Making Ice Cream at Home

Hi All. Not sure there is interest in this topic, but you are collectively so knowledgeable on so many food topics this seems to be the place to start. (Flattery will get you everywhere, I was taught). Wine and ice cream are not classic companions so I won’t be surprised if this is not a great source, but this seems worth a try.

We bought a high-end ice cream maker for Christmas and already have made 3 batches and love it. But there’s a difference between cooking a good steak and a great steak (or smoking a good brisket or a great one) and I’m sure there are techniques/supplies to ice cream/gelato/sorbet making that distinguish the hacks from the experts.

I haven’t been able to find ice cream sites that are the equivalent of the top BBQ or steak sites that talk about what really makes the difference. Does anyone know who/where the best sites are for this? Alternatively, does anyone here have experience and/or recipes they’d like to share to help accelerate my transition from rookie to expert?

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The only experience I have is with an old school type Rival 4 quart. What type did you get?

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I am a competent home user, by no means an expert, but my biggest improvement came when I used my ingredients as COLD as possible - milk, cream, etc all in the freezer for as long as possible (as close to freezing point as possible) before using.

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Got a Whynter ICM-200LS 2.1 Quart compressor type. Cool the custard (or milk/cream mix) in the fridge for a few hours then process. No other prep required. Seems to be working very well and easy to use. Question will be does it last.

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Thanks Kyle. Good feedback. I haven’t been focused on that so far.

Waiting to see what transpires here. I’ve messed around with things like avocado ice cream to go with gazpacho (and prosciutto crisps). But so far good, maybe very good , rather than great. A negroni sorbet project is stalled.

A book I’ve found quite helpful is “A Perfect Scoop “

One obvious application for home made ice cream is fresh strawberries and cream ice cream when you get those little fresh wild strawberries in.

A good ice-cream does not last :rofl:

Yeah I don’t understand the science here …, you’d think that with an electric ice cream maker that does its own chilling you wouldn’t need to do this, but it seems you do.

I use the quick chill option in my ‘fridge which takes the temp down to -3. A few hours with a couple of stirs and the mix is good to go (quicker than over night etc).

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Good call. My 2 quart recipes have been lasting about 2 nights for my wife and me only. If the kids were still around, it would be over first night.

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Actually, our second batch was strawberry gelato made from strawberries we hand-picked in Wisconsin during the summer and froze quickly. So far, that’s been the best and frankly will be hard to top. Can’t wait to do the same with fresh ones.

Also, thanks for the “Perfect Scoop” recommendation. I’ve seen some of Lebovitz’ stuff previously and know he knows what he’s talking about.

Good luck with the avocado ice cream. Not sure I’m ready for that.

I think the easier and more forgiving recipes (with the exception of the possibility of overcooking the yolks - good to have an instant read thermometer) are the heavier custard style ice cream recipes.

For example, I’ve made this recipe many times for coffee ice cream: Coffee Ice Cream - katecooksthebooks

Serious Eats has a lot of recipes and info on ice cream. 33 Ice Cream Recipes to Chill With This Summer

One helpful thing in terms of texture is to use different sugars (other than normal table sugar, sucrose) to lower the freezing point of the mixture and make it softer. Using some dextrose instead of all sucrose, for example. The importance of sugar in ice cream - Dream Scoops

Where I think it gets harder is if you have interest in making things that aren’t necessarily custard based. Then there are a bunch of different stabilizers you can use. I’ve used guar gum which is very effective at preventing ice crystals but also gives a lot of bite to the ice cream which at high volume can be too much. But if you want to make, for example, a fior di latte gelato, which can’t have egg yolks/etc in it and has low fat, you need something to thicken the mixture / prevent it from being icy. I’m not an expert here. I haven’t come across great resources online for making great gelato the way they do it in Italy.

Thanks Rob. These are the kinds of things I was looking for. I’ve seen recipes that call for special sugars, but have only used basic baking sugar (not superfine) so far. Also seen corn starch recommended for some gelatos. I’m against guar gum, but only out of ignorance and pretending I care only about having “basic” ingredients. May need to re-think that.

