Homemade ice cream is delicious and easy to make with or without an ice cream maker. Ice cream makers come in a variety of styles, from inexpensive hand-cranked tubs to more expensive models with compressors. Choose the one that best fits your budget and your need for ice cream.
Choosing an Ice Cream Maker
You'll find a variety of ice cream makers to choose from, and most do the job quite well. The less expensive large quantity ice cream makers do a fine job but require several pounds of ice and rock salt for each batch.
They're also bulky, so storage space might be a consideration. The smaller countertop models like the Cuisinart or La Glaciere do a good job, and you won't have the mess or expense of rock salt and ice. With these makers, you just freeze the 1- to 1 1/2-quart bowl, pour the ice cream mixture in, and turn it on. The bowl is a special canister with a liquid refrigerant sealed between the walls.
You don't want to buy an ice cream maker? Here are a few good ways to make ice cream with ice, rock salt, and no mechanical help.
- Still freeze: Prepare an ice cream mixture, place the mixing bowl in the freezer. Take it out a few times during the freezing process and mix with a hand mixer or pulse with a food processor.
- The rolling can method: Put your ice cream mixture in a 1-pound coffee can, seal well with top and tape, and place it in the center of a 3-pound coffee can. Layer ice and rock salt in the space between the cans. Seal the large can, place it on its side on the ground or floor, then roll back and forth with your feet for about 10 to 15 minutes. Take the small can out, wipe the rock salt and water off, then stir. Reseal the can and repeat the rock salt, ice, and rolling.
- The plastic bag method: Similar to the rolling can method using rock salt and ice, but use a 1-pint well-sealed plastic freezer bag in a 1-gallon sealed plastic bag. Shake until frozen.
Some of the best and richest ice creams are made with eggs. If your recipe calls for uncooked eggs, consider using the equivalent amount of egg substitute or cook the eggs and milk (to at least 170° F) as in some of the recipes below.
Ice Cream Making and Buying Tips
- When shopping, get the ice cream last and put it away as soon as you get home.
- To keep opened cartons of ice cream from forming ice crystals, place a piece of plastic wrap right on the surface of the ice cream, making it as airtight as possible. Close the carton well and return to the freezer.
- To soften very hard ice cream, microwave on 30% power for 20 to 30 seconds. The time varies with fat content, so check after 20 seconds.
- When making homemade ice cream in a machine using rock salt and ice, use a ratio of about 1 cup of salt to 6 cups of ice.
- Serve ice cream from a carton in slices instead of scoops. An electric knife works well.
- Freeze newly-made ice cream for about 4 hours before serving. This is also known as "ripening."
- Make sure to carefully wipe the water and salt off the ice cream container lid before opening.
- Customize your purchased ice cream. Soften the ice cream just enough to enable you to stir in chopped nuts, candy pieces, miniature marshmallows, or brownie or cookie pieces. Return to the freezer until firm.
Red, White, and Blue Ice Cream (Raspberry and Blueberry Swirl)