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What is butterfat?

Butterfat is without reservation one of the main ingredient in ice cream. Butterfat is what makes ice cream smooth and creamy. In addition, the presence butterfat also enables air to be incorporated into the ice cream. For the benefit of those who may not be aware, air is an important component in ice cream although I will dither to describe it as an “ingredient”.

Inadequate butterfat may cause iciness in ice cream. [Icy defect in ice cream can also be cause by other factors]  Under the US law, a product can only be labeled as “ice cream” if it contains a minimum 10% butterfat. Therefore gelato is technically not “ice cream” in US because gelato generally contains about 8% butterfat.

What is butterfat and where to find butterfat? Butterfat is simply fats in milk. Butterfat can found in most milk related product. I have compiled a list of milk related products that contain butterfat.

This is ghee. Some “prataman” uses this to fry their prata.



Butterfat Content


Skim Milk

Almost 0%


Low Fat Milk

1% – 2%


Whole Milk (Normal Milk)

3%  – 3.5%


Half and Half

`~ 18%


Whipping cream

33% – 38%







To make ice cream, you need to use either half and half or whipping cream. Whole milk does not contribute enough butterfat. Whipping cream can be found in most supermarkets; [NTUC; Cold Storage; Sheng Siong] or bakery supplier like Phoon Huat [Do not confuse this with whipped cream]. 1000ml of whipping cream cost about $7 – $10 depending on the brand. Half and half is a little more uncommon in Singapore. So far, i have only seen it at Cold Storage.

The amount of butterfat in ice cream can varies from 10% – 16%. Super premium ice cream like Häagen-Dazs contains at least 16% butterfat. Even though butterfat makes ice cream smooth and creamy, an overdose of butterfat is really not something desirable unless you are looking for a greasy “lard ice cream”.

Ice cream has always been perceived as a sinful indulgence for the reason that it is supposedly fattening. Is this really true? The weight of one scoop of ice cream is approximately 60g – 100g. Assuming butterfat content to be 14%, one scoop of Ice cream contains about 8.4g – 14g of butterfat. Comparatively one fast-food chicken burger contains roughly 16g of fats.

Does this mean ice cream is healthy? Well, it does seems like ice cream is a tiny bit less sinful. In any case it is not my aim here to promote our ice cream as a healthy product. Healthy or not,  I will leave it to all to decide. This is mainly part of our effort to share with people more about ice cream.

Categories: About Ice cream
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