Monday, July 20, 2009

Space Camp Alum Reports on Astronaut Ice Cream in Honor of the Anniversary of the Moon Landing

Bethany's husband Kevin joins us today with this guest post about "astronaut ice cream" in honor of this very special space exploration occasion. Happy 40th Anniversary, First Moon Landing!

In honor of the anniversary of the moon landing, I eagerly volunteered to write about freeze-dried ice cream. The ice cream I bought was labeled "Astronaut Ice Cream", but that is likely more of a brand than a description. It's clear that astronauts opted for the real stuff as soon as it was possible.

[Full disclosure: I did attend Space Camp in 1988, which might make me more qualified for this post than an actual astronaut.]

I think ice cream is all about ratios: water, air, fat, sugar, binders, and flavors. If you're some sort of food wizard, you could play with the ratios and decrease the amount of any ingredient with a pretty good outcome. There are fat free, sugar free, and dairy free ice creams, but to me that ruins the fun. To me the magic in ice cream is in the high ratio of milk fat to low price, and everything else is along for the ride. However, what happens when science enters the novelty dessert business and blow away the ingredient that none of us cared about anyway?

No ice cream review should include the words lyophilization or sublimation, so let's delve right into the ice cream itself. Let's start with a chart of what happens when you leave ice cream at room temperature:

That's right, it's all in the shelf life. The scale for time is in logarithmic weeks, so while your bowl of ice cream, and the people who made it, have long since passed on, the freeze-dried ice cream enthusiast still has an option.

To the science purists reading here:
  • The units on tastiness is not labeled, but it is indeed scaled in International Kevin Tastiness Units, or IKTU.
  • If you do the math on the x axis, this chart goes to ~1.9 trillion years. You will likely have to repackage your ice cream at least a few times during this period.
Enjoying freeze-dried ice cream is a bit different of a process. Since it isn't wet, you just grab it with your fingers and shovel. It's firm, but crumbles easily and tastes good. It still has the magic ratio of fats and sugars after all, but it doesn't necessarily taste like ice cream. Strawberry kind of tastes like strawberry, but it mostly just tastes like freeze-dried ice cream. Though, I can vouch that if you cram enough of it in your mouth at one time, the ice cream somewhat reconstitutes, just without the risk of brain freeze.

In short, this is good stuff. You should make a beeline to your nearest science museum and buy some, I know I will. Just don't spend too much time picking it out, I promise you it's still good and the ice cream sandwich is basically the same thing as the neopolitan.

Guess I am eating alone tonight, since it seems like Kevin is off at the Boston Museum of Science buying "astronaut" ice cream. Thanks for the post, Kev!

[Scoopalicious is celebrating National Ice Cream month with a Post-A-Day throughout the month of July!]

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

When I was young, I always wanted to buy the astronaut ice cream and give it a try...I opted to use my allowance elsewhere (origami paper was a main expenditure at the time). I loved this post, very nostalgic and fun - the picture is so cute. I'm glad to have discovered a well-designed and well-written blog dedicated to one of life's greatest indulgences (dulce de leche is my favorite flavor). :)


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