Homemade Ice Cream: What do I need to know and where should I start?
July 27, 2011 8:26 AM   Subscribe

I bought an ice cream maker! (The well praised Cuisinart) Now what? Looking for tips, recipes, and all around homemade ice cream 101.

I've washed it out and stuck the bowl in the lowest part of my freezer. I'm headed to the store later today to pick up ingredients. I want to make everything this machine can make. Ice Cream, Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, all of it.

What ingredients do I need to keep on hand if I wanted ice cream in a moments notice? Most of our frozen delight cravings come randomly, so while we will occasionally plan to make ice cream.. it will mostly be a spontaneous event. I'd like to have "the basics" in order to do this. Especially for ice cream, what are the basic ingredients?

What is the best ice cream base you've tasted? Is it possible to make this base up ahead of time and just add flavoring before pouring it into the maker? Extra points if it has very few ingredients.

I'm scared about the raw eggs aspect of ice cream making. I know the chances of eggs containing salmonella are really low, but I don't fancy my luck. I know some eggs come pasteurized, are there any national (USA) brands? Will pasteurized eggs work for frozen treats? Is there something I could completely substitute in place of the eggs?

I know there are books out there, but I am extraordinarily bad at following cookbooks. I don't want a book. I'd happily take any blogs, tutorial videos, or informational websites about ice cream making though.

I'd also love to hear your experiences making homemade ice cream. What worked? What didn't work? What advice would you give to an excited but inexperienced cook?

(I know there are a ton of crazy wacky flavors out there, but I'm only interested in the more traditional flavors for now. After I'm a HICMM [Homemade Ice Cream Making Master], you might see another askMe from me about the wacky ones!)
posted by royalsong to Food & Drink (39 answers total) 87 users marked this as a favorite
You aren't using raw eggs. They are cooked, just not cooked to hardness. I serve this to my HIV+ husband and if I was worried at all, I wouldn't.

I love The Perfect Scoop by David Leibovitz. He has recipes without eggs (Philadelphia style) if you are completely opposed but the richness of (especially fresh from the hen house) eggs is unbelievable.

The basics are eggs (optional), sugar, whipping cream, milk, chocolate (cocoa and a good dark bar, chopped) and vanilla, both beans and extract. Honestly, I buy my whipping cream fresh because it's better out there.

Try the custard type. I completely f'd up my first time but it was worth it for an absolutely genius batch of ice cream on my second try.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:34 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I cannot usually be bothered to do the egg thing. I like it a little bit better, but not enough to do the work, especially in the heat. The term you want is Philadelphia-style.

I usually do 2 cups of cream, 1 cup of skim milk (I only ever have skim milk on hand). Then I mix in sugar (1ish cup) and flavourings to taste. You can use cream cheese or corn starch to thicken as well, though I rarely do and don't find it helps enough to be worth the trouble. I have found that adding alcohol keeps the texture very nice.

For instance, for vanilla: 2 cups cream, 1 cup milk, add sugar and vanilla until it tastes nice. Coffee: 2 cups cream, 1 cup milk, sugar, coffee with extra instant coffee dissolved in it, kahlua. Chocolate: melt some chocolate into the milk and cream, add sugar, add more cocoa if necessary, kahlua or other alcohol as desired, refrigerate to cool the milk back down.

When I don't have cream, I use 3 cups of milk and make ice milk, or water and flavourings to make gelato.
posted by jeather at 8:36 AM on July 27, 2011

If uncooked eggs alarm you, make your ice cream with a cooked custard base. I've used this one a few times and it's been great.

Keep pecan halves available at all times. Crisp them up a little in some salted butter (but avoid burning them), then add them to the ice cream maker once the custard has started to thicken.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:39 AM on July 27, 2011

I haven't read this book but I have eaten ice cream at one of her shops and it is incredible.

