Well, we went ahead and did it! A couple months ago, inspired by a few friends of ours, Doug and I bought an electric ice cream maker (this model). I had never thought of really making ice cream at home before, but ever since I started demonstrating this very machine at work–I realized how easy it is! Home-made ice cream is a great option for those who like to experiment. Overall, as long as you add enough heavy cream or half and half, plus lots of sugar, the sky is the limit when it comes to adding flavors and mix-ins.
Our first foray into ice cream making was a standard strawberry recipe from the booklet that came with the machine. However, I tweaked it a bit:
Instead of mashing the strawberries, I pulsed them in the food processor so that the juices were released but there were plainly still small strawberry pieces–the strawberry pieces froze wonderfully and add a sort of satisfying crunchy texture to contrast with the smoothness of the rest of the ice cream. Also, we subbed in a tablespoon of hot chocolate mix where it called for vanilla extract (since we were out of vanilla). With this particular batch, we froze it overnight, which gave it a harder consistency. I preferred that to straight out of the machine. Other varieties taste awesome straight from the machine–a little more like soft-serve.
One thing I noticed about making our own ice cream is this: it really encourages a person to eat less. I mean, pouring in two cups of heavy whipping cream really makes it hit home–this stuff is not healthy! The process reminded me of an article I read about cooking vs. purchasing processed food. The quote that came to mind was–
“Special occasion foods become every day foods when we let industry cook for us.” (One example Pollan gives is french fries or chips. They taste great when you cook them yourself, but the process is highly labour intensive(washing, peeling, cutting, pan, oil, splattering, oil, washing up etc) so left to our own devices we might eat them only every month or so as a treat, but many Americans now eat two batches of french fries a day because they have become so convenient.) … The diet that would work for everybody is: eat anything you like, just cook it yourself.
Does that make sense? Since I know exactly what is in my ice cream, I can enjoy the delicious, indulgent fruits of my labor, but the size of the scoop I serve myself will definitely be smaller than a scoop that Ben & Jerry’s would serve me!
Either way… I plan on making lots of yummy ice cream at home for the last few weeks of summer, and well into fall. Can anyone say pumpkin chai ice cream??