There aren’t many universal truths in this world, but the power of ice cream to brighten even the murkiest of moods surely ranks amongst them. Considering just how popular the food is, and how simple it is to make, it is surprising that so few of us ever think about actually doing it. Not only is ice cream delicious and beautifully simple to produce, but once you have the basics down, there is endless room for customising and refining your recipe. A few years ago Rebecca asked for a children’s “toy” ice cream maker for Christmas. Instead I bought her a real one as I knew we’d get more use out of it.
Homemade ice cream is a very different beast from the kind that you’ll find in the supermarket freezer, or served from the back of an ice cream van. With homemade ice cream you have control over every aspect of the texture and flavour, as well as the ingredients that go in to making the final product. You can augment it however you see fit, and by experimenting with different flavourings and ingredients you can make something that is truly unique.
What follows is a brief guide to some of the things that you can do to make your homemade ice cream really stand out:
Source the Best Ingredients
Your ice cream will only ever be as good as the ingredients that you use to make it. If you can afford to do so then you should aim to use organic and free-range eggs and milk as these will give the final product a much more well-rounded flavour. We make vegan dairy free ice cream by using organic coconut milk and organic bananas. Similarly, if you’re planning on experimenting by adding essences such as vanilla or chocolate then make sure that you get the best you can. It will be worth the extra couple of quid!
Don’t Sweat the Calories
While there are some really excellent recipes for making low fat ice cream and other variations aimed at those who are on a particular diet, for most of us ice cream is, and should be, an indulgence. This isn’t the time to be obsessively counting calories! The high fat content is necessary for a reason, it allows the ice cream to have a creamy texture and will avoid it becoming gritty or icy when it’s frozen.
Once you have refined your recipe you can then begin experimenting with low fat options. This isn’t a good place to start as it is hard to achieve the right texture without using fatty products.
Start the Motor First
We learnt the hard way but this is especially important when using an ice cream maker alongside a freezer bowl. Make sure that you turn the motor on before you start pouring in the ice cream base. Not all ice cream makers utilise a freezer bowl but if yours does then also ensure that you freeze it for at least 24 hours before using it. The reason that you want to turn the motor on first is that the freezer bowl will cause the mixture to freeze on contact, having the motor running will ensure that there is sufficient motion to prevent the ice cream freezing on to the bowl.
The key to making great ice cream is practice. Keep experimenting in order to find what works best for you.
Do you make homemade ice cream? What flavour recipes do you enjoy the most?