Homemade ice cream is fresh, delicious, and fun to make. What’s more, you can customize your flavors or use the best-quality ingredients you can find. But it can be tricky to get ice cream to have that perfect firm, yet creamy consistency that is the trademark of good ice cream. Follow these tips to improve your own ice cream making technique.
Start With the Best Ingredients
Ice cream is only as good as the ingredients used to make it. So if you can afford it, buy organic milk and cream and free-range eggs, making sure that everything is as fresh as can be. If you’re adding flavorings or ingredients, such as chocolate, vanilla, or fruit, spring for high-quality products. For instance, real vanilla, or even actual vanilla beans, make far better vanilla ice cream than imitation vanilla.
Know When to Add Flavorings
Flavorings, especially extracts or alcohol, should be added when the cooked custard has cooled. Don’t add them to the custard when it’s hot, or the flavors will deteriorate and won’t be as pronounced. You could even wait to stir them in until right before you pour the ice cream base into the ice cream maker.
Thoroughly Chill the Custard
Many ice cream recipes call for making a cooked custard out of eggs, sugar, and milk. After you’ve made the custard, it’s important to chill it in the refrigerator until it’s as cold as possible before putting it into your ice cream maker. Mixture overnight in the refrigerator, which will enable the mixture to be aerated as much as possible in the maker, yielding the creamiest, smoothest ice cream.
Freeze the Bowl
Speaking of freezing, if you’re using the type of ice cream maker that comes with a freezer bowl, make sure to freeze this bowl for at least 24 hours before making ice cream. If the bowl is not cold enough, chances are your ice cream will never freeze.
Start the Motor First
Particularly when using an ice cream maker with a freezer bowl, it’s important to turn on the motor before pouring into the ice cream base. The bowl is so cold that the mixture will freeze immediately upon contact, so you’ll want it to already be in motion so that the ice cream won’t freeze onto the bowl in a chunk.
Keep It Creamy
A common complaint about homemade ice cream is that it gets hard and icy when it’s stored in the freezer. There are several ways to keep your ice cream from freezing solid in the freezer. Sugar, corn syrup, or honey, as well as gelatin and commercial stabilizers, can all keep your ice cream at a softer consistency. Ice cream also stays softer when you store it in a shallow container, rather than a deep tub, and cover the surface of the ice cream with plastic wrap to keep ice crystals from forming.
With a little practice and some good recipes (whether it’s classic Vanilla or an adventurous flavor like Ovaltine ice cream), you’ll be well on your way to making delicious homemade ice cream that will delight your friends and family.