My partner makes the ice cream in our house so I don't know many tips and tricks except that apparently making the base a day early and letting it cool in the fridge overnight before churning is a good idea.
posted by ghharr at 8:41 AM on July 27, 2011

Half-and-half and sugar are the only two things you need to keep around. It always seemed silly to me to add 1-to-1 ratios of cream and milk. Isn't that just half-and-half? But I digress. Anyhow, I would then just add sugar to taste and any other fruits/chocolate/cookies/flavorings just after it started to solidify. Done.
posted by thorny at 8:41 AM on July 27, 2011

I have Lebowitz too, and it's a great book. When you start making ice cream you will be struck by how easy it is to do. If you have an idea for a flavor, you can probably make it with 15 minutes of prep work. Keep milk, cream, and sugar around and you're ready for almost anything. (The custard recipes -- using eggs -- generally have a better texture but are a little harder to do and require more planning.)

Metafilter's own Jonathan Soma also runs some sort of "Ice Cream Club" in Brooklyn -- the website has some good basic tips.
posted by grobstein at 8:41 AM on July 27, 2011

When you use eggs in ice cream, it's to make custard. You'll be bringing the mixture up to ~175F, and the eggs will no longer be raw.

Other basic ingredients are milk, cream, sugar, and whatever flavorings (fruit, vanilla, chocolate, spices, extracts, juices, etc.) or chunky additions (peanuts, cookie pieces, broken candy, fudge) that you want to use.

You can freeze all sorts of mixtures in an ice cream maker and get palatable results, but ratios between eggs, fat, sugar and liquids will have a considerable effect on texture. If you don't use eggs, then you generally need more milk fat (from heavy cream) to make up for them. You don't have to follow recipes, but it might help to read enough of them to get a sense of workable ratios.

It's not easy to do this spur-of-the-moment and get satisfactory results, because the mixture has to be thoroughly chilled BEFORE you even put it into the ice cream maker. Those freezer bowls, frozen in a normal home freezer, can't absorb enough heat to make ice cream out of a warm (or even room temperature) mixture.
posted by jon1270 at 8:41 AM on July 27, 2011

Also, eat your ice cream the same day or at least within a week if you want it at its best, and move it from the freezer to the refrigerator an hour before serving. Home-made ice cream usually lacks the various gums and things that are added to commercial ice creams to make them 'soft-serve'.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:41 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I just made a variation on David Lebovitz's basic frozen yogurt that's about as simple as it gets: 3 cups Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup honey. Done. You don't even really need to mix it first, just chuck it all in the ice cream maker.

Barefoot Contessa's Chocolate Gelato is also completely killer. You can leave out the Kahlua if it's not something you usually have on hand.
posted by bcwinters at 8:47 AM on July 27, 2011

I have the same maker, and have a few tips and tricks.

One if you want to make ice cream at a moment's notice, you need to keep the cylinder in the freezer at all times. Otherwise its a multiple hour process to get that cylinder cold enough to freeze ice cream. There is not a cooling element in that machine (you need to get to very high end machines to get there) so it relies on the coldness of the bowl to chill the ice cream.

Along those lines the first couple of times I tried it I didn't let my ice cream mixture chill enough and when I put it in the bowl to freeze it it warmed up the cylinder too much and didn't set up. Make sure your base is very cold before trying to put it in the cylinder. I make custard base ice creams where I bring the temp up to 175 so I need to cool the base in the fridge (or in a pinch the freezer) until it feels chilled to touch to get everything to work properly. Many recipes also use an ice bath to bring down the temp of the base.

If you're making custard (egg) based ice creams then be very careful when adding the egg mixture back into the warm cream/milk mixture. It helps to let the milk base cool a bit before adding the eggs in or you will likely end up with vanilla flavored scrambled eggs. Most recipes tell you to keep the mixture on a medium heat, I keep mine on low and very slowly bring the temp up to 175 to get my custard. If you do get some "scrambled" eggs its actually fine to run the mixture through a sieve/strainer/cheesecloth to remove the egg chunks. It sounds nasty but this works fine.

Find a base that works for you. I use this one.

