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Making Homemade Ice Cream

Posted By Suzanne McMinn On April 12, 2011 @ 1:05 am In Desserts,The Farmhouse Table | 39 Comments

I’ve wanted an ice cream maker ever since we got Beulah Petunia. I have a lot of milk. I should be making ice cream! And last week–I got one! A reader here, MJ Peters, sent me an ice cream maker. She didn’t even know it was going to be my birthday, but it felt like a birthday present when I used it for the first time yesterday to make ice cream to go with my birthday cake.


It’s a “vintage” (sorta) ice cream maker, made by Sears and Roebuck in the 70s. Happily, it’s an electric ice cream maker. Hand-churning ice cream might be fun once, but if I’m going to make my own ice cream on a regular basis, electric will be real handy. I didn’t grow up with homemade ice cream. I can’t remember ever even seeing someone use an ice cream maker, so the whole process was unfamiliar to me. The ice cream maker looked quite complicated, though, of course, it’s not.

The original instruction/recipe booklet came with the ice cream maker. It was a little hard to decipher as the instructions were broken up in various locations all over the booklet. Right in the middle of telling you how to do this or that, it tells you that the rest (!) of this explanation is on page xyz, so it’s sort of like a treasure hunt to put the directions together. But the booklet is from the 1970s, and that was before they invented organization.

The really super cute thing in the booklet is the page where they give you a metric conversion chart and state, “While the U.S. is in its decade of transition to metric measurement scales it may be helpful to provide the following liquid measure metric conversion chart.” Luckily, the recipes are actually written in English measurements since that whole metric conversion…. Wait, what happened to that?????

I was in elementary school in the 70s, back when this booklet was written. I can remember the teachers hammering at us about the metric system. We had to learn it! By the time we grew up, everything would be metric! Landfills would be piled up with teaspoons and the skies would be black with the smoke of burning yardsticks. You’d have to seek out underground “inch brigades” to find a bootleg ruler. If we didn’t have the metric system memorized backwards and forwards, we’d NEVER GET A JOB.

Anyway! The book actually starts with the history of ice cream, which apparently primarily revolved around queens and emperors and Marco Polo, and there’s another whole section on the “science” of freezing, which doesn’t explain why you can use rock salt both to freeze AND melt stuff. How is that possible??? In any case, I did find some rock salt, in of all places, the salt aisle at the grocery store and I was ready!

The book explains (when you put it together in several places and use your imagination) that the basic recipes for chocolate and the vanilla variations are then the basis for all the other ice creams. (Mostly vanilla, and it has several basic vanilla recipe choices.) It gives abbreviated recipes to piggyback onto the basic recipes for all kinds of enticing flavors. Pistachio. Pineapple. Rocky road. Maple Nut. Butter Pecan. Baked Apple. YUM! I see ice cream all summer long. I usually have a lot of fresh fruit, so this is going to be fun. And delicious. And fattening! I expect to need an entire new wardrobe by September! (Then maybe I’ll move on to the diet ice creams. The book also has recipes for sherberts and ices, plus a section on “party creations” such as how to make a clown cone. Hmmm….) But wait, I haven’t even gained any weight yet! Back to ice cream.

I love vanilla bean ice cream, and since I buy vanilla beans in bulk to make vanilla extract, I always have bunches of them, so I started with one of the basic vanilla recipes. Using the French vanilla recipe in the book, I added the scrapings from three vanilla beans. I also used 6 cups of milk instead of the half-and-half. (I wrote the recipe below as it is in the book for that part, though. Do as you will!) I don’t know the quart size of this ice cream maker, but I took the hand-scrawled advice penned by the recipe by some former previous possessor of it and doubled the recipe to 6 cups total on the milk/cream.


How to make French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream:

4 cups milk
6 beaten egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups half-and-half or light cream
scrapings from 3 vanilla beans

Combine milk, egg yolks, salt, and sugar in a double boiler. Cook until the mixture thickens up and coats a spoon. Cool. Add vanilla, cream, and vanilla bean scrapings.

This is a really good use of those leftover egg yolks from making white cake, by the way!

Scraping out the vanilla bean stuff is a little bit of a hassle, but it’s so worth it.

To get to the goods, split open each vanilla bean by cutting it with kitchen scissors. (Or at least that’s how I do it.) Flatten out each half and scrape out the tiny specks of goodness. It will look like you don’t get much from each bean, but those tiny specks go a long way as they disperse.

Three seemed like enough to incorporate specks all through the mixture, so I quit there, but you could use more if you like.

I chilled the mixture for four hours, as directed. Meanwhile, I made my favorite birthday cake, super spice cake. (Very, very deliciously extra spicy.)

Now, to use the ice cream maker…..

This chart made no sense to me, but eventually I figured it out. Unless you have this exact same ice cream maker made by Sears and Roebuck in the 1970s, your ice cream maker (if you have one already or decide to get one) will probably operate mostly the same but slightly different depending on how it’s put together. The basics are the outer barrel, the inner can, a dasher, and a lid. The dasher does the churning.

To make ice cream, you need your ice cream mixture made according to whatever recipe you’re using (filling the can no more than 2/3 full), rock salt, and ice. The rock salt and ice is layered between the inner can and the barrel. Like this:

So I did something like that.

And put the power unit on top. The dasher doesn’t really move. The power unit makes the can go round and round so the dasher churns the ice cream.

And about 25 minutes later, look at that! I made ice cream!

Now, you’re supposed to add more ice and rock salt and let it sit to cure for an hour, or you can transfer it to freezer containers and cure it in the freezer. Or you can eat it right away. I tried a little bit, then put it in the freezer.

The can was less than halfway filled up, so I know that next time I can increase the recipe by probably 50 percent and still not fill it by more than the recommended two-thirds. This recipe made about 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream. Maybe next time I’ll throw in some peaches from last summer that are still in the freezer! I’m in love with the ice cream maker.

But for now–

–it was vanilla ice cream with cake!

(Thank you again, MJ!!)


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