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Sweet Success: 7 Tips for Making Ice Cream at Home

Sweet Success: 7 Tips for Making Ice Cream at Home

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Every good cook needs a go-to dessert recipe. Homemade vanilla ice cream is a great choice during the summer.

Making ice cream from scratch isn’t difficult. Though it does require some attention to detail, the technique itself is rather simple: carefully cook the custard on the stove, allow it to cool, churn it in an ice cream maker, and then let it freeze fully. Once you have learned the basics, you can easily customize your ice cream with add-ins: caramel sauce and pretzel pieces, chocolate chips and crispy bacon… the possibilities are nearly endless.

We’ve put together some tips for each step in the ice-cream making process. Pair that with a great homemade vanilla ice cream recipe and you’ll be making dessert like a pro in no time!

Click here to see a Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

Tips for Making Homemade Ice Cream:

Step 1: Prep

Tip: Freeze the bowl. Whether you’re using a stand mixer with an ice cream attachment or a commercial ice cream maker, it’s usually best to freeze the bowl for a full 24 hours before use. Simply wrap the bowl in plastic and place it in your freezer one day in advance.

Step 2: Combine the Ingredients

Tip: Temper your ingredients. It’s important to introduce hot ingredients (like scalded milk) to the egg yolks very slowly, whisking constantly, to prevent curdling.

Step 3: Cook the Custard

Tip: Test the custard for doneness using a wooden spoon. Simply dip a wooden spoon into the custard, use your finger to trace a horizontal line along the back of the spoon, and watch to see how quickly the line fills itself back in. If the custard immediately fills the line back in, keep cooking it. If it takes a few seconds to fill the line, the custard is done.

Tip: Strain the custard. After your custard is fully cooked, it’s a good idea to strain it through a fine mesh sieve. This will ensure that there are no pieces of curdled egg in the ice cream.

Step 4: Chill the Custard

Tip: Enhance the flavor. If you’re using a vanilla bean (instead of vanilla extract) you can leave the pod in the custard while it cools; it will add extra flavor. Just be sure to remove the vanilla bean pod before pouring the chilled custard into the bowl of your ice cream machine.

Step 5: Use the Ice Cream Machine

Tip: Don’t overfill the mixing bowl. It’s necessary to leave some space in the bowl since air will be incorporated into the custard during the spinning process.

Tip: Make your own ice cream machine. If you don’t have an ice cream machine you can make one using two nesting coffee cans or sealable plastic bags.

Step 6: Freeze the Ice Cream

Tip: Take measures to prevent ice crystals from forming. Layer the ice cream and any desired add-ins into a container, press plastic wrap up against the surface of the ice cream and seal the container before storing it in your freezer.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal's Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.

How To Make The Creamiest Homemade Ice Cream

I can’t get behind no-churn ice creams. As much as I love the idea of not needing an ice cream machine to make grade-A ice creams at home, the no-churn business never lives up to its hyped expectations. That said, if you are a serious ice cream connoisseur, making the frozen dairy treat from scratch is a worthy technique to learn and master. Once you understand the basics of making the cool, creamy custard (and get yourself an ice cream maker), you can dream up an unlimited possibility of fun custom flavors.

I tapped Julia Levy, one of our test kitchen’s recipe developers and resident ice cream aficionado, to gather insight and her best pro-tips for making ice cream at home. First, let’s cover a few technicalities about what is considered ice cream. American-style, or Philadelphia-style, ice cream does not contain eggs the base for this dessert is made simply milk, cream, and sugar. While French-style ice cream contains egg more specifically, egg yolks. American-style is considered a bit easier to prepare, as it doesn’t require cooking a stovetop however, the rich, custardy French-style is arguably more satisfying.

Both Levy and I agreed on French being our personal preference thus, the following pointers address the incorporation of egg yolks. Read on to better understand the anatomy of your favorite frozen treat.

Recipe Summary

  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ice cubes, or as needed
  • 3 tablespoons ice cream rock salt

Combine milk, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla extract in a pint-size resealable plastic bag seal tightly.

Put a scoop of ice, 3 tablespoons ice cream rock salt, and the bag containing the milk-cream mixture into a gallon-size resealable plastic bag seal tightly.

Rock the bag back and forth (do not shake) until contents thicken into ice cream, about 10 minutes. Wipe salt from the top of the pint-size bag before opening to prevent salt from getting into the ice cream.

5 Tips for Homemade Ice Cream Success

Making your own ice cream is super easy! Many people think it will be difficult to do, but it’s not. Here are a few tips for success:

1. Get a good base. Start with a good base ice cream recipe and then customize from here. I like my Dairy-Free Vanilla Ice Cream as a base and then I can create new flavors from there.

