There’s something deeply nostalgic about homemade ice cream—memories of taking turns at the crank, the sound of the ice and salt working their charm on a canister of cream, and the satisfaction of finally holding that bowl of frozen goodness in your hand, oblivious to the hot summer sun beating down on you.
But homemade ice cream presents a few challenges, like unwanted ice crystals or mixtures that refuse to freeze properly—or at all. Ice cream making can be a tricky science (just ask Jeni or David) but armed with the right tools, techniques, and pointers, anyone can do it and be rewarded with a creamy concoction that’ll make both Ben and Jerry proud.
So let’s talk about this here ice cream making! Tell us:
Do you have any tips and tricks for making ice cream?
What I love most about ice cream is the ability to make all kinds of crazy flavors. Like Thai tea ice cream. Vietnamese coffee ice cream. (Notice a trend?) What continues to serve me well in all my experimentation is remembering how each component affects the final product:
- Sugar improves the texture and flavor of ice cream. It also lowers the freezing temperature of the base, which means the ice cream is less likely to freeze into something as hard as a rock. But add too much, and the ice cream may not freeze at all.
- When you increase the water content (like, say, replacing cream with skim milk), you also increase the chances that your ice cream will developlarge ice crystals and freeze hard like the aforementioned rock.
- Fat also improves texture (makes it smoother) and flavor (makes it richer). It also makes the ice cream base more stable. Yay for fat!
- Always, always serve yourself more than 2 scoops. Of course.
There’s a whole science to ice cream making and the tips above are just a few basic ones I’ve found most helpful as a simple guideline. I’ve found that keeping them in mind can come in handy when I’m adapting a recipe.
Nanci says that when storing ice cream (even when store-bought), she puts a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the ice cream and presses it right down onto the surface of the ice cream before adding the lid. This helps to prevent ice crystals from forming on the top. Her husband thinks that store-bought ice, as opposed to that from your own freezer, works better to use in your ice cream churn. She says, “He feels it’s more solid and colder (if that’s possible).” Finally, she suggests using real cream for a truly creamy result. (I second that.)
How about you? Have any tips to share? Or maybe favorite flavors? Or maybe you have a nagging ice cream making problem you just can’t figure out. Whatever it is, drop us a note below and let’s talk homemade ice cream!