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Homemade Ice Cream Tips and Tricks

Posted by in Kitchen Talk

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Kitchen Talk (Homemade Ice Cream Tips and Tricks)

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Fat also improves texture (makes it smoother) and flavor (makes it richer). It also makes the ice cream base more stable. Yay for fat!
  4. 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!



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einnoch on 7.10.2014

I am curious about the effect of eggs/egg yolks in ice cream. Many recipes have them added and many recipes don’t. Some seem to have extraordinary amounts of egg yolks. So my real question is why do we add eggs to our ice cream?

DebbieK on 7.10.2014

My favorite flavor is caramel using my grandmother’s recipe. She would ‘burn’ the sugar in a cast iron skillet to make the caramel additive for the ice cream and then grandpa would hand churn the ice cream, giving us grand kids a chance at churning, making us feel as if we contributed, but knowing that we truly had him to thank for the muscle power behind the delicious ice cream.

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Patricia @ ButterYum on 7.10.2014

I know of two recipes that call for sweetened condensed milk as the main dairy. Has anyone tried something similar?

ellie k on 7.10.2014

I sometimes replace part of the half and half with flavored coffee creamer, it makes a creamy ice cream and comes in many flavors that we like.

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C. L. ( Cheryl ) "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser on 7.10.2014

My family and gang of friends I normally feed (large crowds) they prefer Gelato, sorbet, sherbet, or Florida Shaved Flavored Ice. Why you may ask? It is sooooo hot here 10-11 months a year in sub-tropical weather, I could not possibly keep enough ice cream around. We also use frozen Yogurt almost daily, whether in smoothies, or milkshakes. Albeit to say, I would never have time in any given day to make homemade ice cream! Our alternatives have been working out for many years. Sometimes I just let things be!!! Cheryl.

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Patricia @ ButterYum on 7.9.2014

Lol – I love tip #4. I discovered the book Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer last summer and immediately fell in love with her somewhat non-traditional method. Most of her ice cream bases are made with a touch of cream cheese and cornstarch which make the finished product smooth as silk and they have an almost chewy quality. It’s no wonder people wait in line for hours at her shops.

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Erika (TK) on 7.9.2014

Niss, I haven’t used goat or sheep milk but I agree with Allyn—coconut milk is a great substitute. I’ve also had ice cream (and yogurt) made with water buffalo milk and it was incredible.

Gidget on 7.9.2014

I don’t have any secrets…. but I want to learn to make gelato… love that stuff!

niss on 7.9.2014

Just wondering if anyone has used goat’s or sheep’s milk as a substitute. My son has a dairy sensitivity…we have tried coconut milk

Allyn on 7.9.2014

Full fat coconut milk makes the best dairy sub for ice cream. Still nice and rich and creamy!

Pam S on 7.9.2014

I recently was researching gelato-making and a tip I learned to prevent crystals forming was to add about a tbsp of alcohol to the custard before churning. I made a batch and added brandy-soaked cherries to the custard and so far, no crystals. Tasted pretty good, too!