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Aavin and the ice cream factory

Strawberry ice candies at the factory Photo: V. Ganesan  

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From plain milk to creamy delight… The writer tracks the fascinating journey of how ice cream is made at Aavin’s Dairy.

It’s a blistering hot summer day, but G. Rajendran comes to work dressed in a blue sweater and woollen gloves. He rubs his hands to keep warm, as sweat buds threaten to form on our brow. Rajendran is probably the only man in Chennai who wears a sweater to office all through the year. But not without reason. He works inside Aavin’s ice cream freezer, where the temperature is maintained at -30 degrees. “It’s not bad during summer,” shrugs the 55-year-old. “But during the winter and on rainy days, it’s extremely difficult to work inside.”

We poke our heads inside the ‘Ice cream hardening chamber’, only to be shooed away by a burst of ice-cold air — but we manage to catch a glimpse of the frozen floors on which cartons of just-made ice cream cups and sticks wait to be transported to the neighbouring ‘cold room’, from where they will travel to various parts of Tamil Nadu.

At the ice cream factory of Aavin’s Products Dairy at Ambattur, milk procured from across the State travels through a series of tanks and pipes to be embellished with fruit pulp, nuts and chocolate syrup, to be transformed into a delicious end-product. Machines do all the work, except at the end of the chain, where human beings join in to welcome the ice cream cups and cones into the outside world.



Ice cream cups being packed. Photo: V. Ganesan


The first step is separating cream from the milk. For the purpose, “milk from tankers is transferred into storage containers and is then pasteurised,” explains S.R. Sankar, Dy. General Manager (QC). From then on, the off-white liquid moves from one machine to another, with straightforward names such as ‘Cream separator’, ‘Cream balance tank’ and ‘Cream pasteuriser’ to become as viscous as honey.

We walk along a corridor where overhead pipelines carry the cream into the ice cream mix preparation unit. “This is where we prepare the base,” says Sankar. The cream is treated to a generous helping of milk powder, sugar, stabiliser, emulsifier and milk. Help is taken from a machine called the ‘ice cream agitator’ to make the cream fluffy and uniform. But the off-white mass is not ice cream, not yet.

The Catta 27, a gleaming imported freezer, incorporates a unit of air for every unit of cream. The resulting product, in all its gooey glory, is called ice cream. This room — the ‘Ice cream production and packaging hall’ — which smells of sugar, strawberries, and everything nice, is where all the magic happens.



School children on a visit to the factory Photo: V. Ganesan


Men and women in hair nets bustle about, carrying cartons of just-packed ice cream, and the odd employee is seen blissfully licking an ice candy fresh off the machine. It’s here that something as ordinary as water and syrup transform into shocking-pink ice candies; where chocolate syrup is married to vanilla inside crispy cones.

S. Pon Nandhini, Dy. Manager, snatches a cup of mango ice cream from a conveyor for us to try. Soft and mild, it tastes like heaven. More ice cream awaits us — the candy-making machine, which freezes a mixture of water, strawberry pulp and sugar syrup into ice-pops, boasts little pink bars that seem to nod at us as they travel along the conveyor. The machine makes 6,000 bars an hour and it’s hard not to grab a handful as they make their way into the plastic wrappers.

But the men and women, who package the ice candies and ice creams in cups, perform their jobs with a certain restraint. Ask any of them, and they will tell you that they hardly eat ice cream. “I eat one once in a while,” says Lakshmi, as she carries a batch into the ice cream hardening chamber, where it all comes to an end. Milk, which started its journey at a temperature of 4 degrees, concludes it at -4 degrees.



An ice cream a day

  • Aavin’s facility at Ambattur makes 2,000 kg of ice cream a day.
  • Their newly-launched flavours of ice candy include strawberry, cola, mango, pineapple, grape and choco-feast.
  • Around 5,000 ice cream cups are made within a time span of three to four hours.
  • For 1000 kg of ice cream mix, 600 litres of milk are used.
  • Aavin claims to use natural fruit pulp for all their ice creams.
  • The ice cream factory is open for schools to visit. For details, email hrdamb2014@gmail.com, aavinsvasu@gmail.com.


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Printable version | Jan 21, 2018 7:46:01 PM | http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/a-visit-to-aavins-ice-cream-factory/article8393238.ece