Sooner or later, your love for homemade ice cream and its relatives will send you shopping for your very own home-production machinery. Here is what you will find.
Most ice cream makers use electric motors, although purists may be able to find hand-crank machines.
Conventional ice cream freezers have the largest capacities -- 4 to 6 quarts. A metal canister holding the ice cream mix is fitted with a wooden dasher and set in a tub (wooden or plastic) surrounded by an ice and salt mixture. The motor takes care of the churning. Prices range from about $30 to $220.
The bowls in the no-ice, no-salt machines have double-insulated walls with coolants in between. The bowls are set in the freezer overnight. Next day the bowl is taken from the freezer, the dasher put in place, the bowl set on a frame, the ice cream mixture added, and the motor turned on. These machines have a capacity of about 1-1/2 quarts and cost about $60.
The ultimate ice cream freezers are counter-top, self-contained freezers -- no prefreezing of the bowl and certainly no ice or salt. Their capacities are only 1 quart, but they turn out the frozen product somewhat faster than other freezers. Prices range from about $300 to $1,000.
Resist the temptation to scoop into a freshly churned batch of frozen dessert because the best is yet to come. The flavor improves and the product melts more slowly when it has ripened. Here's how:
Conventional-style ice cream freezer -- remove the dasher after churning. Cover the freezer can with waxed paper or foil. Plug the hole in the lid and cap the freezer can with it. Pack the outer freezer bucket with enough ice and rock salt to cover the top of the freezer can, using 4 cups ice to 1 cup salt. Ripen yogurt or ice cream about 4 hours.
No-ice no-salt freezer -- remove the dasher after churning. Follow manufacturer's directions for ripening. Some direct covering the insulated can with a lid, covering the lid with ice, topping with a towel, and ripening for about 4 hours.
For a sublime taste experience, place a scoop of the sherbet on a wedge of watermelon. When using a 1-1/2? to 2-quart freezer, use 3 cups watermelon, 1-1/2 cups whipping cream, 3/4 cup buttermilk, and 2/3 cup sugar.
1. Place 3 cups of the watermelon in a blender container or food processor bowl; cover and blend or process until smooth. Repeat with remaining melon. (You should have 4 cups total of melon puree. If necessary, blend or process additional watermelon to measure 4 cups.)
2. In a large mixing bowl combine the watermelon puree, whipping cream, buttermilk, sugar, and, if desired, red food coloring. Stir the mixture until sugar is dissolved. Freeze in a 4- or 5-quart ice-cream freezer according to manufacturer's directions. Ripen and store according to directions.
Makes 20 servings.
Nutrition facts per serving: 212 cal., 8 g total fat (5 g sat. fat), 19 mg chol., 146 mg. sodium, 34 g carbo., 0 g fiber, and 3 g pro. Daily Value: 0% vit. A, 18% vit. C, 0% calcium, 0% iron.
If traditionally egg-y Italian gelato is off your list, try these versions, both made with egg product. Cholesterol count goes from 133 to 3 mg per serving. Nice save! Halve this recipe for the small-capacity freezer.
1. In a medium saucepan combine milk, egg product, and sugar. Cook and stir over medium heat about 10 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Do not boil.
2. Remove from heat. Place saucepan in sink or bowl of ice water for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour custard mixture into a bowl; set aside.
3. Place strawberries in a blender container or food processor bowl. Cover and blend or process until nearly smooth. Stir strawberries and lemon juice into custard mixture. Cover the surface with plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours or overnight until completely chilled. Or place bowl in a sink of ice water to chill quickly.
4. In a 2- or 3-quart ice cream freezer, freeze mixture according to the manufacturer's directions. Ripen and store according to directions. Serve with additional strawberries, if desired.
Makes about 7 cups (14 servings).
Nutrition facts per serving: 65 cal., 1 g total fat (0 g sat. fat), 3 mg chol., 41 mg sodium, 12 g carbo., 1 g fiber, 3 g pro. Daily Value: 11% vit. A, 41% vit. C.
Peach Gelato-Style Dessert: Prepare Strawberry Gelato-Style Dessert except substitute 4 cups cut-up peeled peaches (5 to 6 peaches) for the 4 cups berries. Garnish with slices of fresh peaches and a sprig of fresh mint, if desired.
Nutrition facts per servings: 73 cal., 1 g total fat (0 g sat. fat), 3 mg chol., 41 mg sodium, 14 g carbo., 1 g fiber, 3 g pro. Daily Value: 13% vit. A.
This ethereal flavor may inspire you to grow your own lavender. If the herb isn't available either fresh or dried, try mint or lemon verbena leaves. You can cut the recipe in half if you have a 1-quart freezer.
1. In a heavy medium saucepan warm milk over medium heat until hot but not boiling. Remove from heat; stir in sugar, honey, and lavender or mint. Cover and steep until mixture has cooled to room temperature (45 to 60 minutes). Strain milk mixture; discard lavender or mint.
2. Freeze mixture in a 2-quart ice cream freezer according to manufacturer's directions. Transfer frozen ice cream to a clean freezer container with a tight-fitting lid; pack down with a spoon. Freeze for at least 4 hours or for up to 1 month. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
3. Serve ice cream with fresh raspberries and sprinkle with lavender buds, if desired.
Makes 10 servings.
Nutrition facts per serving: 125 cal., 3 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 13 mg chol., 49 mg sodium, 21 g carbo., 3 g pro.
*Note: To bruise the mint leaves to release more flavor, lightly crush with the back of a spoon.
Let this be a pattern recipe for other yogurt-and-fruit combinations of your choice.
1. In a blender container or food processor bowl combine yogurt, 1 cup of the cherries, milk, and corn syrup. Cover and blend or process until almost smooth. If using a food processor, process half at a time.
2. Freeze mixture in a 2-quart ice cream freezer according to manufacturer's directions until almost firm. Add remaining 1-1/2 cups cherries and chocolate pieces; continue to freeze as directed until firm. Ripen and store according to directions. Serve with additional fresh cherries, if desired.
Makes 12 servings.
Nutrition facts per serving: 299 cal., 8 g total fat (2 g sat. fat), 9 mg chol., 107 mg sodium, 55 g carbo., 1 g fiber, 8 g pro. Daily Value: 5% vit. A, 7% vit. C, 19% calcium, 9% iron.