They say that one sign of getting old is remembering the past, so I guess I’m getting old. I’ve been remembering my uncles sitting in the shade of a big old tree on Grandma’s front lawn, taking turns in cranking an old fashioned ice cream maker. I and the rest of the kids would hang around, watching and anticipating…and anticipating. It seemed like it took forever! Maybe that’s part of what makes home made ice cream taste so good.
The water would start to drain out as the ice around the canister holding the ice cream mix melted, and the dasher would turn more and more slowly. The ice cream maker got passed around a little faster then, as the ice cream thickened and the boys began to wear out. Finally, the crank stopped altogether and it was done!
Grandma would bring out bowls and a big ice cream spade and the ice cream maker would be opened. Oh, my! What a glorious sight. There would be creamy, cold and sweet ice cream, laced with strawberries or blackberries or whatever else was growing at the time. We could hardly wait for her to scoop that creamy treat from the barrel.
The sun was hot, the shade was cool, but the ice cream was pure heaven. Memories like this need to be passed down to our own children.
Some of you might remember lawn parties where ladies dressed up in summery, full-skirted dresses and men wore slacks instead of jeans. Home made ice cream was the center of attention. Or a church social where someone brought an ice cream maker. Or one of those “redneck” wedding receptions where homemade ice cream was offered along with the cake.
Whatever your homemade ice cream memories, they need to be passed down in one form or another.
Make Your Own Ice Cream Memories
There are a lot of ice cream recipes that call for varying amounts of milk and cream, but I’ve found that adjusting it to suit your taste or budget doesn’t make much of a difference.
For the creamiest, most expensive (and most calorie-laden) ice cream base, use 2 cups of milk to 6 cups of cream. To lighten things up, Â the use one cup of heavy cream and 7 cups of milk You can even substitute evaporated milk. (Or you can try a ready-made ice cream base your first few times out, if you need to get the hang of making ice cream from scratch.)
Besides the milk and cream, you’ll need six (6) eggs, a pinch of salt, a couple of cups of sugar (or less, if that suits you) and 3 tablespoons of vanilla. Oh, and an ice cream maker, ice and rock salt.
Beat the eggs with the sugar and salt until it’s frothy and light. Meanwhile, heat the milk and cream until just simmering, then very, very slowly pour the egg mixture into the hot milk, beating all the while to keep the eggs from “curdling.” Cook on low heat until the mixture begins to thicken, then remove from heat, add vanilla and let it cool to room temperature. When it’s cool, put it in the refrigerator for three to four hours or overnight.
Grandma used to have to make the boys stay out of the ice box when she made it this way. She would usually send them to town to buy a big block of ice and I always thought it was to keep them out of the ice cream mix, but she probably needed the ice for the ice cream!
The next day, she would pour the base into the ice cream maker canister, pack around the canister with ice and rock salt and the boys would sit under that tree, cranking… and the rest of us would wait for the best treat ever!