Summer! Visions of cold things go through my head in this heat and humidity: popsicles, salads, watermelon, lemonade, ice cream….I scream, you scream, we all really do scream for ice cream.
Back in the home days, Sunday afternoons were the time of sitting on the porch, watching our neighbors slowly walking past or sometimes, we’d be the ones walking. On the front porch in one of the big ol’ porch rockers – back and forth, back and forth. The occasional sweet trill of a cardinal, smell of flowers heavy in the air, desultory conversation, head droops, snaps back up, droops again…down for the count. Out like a light but then….
Sounds coming through the house: the ice cream churn being hauled out, milk and cream being beaten together, Papa backing the car out to go to Durham Ice Company to purchase a big bag of ice for ice cream.
During fruit season, strawberry and peach were the hands down favorite. No argument from anyone. Vanilla was perfectly acceptable as well and sometimes, crushed pineapple and juice would be added along with freshly grated coconut and coconut milk. The churn would be filled and carefully placed in the tub. The lid with the paddle (dasher) would be inserted and the lid put on. Then the churner would be fitted over top and latched down. Now comes the science magic part: crushed ice in a small layer, a good sprinkling of ice cream salt, another layer of ice and on up to the top. The last layer would just be ice to keep any salt from sneaking into the tub. Now the churning. The crank would be cranked and soon, ice would form inside the tub. You could tell because it would not move as quickly. Slower turning now. harder to turn – tip slightly so water could be poured from the water hole and then carefully tipped back. More ice, more salt. We’d all take turns with the turning but at some point, it would get so hard to turn, Papa or Grandpa had to do it. Finally, they’d grunt and say, that’s it. Clean ice would be placed to cover and a towel draped over all. The hard part: letting it rest and continue to harden for about 20 more minutes.
Now?…Now??…WHEN??????? and the magic moment. Towel taken off, parts removed and carefully, the lid lifted off. it was always magical to look and see the tub full of ice cream – thick and rich and fragrant with vanilla, fruit, lemon, lime…A special large, long handled spoon was used to dip out the ice cream into eagerly proffered bowls. Then the ritual settling about in the rockers, porch swing, porch steps. Sometimes a next door family would be invited or a couple of passersby. My aunts and I used to quarrel over who got the dash to lick and scrape clean. My great grandfather would settle the argument by taking it for himself. As an adult, when I purchased my first ice cream churn, I took the dash for myself.
Some things to know about home made ice cream: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Let the ice cream mixture thoroughly chill in the fridge for 2 – 4 hours. Acids added to the milk/cream (strawberries, lemon juice, lime juice) will cause it to naturally thicken. Because homemade ice cream does not have the stabilizers, artificial additives, of store ice cream, it will get hard in your freezer and maybe get icy. My advice is: eat it all up!!!! The higher the fat content, the softer it may be. More cream than milk might just get you a fluffy, buttery textured ice cream. Use fruits in season for best taste. Frozen fruits can be used. If using a low acid fruit like peaches or bananas, add some lemon or lime juice for that thickening effect.
WARNING: Homemade ice cream will ruin you for store bought. Homemade gelatos, sherbets, Italian ices, ice milk, ice cream are all able to be made in the home ice cream churn. Good ones can be bought for not as much money as you think. I’ve included recipes for Key Lime Ice Cream and for Peach Ice Cream. Use your imagination. But always let chill and taste to adjust for flavor. If using an ice cream maker that that has the opening to add ingredients, save some of your pureed fruit to add at the last for a different texture and layer of flavor. Some ice creams have a custard base. I do not use a custard base for my ice cream. If I do, then I am making frozen custard, not ice cream.
Key Lime Ice Cream (or Lemon)
2 c. sugar
½ cup lime juice (or lemon)
Zest of one/two limes – 2 tbs. worth
4 cups buttermilk (can use fat free)
Stir sugar, lemon juice and peel in medium bowl. Add buttermilk; stir until sugar dissolves. Chill until cold, about 4 hours. Process mixture in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to container with lid; freeze. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Keep frozen.)
Peach Ice Cream
3 cups fresh ripe peaches, peeled and crushed
Reserve 1/2 cup peaches
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-1/2 cup sugar, divided
1-1/4 cups whole milk
2-3/4 cups heavy cream
1-1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
In a small bowl, combine the peaches with the lemon juice and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Stir gently and allow the strawberries to macerate in the juices for 1/2 hour. In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the milk and remaining granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, mashed peaches, and vanilla. Put the mixture into fridge and let chill for 2-4 hours. Stir and taste. Adjust flavors if necessary. Pour into freezer bowl and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Five minutes before mixing is completed, add the reserved peaches and let mix in completely. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.