2. Use super fine granulated sweeteners. Using a granulated sugar keeps the water content of the ice cream down, therefore creating less water crystals in the ice cream (which makes it not as smooth and creamy). Whiz your sugar up in your food processor or blender until it’s SUPER fine before adding it to your base. This helps it blend into the ice cream better and won’t leave the mixture gritty.

3. Keep it scoopable. To keep the ice cream from setting up too firm, add a tablespoon or two (per quart) of some sort of alcohol to the mixture. If you’re wanting to avoid alcohol, you could try adding some gelatin to the ice cream base. I prefer the blue top (Collagen Peptides) from my affiliate partner Vital Proteins or Perfect Supplements (see note below).

4. Don’t fear the fat. When making homemade ice cream, use FULL FAT cream or coconut milk. Avoid half-and-half and regular milk (even whole milk) for a truly rich and creamy treat. This keeps the water content of the ice cream down and reduces ice crystals.

5. Have FUN! Ice cream should be fun! Make the event a family affair. Have the kids choose their favorite toppings and help prepare the ice cream. This gets everyone involved and helps strengthen the family unit.

45+ Delicious Homemade Ice Cream Recipes

Even the thought of ice cream is enough to conjure dreams of sunny weekend days lounging around in the yard, running through the sprinkler, and taking a break from the heat with a delicious ice-cold treat. While the store-bought stuff is nice, it's not hard to make a batch of really rich, bend-your-spoon thick ice cream without breaking the bank.

If you've never tried your hand at making this sweet dessert before, you might be surprised by just how easy it is. Though it takes some planning, most of your time will be spent letting it cool or freeze. You can often whip together a good ice cream base in less than half an hour. Then all you need to do is chill it, give it some time in a best ice cream maker, and let it freeze. What you get for all that "work" is an incredibly delicious dessert that tastes great and has exactly the flavors and ingredients you want! Wish your favorite chocolate chip ice cream had more chocolate chips? It can! Wish your favorite banana ice cream didn't have walnuts? That's all up to you now.

Homemade ice cream is also great way to treat guests. Nothing says spectacular like pulling out ice cream made from fresh berries or mint from the garden. And ice cream goes well with plenty of other summer desserts and no-bake dessert recipes. It's also needed when making delicious homemade ice cream sandwiches, too. Check 48 of our favorite ice cream recipes!

Sweet Success: 7 Tips for Making Ice Cream at Home - Recipes

Tips on Making Ice Cream at Home

A heat resistant plastic spatula. The ice cream mixture will go between bowls, pot, and container many times during the process, so you will lose a bit of mixture between each transfer. To prevent too much from being wasted, use the spatula every time.

In addition, stirring with the spatula is the best way to prevent the mix from sticking to the bottom of the pot when cooking.

Uncooked mango, pineapple, kiwi, papaya, ginger, and figs contain an enzyme called bromelain, which breaks down gelatin (and its alternatives like agar), preventing it from thickening the ice cream mix. If using any of these ingredients, either leave out the gelatin, or cook the fruit first to deactivate the enzyme.

5. Why heat milk and cream first before mixing in eggs and sugar?
Mixing all the ice cream ingredients together first before cooking may save you some time. But it is important to scald the milk and cream first in order to shorten the cooking time when eggs are added in. If heating cold milk and cream with eggs, there is a higher chance the eggs will curdle and your ice cream will be ruined.

Scalding the milk and cream also helps infuse the flavors with the liquid.

6. Why is homemade ice cream harder than store bought ice cream?

Due to the amount of air whipped into ice cream, and a few other factors, store bought ice cream will generally remain soft when frozen, while homemade ice cream will freeze too hard to scoop. Easy solution is to take the homemade ice cream out of the freezer 5-10 minutes before serving, so it becomes soft enough to scoop.

Think of store bought ice cream like a bag of chips. When you open the bag, half of it is air. A quart of ice cream isn't really a quart unless you make it at home.

Guide: Making Ice Cream

The percent of milk fat, or cream, used in an ice cream influences the flavor and texture — too little cream (less than 10 percent) and it's not even considered ice cream while too much will make the ice cream overly rich and heavy. Good balance is key, as you want a creamy texture but you don't want to overwhelm the other flavors.

Ice Cream: There are two main styles of ice cream: French custard ice cream, which includes egg yolks cooked with the cream mixture, and the eggless Philadelphia-style ice cream.

Sorbet vs. Sherbet: Both are usually made with fruit as the main flavoring, but sorbet is made with sugar, water and fruit while sherbet is made with milk and cream (although with a lower percentage of fat than regular ice cream).

