The differences in nutritional information for custard and ice cream are that custard contains fewer calories than ice cream, more protein and calcium than ice cream and less fat and carbs. The main difference when it comes to custard and ice cream ingredients is the egg yolk.
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Custard has at least 1.4 percent egg yolk, according to Consumer Reports, though the consistency of the custard itself may vary. Ice cream contains less than 1.4 percent egg yolk and has a thick consistency.
Custard always contains some mix of egg yolk, milk and cream. It may be super viscous or thick, or it may be runny. It contains a large amount of sugar as well, which makes many custards quite sweet. However, it can also be savory in some cases.
Ice cream, on the other hand, contains milk and cream but little or no egg yolk. It is also made in a freezer, has plenty of sugar and is sweet, never savory.
Custard Nutritional Information
Custard nutritional information is similar to nutritional information for ice cream. They both have milk products in them, so they both have lactose. And they're both nonvegan, but they do work in an ovo-lacto vegetarian meal plan.
Calorie counts are little more complicated when it comes to custard vs. ice cream. The calorie content of each depends on the specific flavor, although custard generally supplies fewer calories than ice cream.
According to USDA FoodData Central, the nutrients supplied by a 1-cup (244-gram) serving of custard include:
- Calories: 229
- Protein: 12.3 grams
- Total fat: 8.15 grams
- Saturated fat: 3.79 grams
- Cholesterol: 176 milligrams
- Carbohydrates: 26.8 grams
- Sugar: 27.1 grams
- Calcium: 276 milligrams
- Potassium: 359 milligrams
- Sodium: 222 milligrams
Ice Cream Nutritional Information
Nutritional information for a 1-cup (132-gram) serving of vanilla ice cream includes:
- Calories: 274
- Protein: 4.62 grams
- Total fat: 14.52 grams
- Saturated fat: 8.96 grams
- Cholesterol: 58 milligrams
- Carbohydrates: 31.2 grams
- Sugar: 28 grams
- Calcium: 169 milligrams
- Potassium: 262 milligrams
- Sodium: 105.6 milligrams
Custard vs. Ice Cream
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has its own standards for identifying these foods. Ice cream is considered to be produced by freezing and stirring a pasteurized mix that has one or more optional dairy ingredients in it.
These optional dairy ingredients consist of a range of products, including all types of milk: buttermilk, skim, sweetened, evaporated, concentrated and condensed. It also includes cream, such as plastic cream, which isn't actually plastic but is just concentrated milk fat.
For a product to be considered ice cream by the FDA, it should have at least 10 percent milk fat and weigh at least 4.5 pounds per gallon. Ice cream should also not have more than 1.4 percent egg yolk, by weight, if it has any yolk at all. Once it goes over 1.4 percent egg yolk, then it is considered custard.
Consumer Reports also has something to say about ice cream made from goat's milk. It is made the same way as ice cream, except that the optional dairy ingredients should exclusively come from goat's milk.
As long as what you're eating is packaged and labeled as either frozen custard or ice cream, you can be assured that this is what you're eating. On the other hand, if you see a package that says "frozen dairy dessert," rather than "frozen custard" or "frozen ice cream," then it may not technically be either ice cream or custard, according to the FDA.
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A Note on Gelato
Gelato is often confused with ice cream, as Consumer Reports states. While the two are related, gelato, particularly the Italian version, is much creamier and lighter. It is so light, in fact, that it can easily be spread. Gelato also contains a lot less air and butterfat than ice cream, with a maximum of about 9 percent and a minimum of 4 percent.
Gelato is typically served at a slightly higher temperature than regular ice cream. In addition, gelato is frequently made and served fresh, rather than being packaged for long periods. In fact, many contend that it is more delicious when served fresh.
According to the USDA FoodData Central, gelato nutrition for a 1-cup serving (192 grams) includes:
- Calories: 380
- Protein: 8 grams
- Total fat: 18 grams
- Saturated fat: 12 grams
- Cholesterol: 99.8 milligrams
- Carbohydrates: 48 grams
- Sugar: 48 grams
- Calcium: 199.6 milligrams
- Potassium: Not listed
- Sodium: 99.8 milligrams
Differences in Consistency
The consistency between the two varies, according to Rochester Institute of Technology Dining, though the variation in consistency in individual custard dishes is probably more pronounced than the variation between custard and ice cream. Custard has a wide range of consistencies, sometimes being nothing more than a thin sauce you can pour into a bowl and sometimes being very thick, pasty and creamy.
The thickest custard is frozen custard, which is produced in an ice cream maker of sorts. It is specifically made in a soft serve ice cream maker and has a creamy consistency with quite a bit of density about it. It is also commonly served at about 18 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ice cream, on the other hand, is always made in an ice cream maker. Soft-serve ice cream, therefore, is smooth and fluffy, while standard ice cream is creamy and dense. Ice cream is commonly served at 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
The egg content determines the thickness of the custard, with more egg yolk often meaning thicker custard. To get a viscous, pasty cream, however, you will need more than just eggs; you'll also need starch.
To get crème patissiere, you can add different flavors, such as chocolate or vanilla, to custard. If you want crème anglaise collee, you'll have to add gelatin. You can, of course, make frozen custard from all of these ingredients by making it in a soft-serve ice cream maker. You can also make savory custard such as quiche.
Ice cream has two main variations: soft-serve and regular ice cream. Soft-serve ice creams generally contain a lot less butterfat than their regular counterparts. They usually have about 5 percent butterfat, whereas regular ice cream has about 10 percent. Soft serve also has a lighter texture than regular ice cream because of all the air that's introduced during the freezing process.
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- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21: Part 135 -- Frozen Desserts"
- Consumer Reports: "What’s the Difference Between Ice Cream, Frozen Custard, and Gelato?"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Custard"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Ice Creams, Vanilla"
- Rochester Institute of Technology Dining: "Gracie's Ice Cream Bar"