How To Make Ice Cream

7 easy steps to the quintessential cool treat

How to Make Ice Cream

Colleen Duffley

7 Easy Steps to Homemade Ice Cream

Thanks to user-friendly ice cream makers, making your own cool, delicious (and light) summer treat is easier than ever. Follow these simple steps. (See the last slide for recipes.)

Fast Facts: Ice cream is a frozen custard (or milk mixture) with air whipped into it. The custard or mix, especially for light ice cream, is a delicate balance of dairy products, sweetener, flavorings, and sometimes eggs. Each plays an important role in the overall outcome.

Lighten-Up Tip: A substantial amount of half-and-half combined with two percent reduced-fat milk produces delicious lower-fat ice cream with velvety smooth texture and rich flavor.

Steps to Great Ice Cream

Randy Mayor

1. Equipment

The most important piece of equipment is an ice-cream maker. You've got a couple of options:

  • Bucket freezer: (left) Yields the best results because salt lowers temperature to freeze the ice cream below 22 degrees (soft-serve consistency) so ice cream is firm. These are especially good for light ice creams, which tend to have a lower freezing point because of their higher sugar content.
  • Countertop machine: (right) Convenient (requires no salt or ice) and good for small batches. If you have space, keep the freezer bowl stashed in the freezer so you can make ice cream any time.
 

Steps to Great Ice Cream

Randy Mayor

2. Salt

While tabletop models rely strictly on a freezer bowl filled with a coolant, traditional bucket-style freezers require rock salt and ice. Salt lowers temperature to freeze ice cream below 22 degrees (soft-serve consistency), so ice cream is firm, even straight from the churn.

Steps to Great Ice Cream

Randy Mayor

3. Mix

Ice cream is a frozen custard (or milk mixture) with air whiped into it. The custard or mix, especially for light ice cream, is a delicate balance of dairy products, sweetener, flavorings, and sometimes eggs. Each plays an important role in the overall outcome.

In this step, you heat the milk, and combine the egg yolks and sugar separately. Sugar may cause the milk to curdle if heated, and the egg yolks may coagulate if exposed to extremely high temperatures. Gradually add half the hot milk to slowly heat the egg mixture.

Steps to Great Ice Cream

Randy Mayor

4. Cool

It's important to completely cool the ice-cream mix before freezing it. Accomplish this quickly by placing the pan in a large ice-filled metal bowl.

Or simply make the mix in advance and refrigerate, a process known among professionals as aging. Aging involves chilling the mix for four to 24 hours, allowing the proteins to swell and bind with the water molecules, which makes for a creamier product.

Steps to Great Ice Cream

Randy Mayor

5. Freeze

If you're using a bucket freezer, make sure to use plenty of salt. We recommend coarse rock salt because it will not slip easily between the ice or drain through the cracks of the bucket. Use crushed ice, which puts more of the surface area of the ice in contact with the brine. (This maintains lower temperatures in the freezer.) If not specified by the manufacturer, use about one cup of rock salt to every eight to 10 cups of ice.

Steps to Great Ice Cream

Randy Mayor

6. Ripen

Ripen the ice cream by transferring it to a freezer-safe container. This is the time to fold in cookies, candies, or sauces, such as caramel. Work quickly so the ice cream does not begin to thaw. And remember, less stirring is better, especially with the sauces. If you stir too long, the sauce will not ribbon or swirl through the ice cream. Once transferred to the freezer-safe container, let it stand in the freezer at least one hour or until firm.

Steps to Great Ice Cream

Randy Mayor

7. Soften

Let the ice cream stand at room temperature for about five to 10 minutes to soften slightly after it ripens. This allows it to soften, so it will scoop more easily. If it's still frozen solid, heat the scoop under hot running water, pat it dry, and scoop.

ice cream cones

Randy Mayor

Ice Cream Recipes

Once you learn the basic technique, the flavor possibilities are endless. Best of all, when you make your own, you can control the quality of the ingredients and the texture of the final product. Our recipes strike a balance between flavor, texture, and nutrition.

Ice Cream Recipes:
Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream (This received our Test Kitchens' highest rating!)
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream (shown)
Double Chocolate Ice Cream (shown)
Pecan Pie Ice Cream
Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
Strawberry Mint Ice Cream
Maple Walnut Buttercrunch Ice Cream
Peanut Butter, Banana, and Honey Ice Cream
Bourbon Pecan Ice Cream
Coconut Cream Pie Ice Cream
Peach Ice Cream

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