the lid, the ice cream is absolutely worthy for consumption, but not for fine degustation.

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Shape scoops from each flavour and leave them at room temperature for a few minutes. Have ready several spoons for the different ice creams. In order to fully appreciate the quality and flavor of the ice cream do not add additional ingredients such as fruits, chocolate sprinkles, syrups etc.

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The degustation of ice cream, like that of fine wine or gourmet food, starts with the eyes. Look thoroughly into the surface of each scoop of ice cream – the ideal consistency should be smooth with almost unnoticeable crumbles. Non-homogenous, watery or a finely frosted surface is a sign of low or deteriorated quality. In a few minutes, the slight roughness will start to appetizingly soften, while the ice cream scoop will contain its shape. Even when completely melted, the natural ice cream turns into a delicious, dense and rich cream and never into a watery liquid with foam on top.

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With your spoon taste a small amount of the ice cream – not more than a tea spoon. When having a degustation, the first mouthful is always small, in order to best feel the unfolding of the flavour. While it is gently melting in your mouth for a few seconds, try to assess two characteristics – temperature and structure. The temperature should be pleasantly cool, not too chilly. The ice cream should melt slowly into a creamy consistency, which you can test by pressing your tongue gently to your palate. If the ice cream is excessively cold and melts too quickly, this is probably due to high water content. If on the other hand it is not sufficiently cool and reminds you of a foam or mousse, then this is a sign of excessive air (the input of air makes the ice cream softer for scooping and more enjoyable, but if too much, deprives it from density).

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Touch the palate with your tongue, just like you would strike a surface or material and try to assess the texture. What is the consistency like? Creamy and smooth or grainy and sandy? The sandy, called also “floury” taste is a sign of high content of powder milk or imbalanced dry matter (e.g. milk protein). The same thing might occur if the ice cream has been thawed and refrozen. Besides spoiling the structure, it does not make the ice cream non-suitable for consumption. Beware however, if you feel on your palate a thin greasy film – this might be a sign of hydrogenated fat content, which should be avoided by all means.

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Aftertaste – swallow the ice cream and before the next mouthful try to assess the balance of sweetness – is it enough or is it too much? If the sugar or sweetener content is too high, after swallowing a strongly expressed sweetness will be left in your mouth. It “covers” the finer nuances and aromas and dulls the taste receptors at the front end of the tongue.

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To make sure no one flavor overpowers the other, carry out the degustation in the following order: 1. Vanilla, cream, yoghurt; 2. Tender fruit such as strawberry; 3. Nuts – pistachio, nougat; 4. Sour fruit as cherry, grapefruit; 5. Caramel; 6. Chocolate (always last)!

In between each variety “clean” the palate with a small sip of coffee, water or an olive.