Gelato: This intensely flavored Italian treat can be made with or without cream but, with the focus on natural flavors, it usually has less fat and sugar than regular ice cream.

The smoothness of ice cream depends on the size of the ice crystals — this is why an ice cream machine is necessary. Its basic function is to turn the cream mixture and break up the ice crystals as the cream is freezing.

There are three styles of ice cream machines, each with a different freezing method: 1) rock salt and ice, 2) pre-frozen inserts and 3) built-in freezers.

Ice and Rock Salt Machines: The cream mixture is put into the inner container and ice and rock salt are layered around the outside (salt lowers the freezing temperature of the ice, making it colder). Then the mixture is churned by a motor or by hand. These traditional machines can make large batches of smooth-textured ice cream, but they do require some effort.

Pre-Frozen Insert Machines: The most economical and accessible machines, the main drawback is that you need to plan ahead — the insert needs to be pre-frozen for 12 to 24 hours.

Built-In Freezer Machines: Easy to use, you just pour the cream mixture into the machine, press a button and wait for your freshly churned ice cream. But, they're the most expensive type of ice cream machine and can also be quite large.

Homemade Ice Cream Recipes

Yay! Summer! Pretty sure there’s no better excuse for some indulgent, homemade ice cream recipes than hot Summer weather. Although… you really don’t need an excuse to eat ice cream, do you? Or make it!

I’m so excited about the warm weather and the visions of cold, creamy treats dancing in my head, that I’ve found 80 of the best Homemade Ice Cream Recipes and gathered them up for you all in one place! Any homemade ice cream treat your heart desires!

Which homemade ice cream recipe are you dying to try?

80 Homemade Ice Cream Recipes

Click on the corresponding link to see the full recipe.

4. 3 Berry Cheesecake Ice Cream from The Baking Chocolatess

12. Banana Pudding Ice Cream from Spicy Southern Kitchen

14. Coffee Crunch Ice Cream from Baked by an Introvert

16. Lemon Blueberry Pie Ice Cream from Lady Behind the Curtain

18. Cake Batter Ice Cream from Around My Family Table

21. Caramel Banana Ice Cream from Living Sweet Moments

28. Skinny Chunky Monkey Ice Cream from Divas Run for Bling

29. 3 Ingredient Creamy Coconut Ice Cream from The Kitchen is my Playground

32. Maple Peanut Butter Ice Cream from Vegan in the Freezer

38. Banana Split Ice Cream from Julie’s Eats and Treats

40. No Churn Almond Joy Ice Cream from Three Kids and a Fish

41. Easy Homemade 3 Ingredient Ice Cream from The Kitchen is My Playground

43. Kauai Pie Ice Cream from The Organic Dietitian

44. Kahlua Cherry Ice Cream from The Flavor Bender

46. Homemade Ice Cream in a Can from Home Cooking Memories

50. Kettle Corn Ice Cream from The Flavor Bender

56. Pistachio Ice Cream from Cooking with Curls

59. Peaches and Cream Ice Cream from Baked by an Introvert

65. Red Velvet Ice Cream from Thrifty DIY Diva

66. Minion Ice Cream from Homemaking Hacks

67. Nutella Oreo Gelato from An Italian in my Kitchen

68. No Churn Nutella Ice Cream from Living Sweet Moments

74. Tiramisu Ice Cream from Cooking with Curls

76. S’mores Ice Cream from Julie’s Eats and Treats

80. No Churn Cherry Cheesecake Ice Cream from Saving Dollars and Sense

Did you like these Homemade Ice Cream Recipes ideas? Find more on my Summer Days and Desserts boards on Pinterest!

If you liked these Homemade Ice Cream Recipes ideas, you might also like

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How to use an ice cream maker – top tips

1. Plan ahead

No matter which type of machine you’re using, you’ll need to plan. A pre-freeze bowl needs to be in the freezer preferably overnight to make sure it’s frozen solid (you can check it is by shaking, there should be no liquid sloshing around). If you have the room, store the bowl in the freezer all the time, that way it’ll always be ready to go.

2. Ensure your ingredients are cold

Even a built-in freezer model which is off and running at the flick of a switch, needs the custards, base creams and anything else you are going to add to be as cold as possible.

Adding warm, or even room temperature ingredients to an ice cream machine will cool down its core temperature, meaning the churn takes longer – and a longer churn means heavier ice cream. At worst, the pre-freeze bowl will warm up too much and rather than ice cream you will have sloppy cream.

Get those custards, creams and fruits into the fridge and chill them right down, a few hours will be good, overnight is the best. Cooked custard bases and cream can get a helping hand by pouring them into a bowl and set it in a bigger bowl one-third full of iced water or ice cubes.