My favorite recipe right now is to make that base, after warming the cream, but before adding the eggs I put a bunch of mint leaves in it and let it steep for about an hour, then warm it back up and add the eggs. Fantastic fresh mint ice cream (and the steeping process does a good job of bringing the temp back down and makes adding the eggs easier).
posted by bitdamaged at 8:53 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

You need to get Ben & Jerry's Book.
It is a really great book - with tons of great tips and recipes for making ice cream.
posted by Flood at 9:02 AM on July 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

One of the recipes in the Cuisinart booklet is essentially "prepare a package of instant pudding and throw it into the ice cream maker." This won't really help you with other ice cream recipes, but the effort-to-deliciousness ratio can't be beat. You can use all the prep time you've saved practicing your Bill Cosby "frizzle frazzle pudding pop" impression.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:02 AM on July 27, 2011

We like sorbert here at Chez Likeso. Easiest, quickest and healthiest dessert in the world, as you can just about throw whatever fruit you have into the mix. We do almost always use slightly overripe to near black bananas (so no sugar needed) and orange juice as a base. A perennial favorite: 2 bananas, splash of OJ (1/4 cup, I guesstimate), 2 nectarines, and some seedless grapes if you have them. Peel bananas and take out the pits in the nectarines, but leave the skins on both nectarines and grapes for fiber. Chuck everything into a blender, run on high for a half a minute or so: think "gloop". Pour into ice cream machine.

We also love green tea (matcha) ice cream with aduki beans, but that's mr.likeso's secret recipe for special occasions and I don't know it...
posted by likeso at 9:06 AM on July 27, 2011

(did I just say "sorbert"?)
posted by likeso at 9:08 AM on July 27, 2011

David Lebovitz does have a number of his recipes on his blog. I've always had luck with them.

Party ice cream tip: whatever ice cream you make, freeze it in a springform pan (with or without crushed cookie, nut, or graham cracker base). Top as desired - you can make a really spectacular banana split dessert this way, but fresh fruit and cream is super-easy. Let the "cake" sit just a few minutes and cut with a sharp chef's knife dipped in hot water.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:11 AM on July 27, 2011

The Ceres line of juices are great bases for making easy sorbets (sorry, I don't know the recipe by heart - memail me if you want me to look it up tonight) in flavors that don't sound easy.
posted by Mchelly at 9:24 AM on July 27, 2011

1. There is a book called the Ultimate Ice Cream Book by Bruce Weinstein. It has many excellent recipes, including a divine lemon sorbet. Every recipe is followed by a bunch of variations. Apparently I am not the first person to think of cantaloupe-basil sorbet.
2. When you make strawberry sorbet, add a tablespoon or two of balsamic vinegar. It makes it deeper and richer and wonderful.
3. Here is a recipe for the very best ice cream I know how to make:

Nutella Gelato
3 egg yolks
1/2cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup nutella

Mix the egg yolks and sugar together until they are thick and light yellow.
Heat the milk and cream in the top of a double boiler, over simmering water. Add the yolks/sugar. Stir gently until the mixture (custard) thickens a bit. Remove from the heat, whisk in the nutella. Put this in a bowl in the fridge. Put plastic wrap on the surface of the custard, otherwise it will develop a skin. Once it is cooled, process in ice cream maker.

You could probably make the custard ahead a couple of days, and store it in the fridge.
posted by Adridne at 9:26 AM on July 27, 2011

Seconding Soma's Ice Cream Club, and especially is 2:1:0.5 ice cream base (2 cups of cream, 1 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of sugar, and a bit of vanilla extract.) It's the basis for virtually all my ice cream adventures (including my wife's favorite: mint chocolate chip and my favorite: green tea).
posted by JMOZ at 9:27 AM on July 27, 2011

It always seemed silly to me to add 1-to-1 ratios of cream and milk. Isn't that just half-and-half?

No. Half-and-half is not a well-defined term; the milkfat of different brands of half-and-half can vary substantially, from 10.5 – 18%. By contrast Heavy Whipping Cream is at least 36% (typically 40%) and whole milk at 3.25%. That's still a range but it's a smaller range than half-and-half.

I know some eggs come pasteurized, are there any national (USA) brands? Will pasteurized eggs work for frozen treats? Is there something I could completely substitute in place of the eggs?

Davidson's pasteurized eggs are available in most of the country. We've had nothing but good results with them for all kinds of things, including ice cream. If you can't find them you can always pasteurize eggs yourself.

Finally, remember what Ben & Jerry say: "There is no such thing as an unredeemably bad batch of homemade ice cream."
posted by jedicus at 9:30 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I just made ice cream for the first time a few days ago! I didn't bother with the eggs. I used a recipe that called for sweetened condensed milk to add a little richness instead, and my ice cream came out just fine.

