Though often referred to as ice cream, soft serve is not actually ice cream in the traditional sense, but rather a close relative with similar ingredients, properties and flavors. There are some distinct differences between ice cream and soft serve.
Soft serve ice cream is similar to traditional ice cream except that it is created and served at a warmer temperature. Since taste buds can better detect flavors at this slightly warmer temperature, soft serve consumers experience more enhanced flavors than with traditional ice cream. Soft serve is essentially created in the soft serve machine from a liquid or powder mix that is mixed and cooled in the machine and then extruded from the machine into swirls of the delicious treat served in either a dish or a cone.
John F. McCullough, the man who founded Dairy Queen, is credited with creating soft serve ice cream.
Soft serve's ingredients are corn syrup, whey, monoglycerides and diglycerides (emulsifiers), artificial flavors, guar gum, calcium sulfate, cellulose gum, polysorbates 65 and 80 (emulsifiers), carrageenan, magnesium hydroxide and air pumped into the mixture as it crystallizes.
A single, 1-cup (188 g) serving of Dairy Queen vanilla soft serve ice cream is estimated to contain 280 calories and approximately 9 g of fat, 30 mg of cholesterol, 140 mg of sodium, 44 g of total carbohydrates and 6 g of protein. It also provides 30 percent of the recommended daily allowance of calcium, 20 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A, and 8 percent of the recommended daily allowance of iron.
Soft serve ice cream contains less milk fat than traditional ice cream—usually 3 to 6 percent milk fat in soft serve as compared to 10 to 18 percent milk fat in ice cream. It also contains a lot more air.