Finally, keep those ingredients in the refrigerator right up until the machine is whirring away and you are ready to pour the cream into the machine.

3. Go full-fat

Ice cream is a treat and though it may be possible to make a good low-fat one, it’s much harder. The best ice cream is full of flavour thanks to the richness of the ingredients and needs plenty of fat for it to churn well, this is not the time to skimp.

Use full-fat milk, double cream, fresh free-range eggs, real vanilla, fruits, nuts and chocolate, whatever the recipe calls for. When you eat ice cream, you want to enjoy the best.

4. Beware some ingredients

Be sparing with some ingredients you add to your ice cream. Alcohol makes a rich background flavour – who doesn’t love a little rum and raisin? – but too much and the ice cream won’t churn.

Sugar has the same effect, so make sure your sweetness is added when cooking the base cream and has fully dissolved. Even fruit, if not cold or finely chopped, will make the ice cream softer than desired.

5. Let it sit before serving

Unless you’re eating your homemade ice cream immediately, you’ll be storing it in the freezer. Commercial ice cream coming straight from the freezer is mostly soft and scoops easily. Homemade ice cream though, will be rock hard as it doesn’t have the stabilisers or additives to keep it soft. Don’t compare your ice cream to shop-bought varieties.

Instead, think ahead and take the ice cream from the freezer around 10-15 minutes before you want to eat it. Leave it on the kitchen worktop (not near a heat source, you don’t want it to melt) and it will be perfect. Also, when packing your ice cream into tubs for the freezer, less is better. Too deep makes it hard to soften for serving – at best only fill the tub half way.

6. Always start the motor before pouring

Never add your ice cream base to the freezer bowl without the motor running. If you do, the cream will freeze onto the sides of the bowl and could potentially damage the machine.

7. Care for your machine

You have made fabulous ice cream now your machine needs some TLC. Once your ice cream is made, the paddles, lids and accessories can be washed immediately either in the dishwasher or by hand according to the manufacturer’s advice.

The bowls, however, must always be put to one side and left to defrost thoroughly. Plunging a still frozen or extremely cold bowl into hot water can damage it beyond repair, at worst it can crack which, with pre-freeze bowls, can cause the refrigerant to leak.

8. Use a good recipe

Once you start making delicious homemade ice cream, your only limitation is your imagination. A good source of tried, tested, and trusted recipes is a great way to expand your repertoire.

Tips for Making Homemade Ice Cream

Summer is in full swing and the 4th of July is coming up this weekend. This is a perfect time to make homemade ice cream. I’ve already shared several recipes with you (I’ll link them at the end of this post), but I wanted to share a few tips too.

There are two kinds of ice cream freezers – traditional, which can be hand crank or electric and counter-top models. There are advantages and disadvantages to both styles.

Traditional Freezers

These freezers make 4 quarts of ice cream. This is a definite advantage if you’re feeding a crowd. You’ll need ice and ice cream salt. Use plenty of both, layering them around the edge of the container that holds the ice cream.

The disadvantage to this type freezer is that it is nearly impossible to mix in ingredients toward the end of the freezing process without risking getting salty ice water in the ice cream. Mix ins that work well are ingredients like nuts, chocolate, candy bars and firm fruits that hold up well. I recently tried making cookies and cream ice cream in a traditional freezer. I ended up with frozen, gray ice cream flecked with black. The cookies just didn’t hold up well in this type of freezer.

When the motor stops running and the freezing process is complete, add extra salt and ice to the bucket. Place a layer of newspaper over the top of the mixer, then wrap an old blanket or towels around and on top of the bucket. Letting the ice cream sit like this for 30-60 minutes will freeze it further and keep it from melting so fast when you serve it.

Counter Top Styles

This type of freezer only makes about 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream. It’s enough for my family of six to each have a serving, but generally we don’t have any left over. There’s no need for ice or salt in these mixers, because the bowl is made to put in the freezer and it functions in place of the ice/salt combo used by the traditional models.

If you store the bowl in your freezer, it will always be ready when the mood for ice cream hits. Be sure to wipe the bowl out with a clean, dry towel before you add the ingredients. Sometimes ice crystals form in the bowl and they can cause the ice cream to be icy.

It is easy to add mix in ingredients near the end of the freezing time in a counter-top style freezer. This means you can use soft mix ins, such as cookies or bananas.

Whichever style of mixer you choose, have fun experimenting with flavors and mix in combinations. Here are some of recipes I’ve made:

Do you have favorite ice cream flavors you like to make or tips you can share?

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