I think I will try the custard thing on another day, but I just didn't want to have to worry about getting the eggs right the first time around when I was already worried about testing out my machine for the first time.

My recipe (for peach ice cream) was: 1 pt whipping cream, 1 can condensed milk, 1 cup whole milk, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 2 lbs pureed peaches. It isn't THE BEST ICE CREAM EVAR or anything but it's a damned sight better than much of what's available at the store.
posted by BlueJae at 9:40 AM on July 27, 2011

The very best ice cream we ever had was made from only blackberries, cream and sugar. It was intensely delicious. We guessed at proportions, and we haven't made it for a few years (we have no ice cream maker now, nor blackberry bushes) but iirc it was roughly 1 quart of thick cream to 2 quarts of blackberries, and maybe 1 pint of sugar.
posted by anadem at 9:42 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

fwiw, eggs can defiantly be used in either the cooked custard recipes or ALSO in uncooked form. I have made ice cream with both. the uncooked recipes will have you eating ice-cream within 1/2 hour or so, custard types are usually about 10-14 hours thereabouts, because you have to thoroughly cool the cooked mixture. I have heard the estimate is 1 in 20,000 factory farm eggs may be contaminated (you could eat about 4 raw eggs a week for 96 years at those odds, or with the recipe I use that is about 4 pints of ice cream a week). I use local source eggs (and cream when possible), wash the eggs prior to using and feel pretty safe with the occasional raw egg.
posted by edgeways at 9:50 AM on July 27, 2011

I have used this model for years. Definitely keep your bowl in the freezer. Keep all your ingredients in the fridge, too.

We use it every couple days and just toss in what ever we have on hand- usually fruit juices from the Mexican market, or rootbeer (we add milk) or anything similar.

If you want to get all fancy and make something from an actual recipe, here's my favorite no-cook one (Requires you whip cream, though): Kulfi


I don't necessarily put strawberries on top, though they're nice, and if I have it handy I often add rosewater. But the base recipe (the dairy products) is useful for any spice ice cream. Cinnamon ice cream is pretty good to put on top of a pie, for instance.

Again, refrigerate the ingredients for a few hours first.

The sweetened condensed milk flavor does come through, which I like, because it reminds me of drinks and desserts I've had overseas, but it's not to everyone's taste.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:14 AM on July 27, 2011

Seconding the Ben & Jerry's book.

As for the cream/milk/half and half conundrum, you have some flexibility here -- it's not like your ice cream would explode if you used more milk and less cream or whatever. It would affect the creamy consistency, though -- the more fat you put in your ice cream base, the richer it is. So using either half-and-half OR using a cream/milk mix would both "work". Ben and Jerry do have recommendations for three different bases (using different percentages of cream and milk in each, and there's one that even uses condensed milk), so you can sample and choose the one you prefer.

And using fruit juices as a base for sorbet is a good idea; I'd recommend something that's more of a fruit nectar, though; something that's got a little more fruit pulp/fruit sediment/whatever in it to give the sorbet a little more "body".

Oh -- and the biggest tip I can give is that when it comes to making ice cream, both the freezer container AND the ice cream mix have to be cold. As in, after you mix up the ice cream base, put it in the fridge for at LEAST an hour.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:19 AM on July 27, 2011

I LOVE my cuisinart ice cream maker!

I always buy some nice quality REAL Vanilla Extract, not the imitation stuff.
I also mix in some raw (unbleached) sugar as part of the sugar mix.

My absolute favorite recipe is Jello Cherry Cheesecake. Just buy one of the Jello Cherry Cheesecake mixes from the store (it's not cheating because it tastes so good).

Your mix box comes with 3 packets.
1. cherry pie filling
2. cheesecake powder mix
3. graham cracker crumbs

A side note about mix-ins and your cuisinart. You will dump all of your extra ingredients in during the last 3-5 minutes of blending. Be sure you don't overfill. For that reason, I never use all of the packets. (We'll probably use half of the pie filling and graham crackers and maybe 1/6 to 1/3 of the cheesecake mix)

I'm not sure what the volume for your mixer is, but for mine, the ingredients for basic vanilla ice cream are:
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Vanilla Extract (to taste)

For the sugar, I use regular table sugar, the raw sugar, and the cheesecake powder mix. It's probably roughly a 2:2:1 ratio or 3:3:1 ratio. The more raw sugar you use, the less that seems to fully dissolve (but I like the taste). The more cheesecake powder you use, the thicker the ice-cream gets (since it's turning it into cheesecake). Also, we'll be adding more cheesecake mix at the end as well. Experiment a bit to find the texture you prefer.