This is also starting to feel like smoking a brisket a little bit. In other words, maybe your cream/milk ratios vary, egg yokes or not, more or less sugar, refrigerate a couple hours or overnight, whatever flavorings you want, etc. It may not be perfect, but in the end it will be ice cream/gelato/sorbet and it will never be bad.

Also, thanks for the links. I’ll peruse shortly.

Mike

By the way, I just looked at the coffee ice cream recipe. 10 egg yolks!! That seems almost double any other recipe I’ve seen so far. Do you actually use that many and does it taste too custardy?

You don’t need to use that many yolks, but more yolks should yield a smoother consistency all else equal. As you suggested in your other message, all of these things are kind of formulas you can tinker with. The more fat, the more sugar, and the more yolks/stabilizer you put in, the less ice crystal formulation / the smoother the product will be, but obviously at some point it’s too much. Too much fat for example and you obscure the flavor of the ice cream.

I dont think the 10 yolks in that recipe are that extreme. It’s calling for 4 qts of milk + cream whereas many recipes you see might be a smaller batch. Also, at a 50/50 blend of milk and heavy cream, the fat is a bit on the low side (vs. some american style ice cream recipes where I see some showing 2 units of heavy cream to 1 of milk) and so you may need more yolks to compensate in order to keep the texture smooth.

On the cornstarch in gelato thing - I’ve never been happy with the flavor of a gelato I made with cornstarch, so I gave up on it, but possible it’s me or my technique. Guar gum on the other hand is flavorless although as I said too much of it (and a little goes a long way) produces an unnatural texture.

One thing I’d mention is that when you are tasting the ice cream base, it should generally come across as a tad bit too sweet, too concentrated in flavor, etc. When it’s frozen, all the flavors and perception of sweetness will be lower than it is in a warm or even cold ice cream base.

Another good guideline is a bit of salt is helpful in pretty much every recipe.

If you like chocolate, this is a fun (and very different) kind of recipe btw, that I think is better than ice cream IF you love chocolate: Best Chocolate Sorbet Recipe - How to Make Chocolate Sorbet

Thanks again, Rob. I’ll give it a go. Coffee and mint chocolate chip are my next priorities. Probably do one tomorrow (have some chocolate gelato to finish tonight). I’ll try the sorbet soon. I’ve read about salt several places, too and keep forgetting to add it. Next time for sure.

Corn starch just feels wrong. Glad to hear it doesn’t taste good either. Out.

Any thoughts on brands or sources of cream/milk? Or are they all the same?

I think it’s unlikely you will taste the difference in type of milk/cream in recipes that are highly flavored, but it’s more important in the rare recipes where there isn’t much flavor component (fior di latte gelato again something where this is more delicate). I do think flavor wise heavy cream that’s pasteurized rather than ultra pasteurized should be better if you can find it. Most is ultra pasteurized. The best brand available is probably going to be local so I think it’s hard to recommend one.

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We’ve been using the Jeni’s ice cream base for a couple of years and have been happy

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 1⁄4 cups heavy cream
  • 2⁄3 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp. cream cheese, softened
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Wow. Cream cheese! Now that’s pretty radical. Haven’t seen that anywhere. Have to give it a try. Thanks.

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Agree with Perfect Scoop. It has a lot of different styles, identifies key variables, and generally is good advice.

One of the keys to success is starting with a base recipe and then tweaking and adding complexity to that base over time. Even starting with chocolate or vanilla and getting that dialed down is a good starting point.

Thanks David and I concur with getting the basics nailed down. My first batch was a standard vanilla. It was excellent, but frankly I think it was too rich for me to eat on a regular basis. Next time maybe fewer yolks or less cream/more milk. Similarly with my first chocolate. Think I had too much cocoa powder (for my taste), even though I added slightly less than the recipe called for.

My wife has said she will get Perfect Scoop for my birthday (in a couple weeks), so making progress already.