From my earliest memories homemade ice cream was a regular summertime treat. I don’t recall much of the preparation of said ice cream, only that I would “help” my dad as he hand cranked the bucket of sugary goodness- usually whilst sitting in the floor, working to the rhythm of whatever 70s rock was playing through his headphones- the cord of which was stretched from the console turntable across the room. I can see him sitting there in the shag carpet of the living room of our single wide trailer, back against the rust and green floral velour couch, bucket between his outstretched legs, head bobbing in time to the music and me perched atop the bucket holding down the cradle with the slight weight of my 2 year old self.
Later, I remember sitting on the porch with a bowl of the ice cream all sweet and sticky in the summer sunset.
As the years passed, and life changed a bit, homemade ice cream was a rare treat- usually reserved for camping or by special birthday request- this time with a motorized crank system that while effective, didn’t really feed into the nostalgia or the sentimental memory making as in the earlier years. By the time I was grown and had my own family, homemade ice cream kind of faded into the recesses of my memory and I would occasionally be reminded when my mom would surprise us with a batch. I finally asked her once for the recipe and then proceeded to try my hand at it. The recipe is so easy! There’s no need to make it a special occasion only treat. You can whip up a batch on a random Tuesday for a refreshing finish to any weeknight meal. You can serve this with fresh fruit, some warm cobbler, or if you're vanilla like me, all by itself!
The following recipe is my mother’s with a few small alterations I’ve made along the way denoted by a *.
Homemade Ice Cream:
8 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream*
1 ½ to 2 cups sugar-depending on your sweetness preference
6 eggs- beaten
1 TBSP Vanilla- I use Mexican Vanilla *
To a large pot, add milk, cream, sugar, and beaten eggs. It's important to add all the ingredients and blend cold so the eggs cook slowly as the milk heats- otherwise you are going to get some lumps of cooked egg or egg drop soup ribbons in your ice cream and no one really wants that. Cook on low to medium heat stirring continuously until liquid thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon. Keep the heat low- you don't want it to boil. This process takes about 20 minutes or so.
Next, pour the mix into the inner (metal) container of your ice cream freezer* and chill for several hours in the fridge. After the mixture is cool, place your container in the barrel of the ice cream freezer, add ice and rock salt** (super important step) and turn on the motor. Let it run while you eat dinner and it takes a little over an hour. You may need to top off the ice and salt once or twice.
* If you happen to be the happy owner of a fancy schmancy ice cream freezer like a Cuisinart or something you will want to 1/2 the recipe and chill the mix in a glass bowl before adding it to your freezer bowl and your machine.
**I found out the hard way that rock salt is apparently an essential ingredient... table salt won't do in a pinch. Trust me.
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