With all due respect to Ben and Jerry, not to mention the charming folks who hand out samples at our neighborhood ice cream shop, there’s something novel and satisfying about making your own ice cream.
A lot of people make this frozen dessert in the summertime. When I was growing up, we had an old fashioned, hand-crank ice cream maker. I can still see my dad alternately packing the revolving cylinder with rock salt and ice.
My strongest recollection though is when the salt somehow worked its way into the sweet ice cream. It was a flavorful experience on its own. To this day I still like a little salt with my sweet.
The Friends of the Riverview Branch Library recently sponsored a How to Make Ice Cream workshop taught by local naturalist Diana Kyle. I was excited to walk into the classroom and see an old-time wooden, crank-style freezer sitting on the floor. I knew we were in for a cranking good time.
First, the churn.
For hard-core purists, hand-crank churning machines are still available. Diana suggested looking at your local feed store but, as with anything else these days, you can probably find one online.
When it comes to making the ice cream, don’t fill the freezer container more than three-fourths full of ice cream mixture to allow for expansion. Be sure to have a back-up of twice as much ice as the bucket will hold to replace ice that melts during the churning process.
At first, cranking by hand is easy.
Once turning the crank becomes a real burden, after about 45 minutes, the mixture is reaching its proper consistency. This is the time to add fruit chunks, chocolate chips or any other ingredients you want to be evenly mixed throughout the ice cream.
For our demonstration Diana used a depression-era ice milk recipe – a magical blend of milk, sugar, flavoring, Junket and eggs. If you’re concerned about using raw eggs, you can use an egg substitute product instead.
And Junket? My mom had Junket, also known as rennet tablets, stored alongside the Jell-O and tapioca in the pantry. It’s used to prevent the formation of large ice crystals and to improve or vary flavor.
She said the hardest part of making the frozen dessert is not to burn the milk. Use a heavy-bottomed pot to heat the milk, which tends to absorb and distribute the heat from a stove-top burner more evenly than a thin pot or pan.
Diana’s seminar had one rule: If you don’t crank, you don’t eat!
So about 25 of us formed a line and took turns cranking, salivating about the treat we knew was ahead.
It was such a simple event, sharing hand-cranked ice cream, but it brought a smile to a lot of faces.
Lynn Kessel is a freelance food columnist and blogger. For more of her recipes, visit southshore.tbo.com and enter the search words Lynn Kessel or look for her blog at www.lynnkessel.blogspot.com.
IDA’S ICE MILK
2 cups sugar
1 can evaporated milk
4 eggs or pasteurized egg product such as Egg Beaters
1 gallon whole milk
2 tablespoons vanilla
4 Junket rennet tablets
4 tablespoons warm water
Dissolve the Junket rennet tablets in the 4 tablespoons of water. Set aside.
Beat sugar, evaporated milk and eggs with a hand-held mixer or whisk. Heat the gallon of milk, dissolved Junket tablets and vanilla in a large, heavy pot. Do not boil. Remove one cup of the hot mixture and slowly add to the egg mixture. Stir. Once completely combined, pour the egg mixture into the cream mixture and mix thoroughly.
Let stand 30 minutes then churn.
Yields 6 quarts.