Need an excuse to gather the clan or the neighborhood? How about an old-fashioned Ice Cream Social. Dolly Madison is probably among the first Americans to serve ice cream when she delighted her 1809 White House guests with ice cream as the Grande Finale to her formal dinner. Ice cream cones didn’t appear on the American scene until 1904 at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St. Louis. Today? The U. S. leads all other countries in the production and consumption of ice cream. And our favorite flavor? Vanilla, of course. What better excuse to step off the daily treadmill and just chat and relax while you and your guests wait for a freezer of ice cream to be ready? You can make and freeze the ice cream ahead or churn it on the spot (always impressive). Our recommendation? Serve a variety of ice cream flavors and plate up several varieties of your favorite cookies or cakes (or have your guests bring their favorites) and you have a PARTY. There are dozens and dozens of recipes out there for home-made ice cream in every flavor imaginable. The recipes included here have been selected simply because they are Grandma’s favorites, are simple to make, and almost always turn out beautifully.
What You Need
- An old-fashioned ice cream freezer (churn).
- If you don’t have one, scout around among your potential guests. Freezers can also be purchased at most kitchen specialty stores or big-box outlets.
- Freezers are available in 4- or 6-quart, even 1-quart sizes. There is also a freezer on the market that doesn’t require ice. These usually only make a small batch and are fairly expensive. Choose the type and size that fits your family.
- Most freezers are electric, but it’s still possible to find a hand-crank – and what fun – everyone can get in on the action with a crank or ten.
- Ice – and lots of it. Plan on a couple of sacks per batch; and if you decide to make the ice cream ahead and pack it until serving time, double the amount of ice and salt.
- Ice-cream salt. Morton’s sells Ice Cream Salt in a 4-pound package which is about right for a freezer of ice cream. The recommended ratio of ice to salt is 8-parts ice to 1-part salt.
- A place to make the ice cream. Freezing ice cream can be sloppy, so you’ll want to place the freezer in a sink or make the ice cream outside on the sidewalk or drive-way (even better and more impressive), but place the freezer on a piece of cardboard or plastic to protect the surface.
- Pour the chilled ice cream mixture (see recipe below) into the freezer can, filling it no more than 2/3 to 3/4 full to leave room for expansion as the ice cream freezes.
- Insert the dasher into the can, fasten the lid on the can, fit the can into the freezer, and attach the motor, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Add several layers of crushed ice and rock salt around the can (make sure the ice pieces aren’t too large or they will inhibit the turning of the can in the freezer and/or stall the motor).
- Turn on the freezer and allow the can to run slowly until the ice melts enough to form a brine. Add more ice and salt at this point to maintain the ice level.
- Continue running the motor until it slows or stalls – usually about 20-30 minutes (see the manufacturer’s instructions).
- At this point, you can serve the ice cream (no better time) or “ripen” (harden) it in one of two ways.
- Repack the freezer. Carefully remove the lid and the dasher, making sure none of the salty water seeps into the ice cream. Dump out the salt and ice and place the can back in the freezer. Repack the freezer with fresh ice and salt (about 4 to 1 this time), wrap the entire freezer in newspaper and/or a heavy blanket and let it ripen for about 4 hours.
- Put the ice cream in the home freezer. Transfer the ice cream to a tightly lidded container and freeze for 3-4 hours before serving. Transfer the ice cream to the refrigerator for a few minutes before you are ready to serve it or it will be too hard to scoop.
Favorite Ice Cream Recipes
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 4 cups heavy cream (40% best)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla
- Warm milk slightly and stir in sugar to dissolve the sugar.
- Pour milk mixture and remaining ingredients into a large bowl and whisk or whip to combine thoroughly.
- Chill for 30 minutes or more, then pour mixture into the freezer cannister and process and rippen according the manufacturer's directions. Or see General Instructions above.
Rocky Road Variation
- Add 1/2 cup chocolate powder (or to taste) to the sugar. Whisk together thoroughly, add the sugar mixture to the milk and then proceed as above.
- Before chilling the milk/cream mixture, stir in 2-3 cups miniature marshmallows, 1-1/2 cups chocolate chips (mini-chips or shaved chocolate recommended) and 1 cup chopped pecans or other nuts. Proceed with the basic recipe.
Mint Chocolate Chip Variation
- Before chilling the milk/cream mixture, stir in 3 cups mini-chocolate chips, 4 drops green food coloring, and 1-1/2 tsp mint extract.
- Proceed with the Basic recipe.
Raspberry Parfait Variation
- Place 4 cups (or more) raspberries in a blender and puree.
- Press the puree through a sieve to remove some of the seeds (optional).
- Before chilling the milk/cream mixture, stir in the raspberry puree, several drops of pink/red food coloring, and 1-1/2 tsp raspberry extract.
- Proceed with the Basic recipe.
Note: Sorbet is made without milk so it is a good alternative for those who are dairy intolerant.
- 6 cups fresh fruit
- ½ cup sugar (or to taste depending on sweetness of fruit)
- ¼ cup lemon juice (fresh best)
- Combine fruit and sugar and let rest for several minutes to release juices.
- Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
- Press the puree through a sieve to remove any remaining solids.
- Chill for 30 minutes or more, pour puree into the freezer can and process according the manufacturer's directions. See General Instructions above.
- When frozen, transfer to a tightly lidded container and freeze for 3-4 hours before serving.