Maybe you have an ice cream maker. But it’s probably in the basement or the garage or that cabinet that’s out-of-reach, never been used.
Or maybe you’re thinking about buying one.But it seems like a lot of effort and you have to wonder: Is homemade ice cream really more special than the super-premium store-bought varieties?
The answer is yes, and here are 5 reasons why you should dust off—or buy— that magical milk-churning machine pronto.
1. You can make it just the way you like it. Homemade ice cream tastes more like pure, sweet cream than store-bought ice cream because there aren’t any preservatives. It’s fresh, and you can use the freshest ingredients, such as summer fruit from the farmers market (see our recipe for fresh peach ice cream).
Most store-bought ice creams have a lot of air whipped into them. Homemade ice cream is often thicker and richer. You can control the milk-fat ratio and experiment with different ingredients (for the lactose-intolerant among us, coconut milk is the answer). If you’re a health nut, make some frozen yogurt.
2. It’s easy and inexpensive. Making traditional ice cream simply entails combining heavy cream and whole milk with a flavoring of your choice in one bowl and pouring the mixture in the ice cream maker to churn for 20 to 30 minutes. We recommend using Cuisinart’s Classic Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker, which costs $50-60.
The only advance prep is freezing the freezer bowl overnight, and some really high-end ice cream makers don’t even require pre-freezing (try Cuisinart’s Supreme Commercial Quality Ice Cream Maker, which will set you back roughly $250-300).
Making a custard-based ice cream, which contains eggs (French Vanilla is an example), is a bit more complicated and takes some advance preparation. For more info on different types of ice cream, see our “Frozen Dessert Quick Facts” below.
3. Your kids will have a cow. Not just literally. My heart jumped for joy when I saw my ice cream beginning to thicken in the machine, so just imagine how excited your kid will be. Plus, when you’re scooping the ice cream out, the mixing arm will be covered in ice cream, dripping and begging to be licked—arguably the most fun part of process.
4. You’ll impress your dinner party guests. Serving a summer fruit pie or cobbler à la mode with rum ice cream you made yourself will wow your friends and give you a great sense of pride.
5. It’s creative. When you’re making your own ice cream, the sky’s the limit when it comes to flavors. Candied Bacon, Absinthe, Orange Creamsicle, Nutella, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Sour Cream and Olive Oil are just a few ideas, with recipes just a Google search away. Whatever weird combo your heart desires, go for it. Make the ice cream that will make us all scream.
For more information on making homemade ice cream, we recommend checking out “The Perfect Scoop” by David Lebovitz, and many of his recipes are available on his blog.
Frozen dessert quick facts
Ice cream: A frozen food containing cream or milk and butterfat, sugar, flavoring and sometimes eggs. Ice cream is by definition 10 percent butterfat. Most commercial ice creams contain 10-18 percent.
Custard-based ice cream: heavy cream, whole milk and eggs and sugar heated on the stove that should be prepared ahead of time and chilled before freezing.
Traditional ice cream: Made with heavy cream and milk, without eggs.
Sorbet: A dairy-free frozen fruit dessert typically made with sugar and a fruit puree.
Sherbert: A frozen fruit-flavored mixture, similar to sorbet, but with an added thickener such as milk, egg white or gelatin.