Mix the sugar concoction with the whole milk until it seems like all the sugar is mostly dissolved (1-2 minutes with a hand whisk works for me).

Next, add the cream and vanilla and mix thoroughly.

At this point, you can taste the batter to see if you want to add more vanilla or maybe a sprinkling of the cheesecake mix (but don't add too much!)

Your batter is ready. You can put it in the fridge to chill for a few minutes if you'd like, but as long as you didn't take a lot of time preparing it, it should be ok.

Plug in the base (make sure it's turned off)

It's now time to remove your freeze bowl from the freezer. (A side note on storing your freeze ring: I can't remember if I read this in the manual or online, but I tend to cover the top of the bowl with plastic-wrap and then put the whole bowl inside of a plastic bag. Seems to keep the freezer taste out of the bowl)

Place the bowl on the base. Put in the plastic insert and cover with the clear top and turn it on. It may take a couple revolutions for the plastic insert to properly seat itself. Make sure the clear top is secure. You'll be letting it mix for 20-30 minutes.

Now, it's time to grab the graham crackers (this is what ties the whole recipe together). Take about half the packet and pour it into a bowl. You need to basically follow the recipes from the Mix box on preparing the graham cracker pie crust. This involves melting some lightly salted butter (I use country crock) and mixing it with the crumbs. Then toss it into the fridge for it to cool. Sometimes I do this before starting the mix, just to ensure I have enough time for it to cool.

(A note about the graham crackers. My first several attempts at this recipe, I just dumped half a packet of the crumbs into the mixing machine 3-5 minutes before it was done. However, since it's dry, the graham cracker particles separate and practically dissolve, denying you your full cherry cheesecake experience. Mixing it with butter and cooling it down will create small graham cracker balls that really tie together the recipe. The first time I tried it, I only had salted butter so I thought it would be a disaster, but honestly, I think the slight saltiness of the graham cracker pieces goes great with the overall sweetness of the ice cream.)

Back to the mixer. I've found that sometimes during mixing, my ice cream will stick to the sides and create firm walls on the inside of the freeze bowl. If left unchecked, it will essentially insulate the liquid ice cream mix in the middle of the bowl causing it to not freeze properly. I don't know the best solution for this, but for me, using sturdy chopsticks to sorta scrape the sides of the bowl as it spins seems to help (hold the chopstick stationary or move it slowly up and down the wall as the bowl spins). Take care not to push too hard or you may damage your mixing motor (it will slow down a lot and make a strained noise if you push too hard).

According to the instructions, your mix-ins need to go in around 5 minutes prior to the end of mixing. This is usually around 20 minutes or so when your ice cream will start looking more like ice cream. It won't be fully firmed up, but it won't be liquidy anymore. After you've made a few batches you'll recognize when it's time to add the rest of your ingredients. I always start with the graham crackers. Pull the bowl from the fridge and pinch off small pieces (I usually use BB sized up to marble sized). I used to try to make them spherical, but it takes too much time. I just pinch and drop.

Next, I usually add a bit more cheesecake mix. maybe 1/8 a cup, depending on my tastes and how much I added up front. You'll notice a change in texture after you add it. Finally, you want to add the cherry pie filling. I usually use about half the package, but honestly, it depends on how much room is left in your freeze bowl. Also, I always add the filling at the end since I like a 'marbled' look. If you let it mix too long, it will blend more with the ice cream and turn it all pink... which is still good, but not the end product I'm looking for.

In a perfect world, I let it mix the filling for 10-20 seconds or so, then I shut it off, however I've had times that I had to let it go longer if it looked like the ice cream wasn't firm enough. A caveat though, the ice cream (at least in my experience) will never be completely firm. I almost always have to put it in the freezer for an hour or two to get it to the 'right' consistency.

