Guide: Making Ice Cream

Making ice cream at home is rewarding and delicious. Get started now!

Related To:

Homemade Ice Cream with Creamy Decote Cheese

Giada's Ricotta and Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cones.

Giada's Ricotta and Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cones.

The  Basics

The percent of milk fat, or cream, used in an ice cream influences the flavor and texture — too little cream (less than 10 percent) and it's not even considered ice cream while too much will make the ice cream overly rich and heavy. Good balance is key, as you want a creamy texture but you don't want to overwhelm the other flavors.

Ice Cream: There are two main styles of ice cream: French custard ice cream, which includes egg yolks cooked with the cream mixture, and the eggless Philadelphia-style ice cream. 

Sorbet vs. Sherbet: Both are usually made with fruit as the main flavoring, but sorbet is made with sugar, water and fruit while sherbet is made with milk and cream (although with a lower percentage of fat than regular ice cream).

Gelato: This intensely flavored Italian treat can be made with or without cream but, with the focus on natural flavors, it usually has less fat and sugar than regular ice cream. 

Ice Cream Machines

The smoothness of ice cream depends on the size of the ice crystals — this is why an ice cream machine is necessary. Its basic function is to turn the cream mixture and break up the ice crystals as the cream is freezing.

There are three styles of ice cream machines, each with a different freezing method: 1) rock salt and ice, 2) pre-frozen inserts and 3) built-in freezers.

Ice and Rock Salt Machines: The cream mixture is put into the inner container and ice and rock salt are layered around the outside (salt lowers the freezing temperature of the ice, making it colder). Then the mixture is churned by a motor or by hand. These traditional machines can make large batches of smooth-textured ice cream, but they do require some effort.

Pre-Frozen Insert Machines: The most economical and accessible machines, the main drawback is that you need to plan ahead — the insert needs to be pre-frozen for 12 to 24 hours.

Built-In Freezer Machines: Easy to use, you just pour the cream mixture into the machine, press a button and wait for your freshly churned ice cream. But, they're the most expensive type of ice cream machine and can also be quite large.

Recipes to try:

Chuck's Banana Mascarpone Ice Cream, (for Guerilla Ice Cream Sandwiches)
Fresh Coconut Ice Cream
Chicory Coffee Ice Cream
Basil Ice Cream
Malted Vanilla Ice Cream
Grilled Plantains with Cinnamon Ice Cream
Ricotta and Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cones
Creme Fraiche Ice Cream with Pink Peppercorns and Lemon Thyme
Margarita Ice Cream
Fresh Lemon and Lavender Ice Cream
Fresh Fig Gelato

Ice Cream Extras:
Chuck's Ice Cream Cones
Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Sundae
Sticky Toffee Sauce

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