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Homemade Ice Cream

Making ice cream at home is actually pretty easy to do, and you don’t need any fancy equipment if you’re just making small batches for fun. This is a great Saturday afternoon activity. You’ll be surprised at how good it tastes. Just keep in mind this is not low-fat or low-calorie. In fact, you’d be better off calling this the full-fat, high-cal,  high-taste version. This recipe is enough for one person to make one dish, but you can always scale it up a bit so you can share with friends as well.

Don’t worry too much if you don’t have whole milk or heavy cream. Nearly any milk will work, and you can substitute half-and-half for the cream. Ideally you want ingredients with a high fat content because these will create a creamy texture when cooled. Remember that we’re just experimenting here, so try what you have on hand!

Ingredients you need to make your own Ice Cream

  • 1 part milk (Whole or 2% work best)
  • 2 parts heavy cream (optional)
  • a dash of vanilla
  • 1 part sugar
  • 4 cups crushed ice
  • 4 tbsp. salt
  • 2 quart-size plastic bags
  • 1 gallon-size plastic freezer bag
  • hand towel or gloves to keep fingers from freezing as well

Basic Directions

Begin by mixing the milk, vanilla and sugar together in one of the quart-size bags. If you want, you can mix this in a bowl first so that you get all the sugar dissolved. Seal the bag tightly; you want to try to get as much of the air out of the bag as you can. Too much air left inside might force the bag open during the mixing stage.

Place this bag inside the other quart size bag, again leaving as little air inside as possible and sealing well. By double-bagging, the risk of salt and ice leaking into the ice cream is minimized.

Put the two bags inside the gallon-size bag,  fill the gallon-size bag with ice and then sprinkle  a generous amount of salt on top. Again, squeeze out as much air as possible and then seal the bag. Wrap the bag in the towel or put your gloves on, and shake and massage the bag, making sure the ice surrounds the creamy mixture. Five to eight minutes should be enough time to allow the mixture to freeze into ice cream.

When you are all done, carefully open the bags and extract your ice cream. Enjoy!

If you’d like to experiment a bit more, you can try substituting a mixture of heavy cream and your choice of milk. Mix up a few different batches, and compare the texture of ice cream. Which do you think will have a smoother texture?

We suggest using freezer bags because they are thicker and less likely to develop small holes, allowing the bags to leak. You can get away with using regular plastic bags for the smaller quart sizes, because you are double-bagging. If you plan to do this indoors, we strongly recommend using gallon-size freezer bags.

Advanced flavors

If you are really adventurous you can try mixing in some special flavor ingredients after the plain vanilla ice cream is made. It’s generally best to add these items after all the squishing in the bag is done, so you don’t crush the flavor additions. So give some of these combinations try, and let us know what flavor combinations you come up with by posting on our Facebook page!

  • Chunks of chocolate bars or chocolate chips
  • Oreo cookie chunks
  • Broken pieces of peppermint candies
  • Mango and Kiwi (use fresh fruit with out the skin)
  • Pineapple and pomegranate seeds
  • Chocolate chips and peppermint chunks

What does the salt do?

Salt forces the ice surrounding the bag of ingredients to melt. This “brine” solution or liquid that forms in the gallon-size bag absorbs the heat from the ice cream mix and gradually lowers the temperature of the mix until it begins to freeze.

If there were no salt added to the ice, it would melt at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and eventually the ice water and mix would come to equilibrium at 32 degrees. The ice cream mix, however, does not begin to freeze until its temperature falls below 27 degrees. Therefore, in order to freeze the mix, we need to add salt to the ice to lower the freezing temperature.

With 4 tbsp. of salt mixed with our ice, the brine temperature should remain constant at around 8 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit. This will give the rapid cooling and freezing that is essential to making smooth, creamy ice cream.