Once the machine is off, remove the clear top and pull out the plastic insert. This is the fun part. :) Have a nice bowl handy (to put the ice cream in) and scrape off the ice cream into the bowl. I have a couple wooden spoons I usually use for this. Once you've scraped as much as you can, lick the rest off (highlight of the experience!). Follow up with scraping the rest of the ice cream from the freeze bowl. (again, I use the wooden spoon since I think it's probably safer for the freeze bowl). You'll probably find some pure vanilla (or frozen cream) at the bottom of the bowl. This used to bug me (since it meant the mix wasn't thorough) but now, I actually like it since it gives the final product a more home-made feel.

Once all the ice cream has been scraped out, verify the quality by eating a big spoonful, then smooth the top and toss it in the freezer.

Time for cleanup. On the side of my freeze-bowl it says not to let it come into contact with a heat source. I've always assumed this meant even warm or hot water. I usually rinse it out with cool water (and a little dish soap). Be careful since thin films of water will turn directly to ice and could get your fingers stuck (or tongue if you never watched "A Christmas Story"). Once the greasiness is gone I fill it up to the top with cool water until the freeze bowl has reached room temperature again (could take an hour or so). I then rinse it out one more time, put plastic wrap over the top, put it in another plastic bag, and toss it back into the freezer.
(Another side note: If you don't let the bowl come back to room temp before you put it back in the freezer, you'll get ice in the bowl)

I think that's it. If you had pie filling left over, it usually means you get to make another batch in a few days. However, I find that while the pie filling and graham crackers usually last for only 2 batches, the cheesecake mix lasts a lot longer. DON'T USE TOO MUCH! or you'll have frozen cheesecake (which is definitely good the times I accidentally made it, but it's not our goal here).

For other ice cream recipes (even just vanilla) I will often supplement the sugar mix with cheesecake mix since it adds such a great flavor.

Next time I'll talk about my misadventures with Dark Chocolate Curry Ice Cream.
posted by johnstein at 10:19 AM on July 27, 2011 [6 favorites]

johnstein makes a good point- every recipe I've tried makes too much for this little machine, so cut it in half.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:28 AM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

We really enjoyed this caramel ice cream. Ingredients are minimal. I would also say that you should never underestimate the deliciousness of vanilla-bean ice cream. I've only ever used the Ben & Jerry's base, which does contain eggs, but as others have said, has never caused a problem. Other flavors we've enjoyed have been peach (a little puree in the base and a lot of chunks thrown in near the end) and mulberry (there was a bush down the street, so hey!).
posted by Gilbert at 10:56 AM on July 27, 2011

What bitdamaged said about freezing the bowl and chilling the mixture is very important. If your freezer is not at 0° and your bowl hasn't been in there long enough, you'll have problems. Ditto for not chilling the mixture for several hours. For the first use, I would make sure the bowl has been in the freezer 24 hours, just because the first time we used ours, overnight was not long enough. Be careful not to overfill the bowl, as the mixture will expand as it freezes. It's nice to have a silicone spatula to occasionally stop and give a stir, mostly I poke at the lumps of ice cream stuck in the middle of the paddle, though it is probably unneccessary. Don't worry too much about the icecream that freezes instantly around the sides- I've found that it incorporates back in by the end of the churning. Don't freak out if you see it start melting, which is what I did the first couple times, ending the churning too soon. Keep your mixer on one and pretty much let the thing go until it starts "clicking" (this is the paddle getting stuck while the machine keeps going. The KA ice cream maker was designed with the free plastic connection from the paddle to the attachment at the machine to avoid burning out the motor).

I like to stick the final container for the ice cream in the freezer when I start churning so the ice cream on the bottom doesn't immediately melt when I start scooping it into the container.

You'll want a candy thermometer if you don't have one for making egg custard. Silicone spatulas are great because they do not stiffen up when cold.

If you get a batch that doesn't churn up, you can always try removing the custard, putting it in the fridge and washing out the bowl and freezing overnight and going again, or just have milkshakes instead of ice cream.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:37 AM on July 27, 2011

I love Lebowitz's book, but I use its recipes as inspirations for the simpler no-custard type of ice cream that the Ben & Jerry's book features. I make Lebowitz's Malted Milk Ball ice cream, but I don't bother heating the eggs and then let them cool...I mean, who can wait that long?!
posted by wenestvedt at 1:21 PM on July 27, 2011

The advantage of keeping cream on hand, instead of half-and-half, is that it keeps a lot longer. Cream will keep for a month, easy. And given your goal of making ice cream at a moment's notice, that seems like a pretty valuable trait.

