A scoop of ice cream is a welcome treat any time of the day, but a few things surpass a homemade scoop of ice cream on a hot summer afternoon. With a bit of experimenting, you can tailor it to perfect the intensity of such ingredients such as chocolate and vanilla or come up with crazy flavors. Besides, you can whip up a batch of homemade ice cream using an ice cream maker and other tools you already have in your home.
In this post, we discuss all there is to know about homemade ice cream and ice cream science.
Table of Contents
- What Makes Homemade Ice Cream Different From Store-Bought
- Recipes and Ingredients
- Customizing Your Ice Cream
- Putting the “Ice” in Ice Cream
- Soft Serve vs
- How to Make Waffle Cones
- Storing Your Ice Cream After Making It
What Makes Homemade Ice Cream Different from Store-Bought
The primary advantage of making homemade rather than store-bought ice cream is that you will not have to purchase over-priced desserts. Your homemade ice cream is devoid of fake thickeners, artificial thickeners, and stabilizers, which supposedly keep it “fresh”. Once you begin making your own ice cream, you will realize that even the store-bought high-quality type lacks the “just-made” quality.
The other benefits of homemade over store-bought ice cream include:
You Can Control Its Sugar Levels
In spite of the high animal fat content, dairy products are quite healthy. Ice cream is perceived as unhealthy due to high sugar content. By making your ice cream, you can control the amount of sugar in it, and if you have a dairy sensitivity like dairy allergies or lactose intolerance, you can control your ice cream in a way that suits your body. You can also substitute sugar with healthier ingredients such as honey. This also lowers carbohydrates and calories in the ice cream.
It Is Rich in Proteins, Vitamins, and Calcium
The two major ingredients in homemade ice cream are milk and cream. Milk provides up to 75% calcium, which promotes healthy bones. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 100g of ice cream has 128mg of calcium. It also high protein levels, which you can increase by adding an egg custard base. It also boosts crucial vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, D, and B12, as well as potassium.
You Use Fresh Ingredients
Whether you make ice cream in a blender or use a home ice cream machine, you can add healthy ingredients such as nuts and fresh fruits when you make your ice cream at home. When it comes to store-bought ice cream, it is impossible to tell whether the same ingredients were fresh. Apart from a higher nutritional value, fresh ingredients are also more flavorful.
There Are No Artificial Additives
Store-bought ice cream has chemical preservatives and artificial flavorings, which make it last longer and enhance its flavor. Homemade ice cream is healthier as it has no such additives.
You Can Personalize It
You can personalize your ice cream mixture to your liking. For instance, if you are inclined to chocolate chips and maple syrup, you will be able to indulge yourself with such to your heart’s content. You can even add extra ingredients, such as dried fruits or pistachios. The flavors you add are limited only by your imagination and what your local grocery store carries.
Recipes and Ingredients
There are many different ice cream recipes out there, and you can find recipes for different skill levels. We’ve found two great recipes: one for beginners and one for advanced ice cream chefs. If you’re interested in other recipes, try reading some ice cream cookbooks.
With only five ingredients, you will have your creamy and smooth homemade vanilla ice cream. What you’ll need:
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup sugar
Unlike baked items, you have a bit of wiggle room when it comes to homemade ice cream. For instance, you can make it creamier by using a higher cream to milk ratio. You can also add more sugar to make your ice cream sweeter. Do the opposite if you prefer having it lighter. The ingredients listed above will provide you with a rich but not an overpowering end product.
- Stir the milk, cream, and sugar into a saucepan. Put it on low heat until all the sugar dissolves. Stir often, and don’t let the mixture boil.
- Transfer the mixture into a container such as a measuring glass and stir in the vanilla extract. Chill mix it thoroughly for at least two hours. However, it would be better if you did this overnight.
- Pour the cold mixture into the ice cream-making machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Once the mixture is softly frozen, you can serve it or transfer it to an ice cream container and place it in your mini freezer so it can harden more.
