Ice Cream 101 a Sort of “Science for Adults”

UNIVERSITY PARK – While its coordinator anticipates capping “Ice Cream 101: Introduction to Frozen Desserts” enrollment this year, he said what excites him the most is not the high numbers of enrollees, but the different types of people who attend annually.

“I look forward to meeting all the people,” said Bob Roberts, director of the course and associate professor of food science in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “It’s always a very interesting group of people — we get doctors and lawyers and all kinds of entrepreneurs.”

The annual course, to be held Jan. 29-30 this year at the Nittany Lion Inn on the University Park campus, will attract primarily people interested in starting in the ice cream business, or those who already have. Attendees will learn about the equipment used in the ice cream business, as well as general concepts including ice cream mix composition, ice cream freezing, how to flavor it and display it, and the importance of low-temperature frozen storage to maintain quality.

“It’s kind of like science camp for grown-ups,” Roberts said, adding that it differs from the Penn State Ice Cream Short Course, which Roberts directed in early January, in that it avoids much of the detailed science and is less intense.

“We gear it toward those involved in, or wanting to become involved in, the small-scale ice cream industry.”

Though the format of the weekend course will remain largely the same, the agricultural industry’s “growth toward natural, local-source ingredients will continue,” he said, adding that this is something participants want to learn.

Past and present Penn State faculty, along with ice cream industry representatives, will conduct the sessions. This in turn provides participants with professional networking opportunities, which Roberts said sets Penn State’s program apart from those of several other universities.

“Penn State provides such a comprehensive program that differs from that of any other in the world,” he said. “The number of applicants is always high, and this year in particular, the course is expected to fill to capacity of 80 people, and go beyond that, creating a waiting list.”

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