In dairy ice cream, butter or milk fat is the fat that must be used, but in standard ice cream, other fats can be used as well and these are discussed in more detail below. Fats are used in ice cream to increase the richness of flavour, to give smooth texture to the product and to help imparting body. They also increase the food value of the product.

The quality of the fat used is very important. If the melting point is too high, or it melts over a wide temperature range, the ice cream made from it will have a waxy or greasy taste. For this reason, it is desirable to use a fat which melts quickly and which melts below body temperature (37°C). At the same time, the flavour of the fat is important and in general it should be bland. Otherwise, the flavour of the fat itself may detract from the delicate flavour of the finished ice cream. Where margarines are used, the unsalted varieties are employed and it is customary for the fat manufacturer to incorporate colour and butter flavour into the product. Finally it is essential that the fat does not develop or pick up off-flavours or rancid flavours in storage. For this reason, it is necessary for the ice cream fat to be properly refined from suitable oils, and for the fats to be stored under good conditions. Fats should be stored as cool as possible in a dry, well-ventilated area.

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