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 (including our secret ingredients), and the easiest ice cream maker on the planet, you really can make healthy homemade ice cream!
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!
What Are the Ingredients of Healthy Homemade Ice Cream?
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?
Here are a few healthier items to use right away to make any ice cream recipe healthier:
- Use rich, fresh milk (or pasteurized if you prefer), or any alternative milk of your choice sourced from a place you trust.
- Switch out the typical corn syrup and Sorbitol in commercial ice creams for better sweeteners. Try raw sugar, succanat, raw honey, or maple syrup.
The basic ingredients for our healthy homemade ice cream are:
- Fresh Milk
- Fresh Cream
- Organic Gelatin
- Sweetener, to taste
We use fresh, raw milk for our ice cream, but you can also use pasteurized. You can also use nut or coconut milk.
What Are the Steps to Making Homemade Ice Cream?
Also, include your kids or grand-kids in this homemade ice cream making process. It’s super simple to do and will give you an opportunity to talk to your kids about healthy treats and why we take time to make them. The more involved they are in the process of making this healthy ice cream, the more inclined they’ll be to eat it and brag about it to their friends.
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. Here are some tips about these:
- 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.
The unit comes with its own freezer bowls that take care of freezing your ice cream. These counter-top models are efficient, quick, and worth every penny. Here are a few more things to know about the counter-top ice cream maker:
- You do need to have room in your freezer for the bowl (in which the ice cream mixture is placed and where it turns into ice cream).
- It takes 12-24 hours to freeze the bowl completely.
- You can’t store the ice cream in the bowl; it must be removed once frozen or it will continue to freeze to the side of the bowl.
- For my family of seven, we needed to purchase an extra bowl to make enough ice cream for everyone.
How to Use a Counter-Top Ice Cream Maker
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.
Looking at the picture below to orient yourself, here are the basic steps of using a counter-top ice cream maker:
- The day before you need to make ice cream, place the unit’s freezer bowl into the freezer to chill. If you have room, you can simply leave it in your freezer so that it’s always ready.
- Mix up the ice cream base (see the recipe in this article).
- Plug in the base of the unit on a level surface and insert the frozen bowl.
- Pour the ice cream base into the frozen bowl and insert the paddle.
- Place the lid on top and switch the unit to on.
The bowl will turn and the paddle will act as an agitator to mix the base and freeze it evenly into ice cream. This process can take anywhere from 35-60 minutes depending on who cold your bowl is and your ambient temperature.
What is a Good Recipe for Homemade Ice Cream?
We use the homemade ice cream recipe below as a base for all our ice cream recipes. We add in various items like fruit, cocoa, peanut butter, etc., to make each batch a new treat. However, to begin with, this is a healthy, high quality homemade ice cream recipe.
- 4 Cups of Whole Fresh Milk
- 1 Cup of Cream
- 1 tablespoon of Organic Gelatin
- 1/2 Cup of Sweetener, to taste*
- Flavor or Additive – e.g., 1/2 cup of cocoa or 1 tablespoon of vanilla, optional**
- Warm milk and gelatin together until gelatin is dissolved. You do not need to heat the milk very high. We use fresh 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 you ice cream be smooth.
- Add sugar to warm milk mixture and stir to dissolve.
- 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 spatula 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.
- Remove the ice cream from the freezer about fifteen minutes before you need to eat it so it can start to soften.
*Choose honey, succanat (which will give a caramel flavor to your ice cream), raw sugar, rice syrup, monk fruit sugar or your favorite sweetener to give flavor to your ice cream. Add in ½ cup increments until the ice cream is sweet enough for your taste. Be sure any granulated sugar has been mixed long enough to dissolve.
**You can also add bits of fruit chocolate shavings and more as additives. Put these in a few minutes before the freeze cycle is complete to avoid them becoming too hard to eat.
See notes below in post.
If You’re Reducing Sugar in Homemade Ice Cream
If you’re reducing the sugar in your homemade ice cream, 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 whole milk and even extra cream.
- Be sure to add one tablespoon of organic beef gelatin. The gelatin will provide you with a smooth, creamy texture.
Tips on Using the Freezer Bowl in the Counter-Top Model
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.
- Remember 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 for whom you’re making ice cream, I recommend getting an extra bowl because it only makes two quarts tops.
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. Here’s a list of ice cream combinations that will delight you!
Cover photo gratefully attributed to this Pexels user.