Happy National Ice Cream Month!

As far as American holidays go, Independence Day on July 4 is a pretty big deal. But July also hosts another national day that not every American knows about — and one that people all over the world gladly participate in: National Ice Cream Day.

Celebrated on the third Sunday of July, the day is for the consumption of all treats frozen and milky (the jury’s still out on whether popsicles are allowed to join the festivities). In fact, ever since 1984, the entire month of July has been celebrated as National Ice Cream Month.

If you plan to indulge in some ice cream this weekend, perhaps you might consider making your own. Ice cream is fairly easy to make, but it’s important to do so safely. Using raw eggs comes with the risk of Salmonella contamination, so the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) offers some tips for avoiding illness.

Eggs add flavor, smoothness and prevent ice crystallization in ice cream. The FDA recommends using a cooked egg base, otherwise known as a custard base, when making ice cream.

You can make a custard base by cooking your mixture of eggs, milk and sugar to 160°F, stirring consistently. A food thermometer will help ensure that you’ve heated the mixture thoroughly. When it’s hot enough, the mixture should be able to coat a metal spoon. Chill the mixture before continuing with your recipe.

If you don’t want to make a custard base, the FDA also suggests using pasteurized eggs, egg substitutes or simply finding a recipe without eggs.

People with allergies or lactose intolerance can also seek out milk and egg-free ice cream brands. Many companies use alternative ingredients, like bananas and coconut milk, to imitate the creamy, frozen goodness of ice cream.

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