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Enjoy tasty frozen desserts during June dairy month

My 11-year-old daughter and I huddled around our electric ice cream maker, head to head. We watched the paddle rotate its way through the slowly thickening cream and sugar mixture.

Unfortunately, the ice cream did not freeze any faster under our careful scrutiny.

My daughter was working on a 4-H food science project. I was curious whether the recipe would turn out in an electric ice cream maker and with added strawberries.

We are not alone in liking ice cream. According to the International Dairy Foods Association, about 1.6 billion gallons of frozen dairy products are produced annually in the United States.

Frozen desserts have been popular since someone created a snow-cone-like dessert in the second century B.C. In ancient Rome, snow from the mountains was flavored with fruit and juice.

Some historians trace a dessert similar to modern-day ice cream to 16th century Europe. The recipe had evolved from one that Marco Polo brought to Italy after trips to the Far East. In the 17th century, "cream ice" as it was called, was regularly served at the table of Charles I.

Now, we have many frozen dessert choices and the products must be labeled appropriately. To be labeled "ice cream," a food must have 10 percent milk fat by weight and a gallon must weigh at least 4.5 pounds.

"Premium" ice cream usually contains more than 12 percent milk fat, so it is higher in calories and fat.

Ice cream labeled "frozen custard" or "French ice cream" must have 10 percent milk fat and 1.4 percent egg yolk solids by weight.

Sherbets are lower in fat, with 1 percent or 2 percent milk fat required. Most types of sherbet have a higher sweetener content and weigh about 6 pounds per gallon.

Gelato is a frozen dessert with more milk than cream and sweeteners, egg yolks and flavorings. Sorbets or ices contain no dairy ingredients.

Frozen desserts vary widely in calorie and fat content, so read the labels.

Enjoy some ice cream during June, National Dairy Month. Practice your ice cream making (or eating) skills because June paves the way for July, National Ice Cream Month.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)By