How to Make Ice Cream: Tips for Beginners

Learning how to make ice cream is certainly not rocket science, but if this is your first venture into the world of homemade ice cream, you will need a few basics to get you started.

At one point in my life, I made homemade ice cream so often, I had the recipes memorized! (This gave me ample opportunities for doing everything wrong...)

Now that I'm all too painfully aware of the calorie count for food, I don't make it as often, but I still remember the valuable lessons from learning how to make ice cream many years ago &mdash lessons learned the hard way.

Hopefully, you can benefit from the tongue-in-cheek advice below before you start making ice cream!

Electric ice cream freezer

First, you'll need a freezer. There are quite a few varieties, from small countertop models that make only enough for 1-4 servings, to the larger, traditional models that make from two to six quarts. These larger models can be found in electric and hand-crank versions.

Unless you have half a dozen eager beavers with bulging arm and shoulder muscles...I strongly recommend the electric models.

Next, you'll want to have on hand 10-20 pounds of ice broken into small chunks, and a box of ice cream (rock) salt.

Tip #1

Plan ahead! Since most ice cream recipes call for heating the mixture to incorporate sugar and eggs, etc., you'll want to be sure to do this well BEFORE you plan to make the ice cream, so that you can thoroughly chill it before putting it in the ice cream freezer.

And, if you're pressed for time and want to skip this step and start freezing your still-warm mixture? Well, be prepared to use a LOT of ice, and wait a LONG time for the mixture to freeze...don't ask me how I know.

Tip #2

Fruit in food processor

How to make ice cream with fruit: If you're adding fruit to your ice cream, puree it first! I know it's great to think how lovely those fresh peach or strawberry slices, or blueberries will appear in your finished product...but, they will end up hard as a brick, and you'll be going in for dental work after trying to eat it.

I live in an area known for blueberries, and so many people (including myself twenty years ago) make this mistake the first time they make blueberry ice cream that we have a knickname for it &mdash BB ice cream &mdash because the frozen blueberries are as hard as BB's!

The pureed fruit also adds much more flavor than simple fruit chunks.

Tip #3

Order of operations: (1) Set the canister in the freezer container. (2) Put the dasher in (important before pouring only if you have fruit or other "chunky" additions to your ice cream.) (3) Pour the mixture into the canister. (Usually helpful to have someone hold it straight and keep the dasher in place while you pour.) (4) Put the lid on the canister. (5) Hook the motor to the top of the canister and freezer container. (6) TURN ON the freezer so that it starts rotating. (7) Begin adding alternating layers of 2-3 inches of ice and salt until just below the canister lid. Continuing refilling ice and salt as it melts down. (8) When freezer stops by itself, the ice cream is ready.

Tip #4

Adding salt to ice in ice cream freezer

No, the ice cream salt is NOT optional. You must have it for the ice cream to freeze. The salt lowers the temperature of the melting ice to below 32 ° F, which is necessary for the mixture to freeze. The recommended ratio of salt to ice is 1 to 5 (for every 5 cups of ice, use 1 cup of salt).
Tip #5

Do NOT fill the ice/salt mixture up above the bottom of the lid unless you happen to like very salty, watery ice cream. That's right...don't ask!

Adding ice to ice cream freezer

Tip #6

Be sure your ice is broken into chunks small enough to fit between the canister and freezer wall BEFORE you start.
Tip #7

On ripening: Many instructions will tell you to place the canister in your freezer for a few hours when finished so that the ice cream will harden.

Do this only if you want to be tempted by the sight and smell of your ice cream that you absolutely CAN NOT get out of the metal container without a jackhammer...or by thawing it, which kind of defeats the purpose of hardening it in the first place, doesn't it?

Tip #8

How to make ice cream that's firm, but not hard as a rock: If you want the ice cream firmer than what it will be when the freezer stops, first find a Doberman Pinscher or Rottweiler to guard it, because, I promise you &mdash some family member or friend will "like it soft" and you'll come back to your ice cream in 30 minutes only to find there's nothing left!

Removing dasher from ice cream freezer

Once you have your security system in place, REMOVE the dasher, so that it doesn't become a permanent nuisance in your quest to dip into your hardened ice cream. (You may want to offer the ice cream-covered dasher to the "softies" to help hold them off until you say the ice cream is ready.)

Ice cream freezer with towel

Then, replace the lid and put the cork in the top. Replace any ice/salt that has melted, and cover the top of the freezer with one or two folded towels to help insulate it. Check the ice cream every 15-20 minutes until your preferred consistency is reached.
Tip #9

Storing leftovers: We have five teenagers &mdash what is a "leftover"?!

No, seriously, your ice cream will become brick-hard after you put it in the freezer, and will never taste like it did when it was fresh. I've heard that if you let it partially melt and then hit it with the electric mixer, it will be almost, but not quite, as good as when you made it.

If you only have a little left, I would recommend freezing it in single serving sizes in ziploc bags.

I don't really expect to ever have an opportunity to try these two tips, but I hope they work for you.

Tip #10

How to make ice cream that doesn't overflow the canister: respect the fill line! Most ice cream canisters have a line and wording on the inside that indicates the maximum fill level. As your ice cream mixture freezes, it will expand quite a bit. So, even though that fill line may look like it's WAY down there, and you can easily add a little more &mdash DON'T!

Bowl of goat milk ice cream

Now that you have all the insider tips on how to make ice cream, the sooner you go get one of those goat milk homemade ice cream recipes, the sooner you can be enjoying it!

Articles are updated frequently, so check back here for any new tips on how to make ice cream!

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