Homemade Ice Cream

Making ice cream 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 actually tastes. Just keep in mind this is not low-fat low-calorie. In fact you’d be better off calling this the full-fat high-cal 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 to 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

  • 1/2 cup milk (Whole or 2% work best)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 cups crushed ice
  • 4 tablespoons salt
  • 2 quart size plastic bags
  • 1 gallon size plastic freezer bag
  • a hand towel or gloves to keep fingers from freezing as well

Basic Directions

Begin with 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 may 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 and fill the gallon sized bag with ice, then sprinkle 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 to 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.

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 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 tablespoons 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.

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