Here’s the Scoop!
Impress your friends and family this summer with homemade ice cream. It’s easier than you think!
“Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone.”
Last summer I discovered how fun and easy it is to make ice cream. I started simply with a strawberry sorbet, blending fresh local strawberries with sugar and water, and popping the mixture into my new ice cream maker. From there I stepped it up a notch – strawberry sorbet with wild mint, then strawberry wine sorbet. As the summer went on, I turned to creamier inventions. I made apple streusel ice cream with toasted pecans, peach and jalapeno ice cream with Niagara peaches, and honey lavender ice cream with edible lavender from my garden. I was on a roll.
Choosing an ice cream maker was relatively straightforward. They essentially all work on the same principle – simultaneously freezing and churning the mixture. This aerates the ice cream as it freezes, and prevents the formation of ice crystals. You want to end up with something scoopable, rather than just a big chunk of flavoured ice.
One common complaint is that homemade ice cream doesn’t stay as soft in the freezer as the store-bought kind. Commercial ice cream manufacturers use a variety of techniques – high-powered churners, and various chemical additives and stabilizers – to keep their ice cream smooth. But don’t worry. Here are a few simple things you can do to improve the “scoopability” of your homemade frozen treat:
- Add a touch of alcohol to your sorbet or ice cream just prior to churning it. The alcohol will not freeze, so your finished batch will be a bit softer. About one ounce of 40 per cent alcohol (vodka, rum or liqueurs) to one litre of ice cream will do the trick. Don’t add more, or the mix may not freeze at all. Keep in mind that alcohol does not freeze out, so these batches will be not suitable for children or anyone avoiding alcohol.
- Fat does not freeze very well, so your ice cream will be smoother if you substitute some of the milk with cream. High-fat ingredients such as egg yolks or avocado will also increase the fat content.
- The faster your mixture freezes while being churned, the less chance of ice crystals forming. So be sure to chill it in the freezer for an hour prior to churning. The ice cream maker tub should also be as cold as possible. Most manufacturers recommend keeping the tub in the freezer for 24 hours before using. I simply store mine in the freezer so it’s always ready to use.
- Last and simplest of all, let your ice cream soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.
“Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.”
Adam Ryan, executive chef at One99 in Orangeville, regularly makes ice creams for the restaurant menu. He starts with his basic recipe, which uses local honey, and then adds local ingredients and flavours. Here are two of his favourite: Hockley Valley Coffee Ice Cream and Raspberry Beet.