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"You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream." And it seems that this summer’s heatwave has sent British consumers screaming for the frozen dessert in their droves: sales of ice cream have shot up by a massive 300% this summer.

Picture of Strawberry and Basil Ice Cream

So how can you get in on the action? And what is it about frozen cream and fruit that appeals so much?

Read on to find out what’s cool in the ice cream world and give our ice cream recipe a try…

Warm weather and the demand for ice cream

There’s no doubt about it – this summer has been hot. Sweltering, in fact.

It’s been a fantastic boost for local tourism as Brits have shunned their usual beach holidays to Spain or Greece and have chosen to holiday at home in places like Devon, Wales and the Scottish Isles instead.

But when it comes to what to eat, it seems heavy food is out (Greggs has seen sales of stodgy fare like sausage rolls and pasties fall) and ice cream is in as we all try to cool down.

Get creative with flavour

It’s all about flavour in the ice cream world: according to Mintel, 94% of consumers say that’s its flavour that makes them chose which ice cream to buy.

And it seems that Brits are more than happy to go out of their comfort zone. Consumers in 2013 expect big things from their frozen treat and have developed an appetite for more daring and sophisticated flavours. As chefs try to outdo each other in the wacky stakes, here are some of the weirdest flavours we’ve come across;

  • Coronation chicken – as served by Gelupo in London to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
  • Breast milk – can be seen at several farmers markets and is sold by The Icecreamists in London who blended breast milk with vanilla and lemon zest.
  • Horse meat ice cream – not served in Britain, but can be found at markets in Tokyo.

Garlic Ice cream – Yummy Yorkshire has created this unusual concoction which is perhaps best avoided on a first date.

You don’t have to go that far, of course. Successful retailers are toying with interesting combinations like lavender and white chocolate, burnt butter and banana or fig ripple.

Watch your ingredients

When times are tough, ice cream is seen as an affordable treat. Instead of scrimping by buying cheaper tubs, it seems consumers are looking for quality and premium brands have enjoyed the biggest spike in sales.

You’ll have to pay attention to where you’re getting your ingredients from too if you’re going to appeal to today’s savvy customer who demands that their ice cream has been sourced from local producers and doesn’t contain any added nasties to help stabilise the mixture.

And health-conscious ice cream lovers are also going for lighter versions. We’ve seen a proliferation of dairy-free or low fat ice creams and frozen yogurts appear in supermarket freezers and restaurants.

Point of sale

There’s also something to be said about paying attention to your point of sale. We’re all familiar with the happy sound of an ice cream truck pulling up, but with so much competition it’s important to stand out from the pack.

Claire Kelsey did just that with Ginger’s Comfort Emporium – an unmissable vintage-style van which tours the country selling ice creams with tempting names like Kendal Calling (a mint and chocolate flavour) and Marmalade on Toast.

Her concoctions and unique brand have been a hit: Ginger’s Comfort Emporium has just released an ice cream recipe book and the brand has won the British Street Food Awards twice.

Practical considerations

With the right ice cream maker, there’s no need to buy pre-made tubs from your supplier, and your customers will love that your ice cream is genuinely homemade. Just source the best ingredients you can get your hands on, throw them into the ice cream maker and let it do the work for you.

Picture of Robot Coupe Ice Cream & Sorbet Machine 0.75litre

A note of caution, though: ice cream may be popular, but transporting it and keeping it at the right temperature can be costly, so make sure you do all your sums before offering it on your menu. Letting your ice cream thaw out and re-freeze will create ice crystals (the enemy of good ice cream) and give it a grainy texture.

And be careful when adding alcohol to ice cream, as it may stop your mixture from freezing properly. If you want to make your dessert boozy, add the alcohol into a sauce which you can pour on top of the ice cream instead.

Make it: two-step summertime strawberry ice cream recipe  

Think of ice cream as a blank canvas. Once you’ve perfected the technique with a basic recipe, you can start to get a bit more daring, adding new flavours and fruits.

Here we’ve kept it fairly simple to start you off with a seasonal strawberry and basil ice cream – just what’s called for on a balmy summer’s day.

We’ve also left out the eggs (so it’s technically a gelato, not an ice cream) to keep the dessert nice and light.

To make one litre, you’ll need:
  • 500 grams of strawberries
  • A small bunch (about a handful) of fresh basil leaves
  • 600ml double cream
  • 280 grams of caster sugar

Method:

  1. Blend the strawberries and basil into a puree, stir in the sugar and cream and whisk until it's well mixed.
  2. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Has the warm weather affected your sales this summer?


Comments

Lockhart Catering on 9 August 2013 9:29 AM

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