Also, I want to add my voice to the chorus of people saying that you can just get good, local eggs. I get mine from my own chickens, and obviously have no concerns about salmonella. If I gave or sold eggs to a friend, and one of my chickens got sick, I'd just call my friend and tell 'em not to eat the eggs.
posted by waldo at 7:14 PM on July 27, 2011

I have that ice cream maker. A few tips:

1. 2 cups heavy cream & 1 cup half & half is killer. Try half as much sugar as a recipe calls for.
2. Heat that up on the stove. While it is hot but below boiling, any herb or spice you put in will infuse into the ice cream. Infuse for 30 minutes and remove the herb before proceeding. My fave combo is thai basil & kaffir lime leaves.
3. I chill the cream milk in the freezer (to the point of almost starting to freeze) before putting in the ice cream maker. If I don't do that the ice cream is too soft.
4. Your ice cream will taste better with salt in it. Salt brings out flavors.
5. This is just my opinion but I think it is tacky to serve guests ice cream straight from the ice cream maker freezing bowl.
6. Alcohol has a different freezing temperature than milk and so adding it helps prevent the dreaded ice crystals.
posted by conrad53 at 8:42 PM on July 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I almost skipped answering this question, but since you did tag it with sorbet, you mention sorbet in your post, and because you talked about impromptu ice cream, I decided to share. My absolute favorite ice cream maker treat that can be made without any prior thought with items from the pantry is this ginger pear sorbet recipe. Not ice cream, but it's a really delicious frozen confection!
posted by sugarbiscuit at 8:48 PM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

We've made homemade mango ice cream and it's pretty delicious, if you like mangos. It's a special and rare treat not often found at the store.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:37 PM on July 27, 2011

it's not my firsthand experience, but this month's saveur has a piece on someone from ohio who obsessed with the chemistry of ice cream mouthfeel and super saturated flavoring and has her home-fitted recipes for the starter and how to add flavors to it. it may eitherbe on the website for free or you could check it out from a library--iirc it was a little unorthodox. she uses cream cheese i think in the base, and cornstarch maybe? sounded interesting.
posted by ifjuly at 9:48 AM on July 28, 2011

it's not my firsthand experience, but this month's saveur has a piece on someone from ohio who obsessed with the chemistry of ice cream mouthfeel and super saturated flavoring and has her home-fitted recipes for the starter and how to add flavors to it. it may eitherbe on the website for free or you could check it out from a library--iirc it was a little unorthodox. she uses cream cheese i think in the base, and cornstarch maybe?
I've not read the article but that sounds very much like the Jeni's Splendid formula. Her book was linked above. It sounded very weird, but we did a four way taste off between her ice cream and David Leibovitz and two others that escape me at the moment, using mint chocolate chip as our official comparison. Jeni's was the crowd favorite by miles, despite the seemingly odd ingredients. IIRC, she is from Columbus Ohio.
posted by Lame_username at 12:44 PM on July 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've had great luck this summer with the Cook's Illustrated Master Recipe for Fruit Sorbets:

2 cups fruit puree or juice
3/4 to 1-1/4 cups sugar
0 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon vodka or other alcohol

The full recipe, with the usual Cook's explanations, at Amazon. Here you'll find the details for apple, blueberry, grapefruit, lemon, mango, orange, peach, pineapple, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry and watermelon sorbets.
posted by kortez at 3:18 PM on July 28, 2011

for the record, yes, it was Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. thanks for jogging my memory!
posted by ifjuly at 7:38 PM on July 28, 2011

Response by poster: I am totally covered in cocoa powder, but I think my first attempt at ice cream was a success! Chocolate with Almonds.

Thanks for all your suggestions and ideas, everyone!
posted by royalsong at 4:49 PM on July 30, 2011 [2 favorites]

Just a potentially-useful thought: I have been having a hankering for savory icecream all summer long.
posted by aniola at 12:08 AM on July 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

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