Sunday, September 12, 2010

Home Made Ice Cream: The Agony and the Ecstasy

The plan to make my own ice cream started a while ago. I’m not sure exactly when, a year at least. I planned and plotted this out for a while.

I don’t know why I always want to try to make everything myself. It’s a compulsion that started in childhood, when I would carefully sew pillows for my dolls and trim them with my stringy, awkwardly crocheted lace (Usually blackened by my dirty fingers by the time it was ready to be attached.

I guess it comes from the feeling of connection I have with things I’ve made, I talked about this a bit in my post about hand-made gifts. Also, the sense of pride I get from having produced something tangible. Either way, as ice cream and making things are my two favourite things, it was inevitable that I’d try my hand at ice cream making.

I ordered David Liebowitz’s book, “The Perfect Scoop” from Amazon a few months ago. The fuss the food blog community made over this book was more than recommendation enough. It seemed that even looking at another ice-cream recipe was tantamount to heresy. Over the following weeks I’d pick up the good book, casually flip through the pages, admire the bright photos, marvel at the exotic recipe names.

Then came The Big Move. Obviously all thoughts of making anything were pushed aside (although I did eat a shocking amount of store bought ice cream in this time). On one expedition to Wal-Mart for house things, I did find a Hamilton Beach ice cream maker on sale for $35. Not the fanciest model, by any means, but the price was right. It was actually one of the first things moved into the new house, as I laid it on a shelf when I walked in and there it sat for over a month.

After the move was the trip, and then there were guests. And then I didn’t want to do much of anything for a while. Finally Boyfriend returned and settled in. Last week was Labour Day, and the time was finally right.

Saturday over dinner we decided that we were really going to do it this time. Knowing that the canister needed to freeze for 24 hours, I popped it into the freezer, and we were on our way! Sunday, we bought the ingredients for chocolate ice cream (of course we were starting with chocolate, do you even know us?). This meant going to the grocery store and buying a 2L of 2% milk (we needed that anyway) 1L of whole milk, and a half litre of cream. Fortunately I’m immune to strange looks from my cashier at the grocery store.

Back home, I set about the recipe, with Boyfriend near by for amusement and support. It was an awfully fussy recipe. Heat this, chill that, strain, use every bowl in the house, etc. I got a bit frustrated here and there, but my frequent tastings assured me that I was making something delicious. Finally ready, we double checked the instructions and saw that the batter also had to chill for 24 hours. Darn. Into the fridge it went, and we waited another day.

Holy cow, I forgot to mention that we got a baby kitten during this time! His name is Stringer Bell and he’s 8 weeks old. He’s the cutest thing in the history of cute things, but isn’t allowed to have ice cream and so is unrelated to this blog post.

Monday night finally came. Our long weekend over, back to work and school the following day, it was at last time to make ice cream. I put together the machine, poured in the mixture (spilling a lot of it down the stove and onto the floor in the process) and waited. And waited. And waited. Our mixture did not become ice cream. It did not look like it would become ice cream. This was pretty disappointing.

We decided to save the mixture and try again tomorrow. As we poured it from the machine into a container we realized, we had way too much of it. The instructions for the machine had cautioned against using more than a litre, but as the recipe claimed to produce a litre we hadn’t thought much of it. As it happened, if you include what had spilled, we had nearly 2. We put the batter back in the fridge, washed the canister and put it back in the freezer, and waited another day.

After work on Tuesday, we made one last try. This time we only put in a half litre and, with fingers crossed, tried again. It took a little longer than the instructions said, and had a consistency more like melty soft serve, but it was ice cream! And it was the most delicious ice cream I have ever tasted. I’m not exaggerating, and I have eaten an awful lot of ice cream. It was so rich, but just shy of too rich, so creamy, so …. Perfect! It was unreal. It was worth it.

We made the rest of the batch the next day, with the same results. We wound up with about 1.5L all together (not including that which was spilled) and after a night in the freezer it had the consistency of regular ice cream.

I figure that this ice cream cost $4-$5 for ingredients. I can get ice cream for that much or maybe cheaper if I watch for sales. But not the brands I like. Premium ice cream costs more, Breyer's runs $6.99-$8.49 for 1.5L, Moo Moo's (local) is $15 per 1.5L, and Hagan-Daaz is a staggering $21. I think the taste of my ice cream ranks up with the higher end, maybe better.

There's obviously a bigger time commitment, but that sort of thing doesn't bother me too much. I like concocting. It's worth it for me. Besides, in time I may be able to streamline the process, I foresee quite a lot of home made ice cream in my future!


  1. I really like your blog, but I'm wondering why there are no pictures??? just askin'

  2. Thanks! There's no pictures because I'm terrible with a camera. I've been thinking lately that some amateur photos would be better than nothing, especially since I now have about 500 of my kitten!

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  4. I have the same weird "I can make that myself!" compulsion! I do it all the time with pretty much all kinds of things, from food to clothes, to candles. But then I have to buy all the 'stuff' to make said things. Eh, oh well. lol

    Sweet blog, btw ;)