For advanced ice cream types, you will need such ingredients as:
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup of milk
- 1 cup of sugar
- Vanilla extract
- Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites
- Mix the egg yolks with the sugar and whisk until the the mixture is pale yellow in color
- Whisk in your dairy products
- Cook the base on medium heat while stirring constantly until a custard forms
- Add your preferred flavorings
- Strain into a container to remove lumps, and let it sit in the fridge till it’s cold. If possible, let it rest overnight
- Churn your ice cream and let it harden in the freezer and it will be ready for serving
How to Pick the Right Recipe
The recipe you choose will depend on such factors as your cooking skills, the time you have at hand, the availability of the supplies you need, and so on. Make sure you weigh the pros and cons of each recipe before commencing. A delicious ice cream buffet may require simpler recipes, as you’ll be making multiple batches of ice cream, for example.
Customizing Your Ice Cream
You can transform your regular vanilla ice cream into customized treats using a few extra ingredients. Common customization tips and techniques include:
- Infuse the base with some flavor—while preparing your base, you can infuse it with different seasonings or spices. Vanilla beans are quite popular, but you can get creative with other flavors such as citrus zest, tea, lemongrass, and cinnamon
- You can swap the cream with almond milk, coconut milk, or any other dairy substitute. However, fat is a major part of your ice cream’s texture. Therefore, be careful that the final fat content is as close to the recipe listed above. For low or no-fat ice cream recipes, the fat’s creaminess is imitated by adding cornstarch.
- You can substitute the vanilla extract with mango, papaya sauce, apricot, or any other essence depending on your personal preference
- Freezing the extras—freezing your berries before adding them prevents them from breaking apart and discoloring
- Fold in the additions at the end—the ideal time to fold in your berries, nuts, chocolate chips, vanilla, and almond is when your homemade ice cream is nearly churned and almost solid. Doing this keeps them from getting crushed as the ice cream churns. As it is almost solid, the berries and nuts stay suspended rather than sink to the bottom
- For healthier ice cream, substitute sugar with maple syrup or honey
Altering the ice cream recipe could make it fail. Instead, find a recipe that uses your preferred ingredients. Or, try using different toppings (like homemade whipped cream from a whipped cream dispenser) to customize your ice cream where possible.
Putting the “Ice” in Ice Cream
There are different ways through which you can “ice” your ice cream. They include:
Automatic Ice Cream Maker
Automatic ice cream makers like the Whynter ice cream maker are operated by electricity. They sit on your countertop and can be purchased in many stores that have kitchen appliances and home goods. It is easy to use, and it does not require you to have any technical expertise or training.
Countertop ice cream makers such as the Breville countertop ice cream maker are great if you want to save on freezer space or don’t like to spend a lot of time pre-planning when the mood strikes for ice cream.
- It is easy to operate
- Many models have temperature displays and electronic timers which make operations easy and seamless
- Automatic ice cream makers are costlier than manual or hand cranks models
Manual Ice Cream Maker (Hand Crank)
As the name suggests, hand-crank ice cream makers are operated manually. For this reason, it might take you longer to make the ice cream. However, you could be able to produce better quality ice cream compared to automatic ice cream makers.
- Manual ice cream makers are less costly
- Although it takes longer to make the ice cream, the end product feels more authentic
- It will take you longer to prepare the ice cream
Freezer Method (Freeze and Stir)
Not everyone can afford to buy a machine or has the space to store one. Instead, you can use the freezer method to make your ice cream to get around using a machine. Once you prepare your ice cream mixture, chill it using an ice bath.
Put your mixture into a bowl made of stainless steel or plastic and pour your mixture into it. After around 45 minutes, check whether it has started to freeze near the edges. If it has, remove it and stir it vigorously using a whisk or a spatula. This breaks up the frozen sections. Return to the freezer. Continue doing this every 30 minutes until the ice cream is fully frozen. This may take two to three hours. If you have popsicle molds, you can also use this method to make ice cream bars.
