The rising prices of good-quality ice cream are turning this former dessert staple into an occasional indulgence. Skip the local ice cream shoppe or grocery store freezer case and start making ice cream that satisfies your dessert cravings in your own kitchen, even if you don’t have an ice cream maker!
Making your favorite ice cream flavors at home is easy and fun for the whole family! When you make your own ice cream, you can save money and control the quality of ingredients that you use. Plus, ice cream is a great dessert for any age group or dietary restriction. It can be made low-fat, sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free.
The Ice Cream Base:
If you have access to it, raw milk or cream will give your ice cream superior flavor and texture. Once your ice cream custard has cooled, taste it before you add it to the ice cream maker or freeze it. This gives you a chance to adjust the flavors. If the flavor is still not quite what you wanted after your ice cream has fully frozen, set it in the refrigerator to melt. Once it is fully liquefied, adjust the flavor to your taste and then refreeze it.
Homemade ice cream is the perfect vehicle for using up odds and ends from sweet treats.
Try adding these mix-ins to your favorite ice cream base: fully-ripened fresh berries or stone fruit; dried fruit; chopped salted or unsalted nuts; candy bar pieces; cut up caramels or boxed chocolates; bite-sized chunks of fudge; small pieces of cookies, cakes, pies, or doughnuts; purchased brownie or cookie dough; sundae topping sauces; peanut butter; marshmallow fluff; jam; espresso; crushed coffee beans; baking chips; crushed peppermints or candy canes; or sprinkles.
While your ice cream is churning in the ice cream machine, keep your add-ins in the freezer so that they do not melt or raise the temperature of your ice cream base when you stir them in. All add-ins should always be in bite-sized pieces. Follow the instructions for when to add them or stir them in by hand once the ice cream has completed the mixing cycle. If you mix in add-in ingredients too early, they will sink to the bottom of your ice cream sleeve.
Roast fresh fruit chunks in the oven or stew them in a pot on the stove and then allow them to cool completely before adding them to the ice cream base. This step will save you from having solid, difficult to eat chunks of fruit in your ice cream.
To keep nuts crunchy and full of flavor, toast them for three minutes in a dry skillet on medium heat. Allow them to cool completely before adding them to your ice cream base.
With an Ice Cream Maker:
Read the instructions for your ice cream maker, paying special attention to the frequently asked questions and guidelines for when to add-in extras, like candy or cookie pieces.
Chill the dashers or beaters for your ice cream machine and the sleeve or bowl in the freezer. Buy an extra freezing sleeve for your electric ice cream maker and store it in the freezer so it is always ready and waiting for you when it is time to make ice cream.
Only pour custard into the ice cream maker after it has been thoroughly chilled and do not fill your ice cream sleeve more than ¾ full of custard base. As air is incorporated into the ice cream base it will gain volume. You do not want the sleeve to overflow.
If you are using an ice cream maker that requires cubed ice or rock salt, be sure that you have enough of these items on hand before you get started. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions for when to add more ice and salt, if necessary. In general, you should have a three to one ratio of ice to salt. As the machine runs, you should not need to add more ice or salt or take away any water.
If you make homemade ice cream often, think about buying a machine that has an on-board freezing unit. They can be expensive; but, it is worth it. You simply add the ice cream base and after 20 minutes of churning, the ice cream is ready to enjoy.
Without an Ice Cream Maker:
Do you still want the freshly churned taste but don’t have an ice cream machine? Fill a clean and dry 10 ounce metal coffee can ¾ full of chilled ice cream base and put on its plastic lid. Place this filled can inside of a clean and dry 36 ounce metal coffee can. Fill in the empty space with crushed ice. Fill the space at the top with a layer of rock salt and then put on the plastic lid. Roll or kick the can around for 45 minutes or until the ice cream has frozen.
If you are making ice cream for a specific event or occasion, be sure to allow enough time for your ice cream to thoroughly freeze. Do not freeze your ice cream in the ice cream maker sleeve. Move it to a different container. If you are using your ice cream as the base for milkshakes, freeze it in ice cube trays for easier blending.
Try to let your ice cream set in the freezer for at least 4-6 hours before eating it so the flavors can ripen and the texture can become firm. For the best flavor, allow your fully frozen ice cream to soften on the counter for 15 minutes before scooping.
Keeping Your Ice Cream Fresh in the Freezer:
Use large deli salad containers to store your ice cream in the freezer. Make sure that your ice cream storage containers have a tight-fitting lid so that your ice cream does not absorb any flavors or odors from the freezer. Remember to label and date your ice cream for maximum freshness. In the proper container, homemade ice cream can be stored for a fairly long time in the freezer, as long as it does not develop freezer-burn or visible ice crystals.
No Ice Cream Maker Required