Here are some simple tips and tricks to help you make homemade ice cream that’s tastier and healthier than any you’ve made before. With wholesome ingredients and handy tools, you really can make ice cream at home!
To learn a few more kitchen tricks and tips, be sure to check out The Homestead Kitchen chapter of our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead. We can even teach you how to make your own sprinkles to top all the fabulous ice creams you’re going to make. With over 400 pages of homesteading information on eight different topics, presented on four different levels of homesteading experience, you’re bound to find something you can do!
Homemade Ice Cream is Healthier
Making homemade ice cream is a great opportunity to de-junk a favorite treat. Have you ever read the back of a box of ice cream? Uh, please do. Even if you don’t believe The Healthy Home Economist when she tells you that there’s anti-freeze in your ice cream, it would still be nice to be able to pronounce all the words on the box. Besides, why ingest corn syrup and natural flavors if you don’t have to?
Use rich, raw milk (or pasteurized if you prefer) or any alternative milk of your choice sourced from a place you trust. Use raw egg yolks, but only from pasture raised hens you trust. I would never add raw, store-bought eggs to anything.
Switch out the typical corn syrup and Sorbitol in commercial ice creams for better sweeteners. Try raw sugar, sucanat, raw honey, maple syrup or even agave. (Agave isn’t really the healthiest thing, but this is the treat section, right?)
Just by doing these few things, you’ve taken a store bought nightmare indulgence into the realm of whole foods, won’t-go-out-of-it’s-way-to-kill-you-young. We’ve even switched out the sugar for raw honey and had this stuff for lunch! Yes, I am the best mother in the world.
Of course, to go with that healthier ice cream, you may want to learn to make rich homestead cakes. Click below to learn more:
Tips for Making Perfect Homemade Ice Cream
Its probable that the less sugar you use, the more firm your ice cream will be once its frozen. To counteract this, be sure to add lots of healthy fat to your ice cream base. Use egg yolks, whole milk and even added cream. Oh, and the most important thing: add one tablespoon of organic beef gelatin. The gelatin will provide you with a smooth, creamy texture.
Homemade Ice Cream Equipment
You really don’t need any fancy equipment to make homemade ice cream. All you really need are the ingredients, a bowl and a whisk. A freezer is a must, too. You can learn how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker here.
Ice Cream Makers
There are several kinds of ice cream makers designed for home use. There’s this classic one that most of use are familiar with. Or, for a slightly more nostalgic look, you can get the wood barrel one here. These ice cream makers create great ice cream and they’re easy to use. The units usually come with a recipe book and all those recipes can be fun to try.
The downside of these models is that they require you use ice and rock salt to freeze the ice cream. I never have ice on hand (no room in my freezer) and I only ever kept rock salt to make ice cream.
So, I decided to try this Cuisinart counter-top ice cream freezer. I have to admit it was a birthday gift to myself since I don’t normally spend money on something so not-necessary-to-the-homestead. In the time we’ve had it, we’ve certainly gotten our money’s worth.
The unit comes with its own freezer bowls that take care of freezing your ice cream. True, you have to have room in the freezer for the bowl to freeze 12-24 hours before you want to make ice cream. However, for the ease of use of these ice cream makers, I’ll take a 24 hour inconvenience.
How to Use a Counter-top Ice Cream Freezer
Here’s a quick tutorial on how to use a counter-top ice cream freezer. These are a bit different from the ice cream makers of my youth, but certainly not complicated.
A Simple Ice Cream Recipe:
- Four cups of whole, raw milk
- One cup of cream
- 1 tablespoon of organic gelatin
- Start with 1/2 cup of some kind of sweetener – honey, sucanat (which will give a caramel flavor to your ice cream), raw sugar, rice syrup, whatever – to taste
- One to three farm fresh, egg yolks – optional, but don’t use store bought (my advice)
- Any kind of flavor or additive – like 1/2 cup of cocoa or 1 tablespoon of vanilla – optional
- You can also add bits of fruit, chocolate shavings and more; put these in a few minutes before the freeze cycle is complete to avoid them becoming too hard to eat
- Warm milk and gelatin together until gelatin is dissolved. You do not need to heat the milk very high. We use raw milk to make our ice cream so we watch the temperature closely. Usually around 100 F is enough to dissolve the gelatin. The gelatin will help
- Mix the milk and all the other ingredients well (I use my blender).
- Pour the mixture into the previously frozen bowl that fits into the unit. The unit that sits on your counter. The unit that does not require bags of ice or boxes of salt.
- Put the paddle inside the bowl, place the lid on top and turn the unit to on.
- Wait about twenty minutes, or until you hear the unit start to slow down its rotations. You’ll be able to see through the top to determine if the ice cream is frozen to your satisfaction. Put in your additives, if you have them and allow them to mix in for a few minutes.
- Remove the ice cream immediately from the bowl or you’ll have a layer of ice cream freeze hard to the side of the bowl. Use a soft saptula so you don’t scrape the sides of your bowl.
- If you need to store your ice cream, line a bread pan with parchment paper and empty your ice cream bowl into it. Freeze the ice cream in the pan. Pull the parchment paper out with your frozen ice cream inside, wrap up and put into a freezer bag or suitable container. I have some glass containers I use when I store my ice cream. Honestly, we eat it up right away most of the time.
A Few Notes
Like I said, you have to place the bowl to the unit in your freezer so make sure you have freezer space for that – it’s a 2 qt., 7 inch bowl.
You can’t use the same bowl twice in a row. The best you’ll get the second time around is milkshake consistency. You’ll need to completely re-freeze the bowl to make another batch. That’s why we have two bowls and always freeze both ahead of when we’ll need to make homemade ice cream. You can’t really ever have too much ice cream, after all. Too little can cause fist fights at family night. If you have more than four people you’re making ice cream for, I recommend getting an extra bowl because it only makes two quarts tops.
If you’d like to add sprinkles made from natural dye, you can try these. Or, like I said above, grab our book and learn to make your own.
If you’d like to learn how to soak and crisp nut to add to your homemade ice cream, try this.
If you’d like to make your own mint ice cream with real mint, you may want to grab out book Herbs in the Bathtub. With this book, you can learn to grow culinary and medicinal herbs wherever you live.
Favorite Flavors of Homemade Ice Cream?
What are our favorite flavors? That’s a very relative question. I am really not respecter of ice creams; I love them all.
We turned a kefir, Marionberry smoothie into ice cream by adding enough cream to get to four or five cups and 1 cup of raw sugar and that was simply divine. It tasted a bit like a sherbet because the kefir gave it a little kick.
Our rose petal ice cream was divine – like eating a fairy. To see that recipe, click here.
Want to sneak veggies into your ice cream? Here’s our recipe for sweet potato ice cream.
Another tasty invention was salted vanilla. Simply a regular vanilla ice cream recipe with sea salt added.
Salted caramel is probably our favorite of the recipes we’ve tried. It’s made with sucanat, with all that natural caramel flavor infusing your ice cream with wonderfulness. Experiment with new flavors as often as possible!
Cover photo gratefully attributed to this Wikipedia Commons user.