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Dive into the delicious world of ice cream

ice cream

Ice cream is far and away the dessert of choice here in Canada – beloved by every section of the population, regardless of demographic. Every small town, city neighbourhood and urban street has its go-to ice cream spot, frequented by locals who never seem to be in a bad mood. (It’s hard to feel down around ice cream).

Yet, for its meteoric popularity, how much does the average Canadian know about the ubiquitous treat? For instance, did you know that most of the “ice cream” in supermarkets can’t actually be called ice cream? Or that modern descriptions of ice cream encompass vegan dishes with no actual cream at all?

In this article, we delve into the delicious world of ice cream: designations, types, flavours and quality indicators. Grab a spoon and dig in!

True Ice Cream vs. “Frozen Desserts” and Other Imitations

It might shock you to learn that the ice cream aisle at your local grocery store contains less and less real ice cream.

Ice cream is a strict and protected designation here in Canada, referring to dishes made with dairy, eggs and other natural ingredients. Yet, most brands use ingredients like palm kernel oil to add richness, meaning they can only call themselves “frozen desserts.” Some brands skirt around the subject by not even mentioning ice cream or dessert on the package – they simply have a brand name and a photograph of what looks like ice cream.

Even within the world of actual ice creams, there’s a qualitative sliding scale. Some brands use skim milk powder as their dairy product, resulting in an inferior product. Craft artisanal ice creams, meanwhile, use local dairy and other whole ingredients.

Ice Cream, Gelato, Sorbetto and Sorbet

To complicate matters, ice cream isn’t always ice plus cream. In popular vernacular, ice cream can refer to a subset of iced treats, including (but not limited to) Italian Gelatos and Sorbettos, sherbets and sorbets.

These latter ice cream treats are 100 percent vegan, eschewing the dairy products and using fruit pectin instead to add body and richness.

Common (and Not-So-Common) Ice Cream Flavours

We all know the basics: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, mint chocolate chip, etc. Together, these represent the most popular choice across Canada as a whole.

But some modern brands are innovating in the Canadian ice cream space, churning out products (pun intended) inspired by global flavours. Take Scooped by Demetres, for instance – a Toronto-based artisanal ice cream maker that uses ingredients like cajeta (Mexican goat cheese), Sicilian blood oranges, rose petals, maple-smoked sea salt and earl grey tea to make forward-thinking ice creams.

How to Spot Great Ice Cream in Canada

As mentioned, look for the words “ice cream.” At a bare minimum, this tells you you’re receiving something made with dairy. Alternatively, look for a high-quality sorbetto/gelato maker that uses fresh fruit purees.

Next, look for innovation. Find an ice cream brand unafraid to comingle unexpected flavours with time-tested classics. And lastly, look for local artisans continuing the long tradition of making ice cream the old-fashioned way – adhering to painstaking processes and strict ingredient selection to create something magical.

This content is a joint venture between our publication and our partner. We do not endorse any product or service in the article.