- You don’t need any type of ice cream maker
- Making ice cream using this method can be rather tedious
Plastic Bag Method
In this method, you pour your ingredients into a quart-size plastic bag and seal tightly allowing as little air as possible. Slip it inside another quart-size bag and seal it too. Put the double-bagged ice cream mixture into a gallon size bag and fill it ice and rock salt. Again, let as much air as possible escape and seal the bag. Shake the bags vigorously for 8-10 minutes, making sure that the ice surrounds the ice cream mixture.
- The method is rather easy
- Can be a fun hands-on activity for kids
- Like the freeze and stir method, this method is also tedious
Not all ice cream has to come in the form of concrete-style or soft-serve-style ice cream. Milkshakes are also a valid consideration for anyone wanting to make ice cream at home. While you can use a traditional ice cream maker to make milkshakes, you can also invest in the best milkshake maker instead to get milkshakes with the perfect consistency every time. By utilizing a milkshake maker, you won’t need to worry about taking your mixture out at the right time or other factors that would need to be taken into consideration when making milkshakes with an ice cream maker.
- This method is easy & consistent for milkshake crafting
- Milkshake makers can be used to make other drink mixes that ice cream makers can’t do
- Buying a milkshake maker means owning another appliance
Soft Serve vs. Hard
One of the things people complain about when it comes to homemade ice cream is that it can sometimes get too hard. We share a few tips that will help you keep your ice cream from getting too hard or too soft.
- Make sure that the ice cream mixture is chilled and well-aged before commencing with the freezing process. This prevents the formation of huge ice crystals which form when the mixture is freezing
- Too much sugar can result in an ice cream batch that is too hard. Likewise, too little sugar can cause it to be overly soft
- If you prefer soft light ice cream, use condensed milk as opposed to whipping cream. As milk fat does not freeze, your ice cream will have a smooth texture
- You need to churn the ice cream as fast as possible to prevent the formation of large crystals. The faster you churn the mixture, the more the air you whip into it, thus preventing it from hardening.
- You can also prevent your ice cream from becoming too hard by adding a dash of alcohol before beginning the freezing or churning process. This is because alcohol does not freeze. Adding a tablespoon or two of vodka would be ideal as it has no taste. Thus, it does not affect the taste of the ice cream or its appearance.
How to Make Waffle Cones
Rather than serve your homemade ice cream in a bowl or a cup, why not enhance your experience by making homemade waffle cones? This is how to go about it.
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup of sugar (preferably granulated)
- ½ cup of all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup of milk
- ¼ of unsalted butter (melted)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- In a bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs until they are frothy or slightly pale. Add the milk, butter, and vanilla and whisk again
- Add the flour and salt into this mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth. Let it sit for around 5 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your iron.
- Scoop a generous amount of batter on to the iron and let the batter cook for around 1-2 minutes.
- Use a spatula to scrape the waffle off the iron and use a mold it around the cone maker. Make sure you press it hard so that you seal the seam completely.
You will need to make your waffles as soon as you’re ready to eat your ice cream. If they stay too long, they could get overly soft.
Storing Your Ice Cream After Making It
Now that you have your homemade ice cream, you will need to store it in the right way. For starters, ice cream detests temperature changes. Store it at 0ºF or below. Also, avoid storing it in the freezer door due to temperature fluctuations. Use airtight containers, or press a plastic wrap against the ice cream’s surface to keep crystals from forming.
Knowing how to make your own ice cream is a handy skill that is sure to impress, whether you make it in a blender, in an ice cream maker, or using liquid nitrogen. Whether you need to make your birthday party exceptional by serving it as a dessert or you want to indulge in a hot summer afternoon, ice cream is handy. Once you master the above recipes, you will be serving up ice cream scoops full of unique flavors to all your friends and family.