For some people, the thought of making ice cream at home takes them back to elementary school, when they had to shake a bag full of ingredients that somehow turned into ice cream.
“I never used to be a fan of homemade ice cream. I usually found it icy, goopy, soupy, crumbly, eggy, gritty or too buttery,” said Jeni Britton Bauer, owner of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, 375 W. 19th St.
Bauer found a way to make ice cream at home taste so good that she opened a shop, which now has locations all over the United States. And with new gadgets that are relatively inexpensive and the endless knowledge available through Google, other people can make ice cream at home and be happy at the results, too.
The first thing at-home ice cream makers have to pay attention to is what ingredients they want to use.
“What you start with is what you end with,” Bauer said. “Find ingredients you love and make them into ice cream.”
For a beginner, Bauer recommends the Cuisinart ICE-21 model, which depending on where it’s bought ranges from $50-$70. There are several other ice cream-making machines on the market, including those that require hand-cranking but not electricity.
“Although more expensive, self-contained freezing models exist, I discovered that I actually prefer the less-expensive canister type,” Bauer said. “It freezes the ice cream faster.”
The freezing container also needs to be completely frozen and usually takes 24 hours to freeze, so it’s best to get in the habit of keeping the container, wrapped in plastic, in the freezer.
When filling the ice cream maker, it’s best not to fill it up all the way, but leave a little room. The more ice cream there is taking up space in the maker, the less it will freeze correctly.
Texture, as Bauer previously pointed out, is tough to get right while making ice cream at home. If the ice cream is high in fat, it has a better chance of turning out with a smooth texture.
Fat slows the water molecules from gathering all together. The more fat content, the farther apart the molecules will be. When the ice cream is turning, those individual water molecules turn to ice and freezes the cream. With more fat, it will take longer for the cream to freeze, but the result will be creamier.
Another ingredient that affects the texture of the ice cream is sugar. If too much sugar is added, the ice cream won’t freeze at all, but the perfect amount will keep it from becoming a block of flavored ice.
It’s best to use a solid sweetener, like sugar, rather than a liquid sweetener, like honey, because the liquid will increase the iciness of the ice cream.
The easiest part about making ice cream at home is that with access to recipes in cookbooks and online, it’s not hard to do it right.