27 August 2010
Homemade Ice Cream - Through the Generations
Homemade Ice Cream - Past and Present
Nothing pulls a thread through summers past and present quite like homemade ice cream. I have fond memories of taking turns providing the muscle for my aunt’s hand-cranked ice cream freezer when I was a child. The homemade ice cream it made was cool and soothing on a sweltering summer evening. It was a seasonal indulgence we always looked forward to.
Years later when my children were young I bought an ice cream freezer of my own. It was smaller than the one I remembered from my childhood and it had an electric motor on top that turned the canister. No more hand cranking was needed. We just put the ingredients in the canister, filled the tub with layers of ice and salt, plugged it in….. and waited.
The ice cream it made tasted as delicious as the homemade ice cream I remembered. Even though it lacked the same sense of shared accomplishment it did invite fond recollections of family gatherings. It also produced that same memorable homemade taste and texture that was still particularly welcome after a casual summer supper.
Another decade or so down the road and ice cream makers have changed again. Gone is the need for ice and salt. The latest models are relatively small and a breeze to clean up. With our new ice cream maker I simply place the canister in the freezer where it stays ready and waiting to be employed. When we want to make ice cream we put the frozen canister on the base, drop the plastic dasher inside and cover the base with a lid. Then, flip one switch, add the ice cream mixture….and wait for about 30 minutes until the ice cream is ready.
Plain Old Vanilla
My family’s favorite flavor for homemade ice cream is still vanilla. I have made a very simple version several times this summer:
3 cups whole milk (or a combination of milk and cream)
½ to ¾ cup sugar (often brown sugar)
1 Tablespoon (or so) vanilla
I stir together the ingredients, pour them into the ice cream maker and let it do its thing.
I love the soft texture of this ice cream when it is scooped straight from the canister into my bowl. It is almost like a milkshake, melting quickly, and when eaten at once it strikes a perfect balance between solid and liquid refreshment. Scooped straight from the canister this soft frozen homemade ice cream melts the years away, if just for a moment, taking me back to those summers of my childhood.
Adding a Simple Stabilizer and an Asian Twist
The only drawback, if you would call it that, is the need to eat the whole canister at one sitting. Leftovers tend to get icy and the texture is not as enjoyable the second time around. That’s why a recipe for Tea Ice Milk, that I stumbled over at Culinate, grabbed my attention. I love the relatively low fat content, few ingredients and ease of preparation in making Homemade Ice Cream or Ice Milk but I had no idea how to stabalize this homemade treat so that the texture would remain appealing after being stored in the freezer for a time. This recipe includes a relatively simple solution.
In this recipe the milk mixture is first scalded, so that it is warm enough to steep the tea leaves as well as fully dissolve the sugar. While the mixture is warm a spoonful of softened gelatin is stirred into the mixture. The gelatin acts as a stabilizer and allows the ice milk to freeze extra firm in the ice cream maker and then to maintain a creamier texture after spending time in the kitchen freezer.
I adapted the recipe slightly, reducing the sweetness and boosting the tea flavor a little. The result was a very mild green tea taste that works beautifully as a finale to a light summer stir fry or other Asian inspired meal. I can’t wait to try this recipe with other varieties of tea for an English or Chai Tea twist. I am also looking forward to using the gelatin in my simple Vanilla Ice Cream recipe, at least for those occasions when we don’t plan to eat the whole canister at one sitting.
Green Tea Ice Milk
adapted from a recipe at Culinate.com
3 cups whole milk
½ cup sugar
2 Tablespoons loose green tea
1 teaspoon powdered gelatin
1 Tablespoon cold water
In a small saucepan, heat the milk and sugar to scalding, stirring occasionally.
Remove mixture from the heat and stir in the loose tea leaves. Cover and allow the tea leaves to steep for 3-5 minutes. Strain the mixture into a bowl and discard the tea leaves.
In a small dish stir together the gelatin and cold water. Allow the gelatin to bloom, about 5 minutes.
Stir the gelatin into the warm tea mixture until fully dissolved. Place the mixture in the refrigerator until cold.
Pour the mixture into the canister of an ice cream freezer and follow the manufacturers directions.