I like hand-cranked ice cream, not the kind that runs electrically (or even worse the kind that comes from the store). I read lots of books about pioneers when I was growing up and I loved the stories about sitting on the front porch in the summer and taking turns cranking the ice cream freezer. I also loved to think about how you store ice by first cutting it out of a local lake, river or pond in big blocks, loading them onto sleighs pulled by oxen or horses, and then packing them in sawdust in a spring house or some kind of shack.
I've been making this ice cream a lot around the tower where Squid is located and there are always enough willing volunteers to help me out when the churn gets difficult to turn. There are also lots of questions and on the fourth of july a large contingent of recent Cambridge grads took photos as though I were a tourist attraction. Very bizarre feeling. That's not why I do it, of course. It's because I really don't like my ice cream any other way than fresh out of the churn. And plus you burn all those calories while you're turning it so you don't die of guilt after gorging yourself.
Step 1: Mixing Your Ingredients
Ice cream is really quite simple to make, but because it is made of so few ingredients the quality of those ingredients is key. I like to use Clover milk and cream, which is a local to the SF Bay Area creamery. You can drive past their cows on the way to the ocean from Petaluma or Sebastopol and see for yourself why the milk tastes so delicious. Use local, fresh ingredients whenever possible.
Ingredients for a basic vanilla recipe:
about a cup of sugar (I like unrefined sugar)
one or two eggs (depending on how rich you want it to taste)
a half gallon of milk
a vanilla bean
Put all the ingredients except the milk in a bowl and stir. Cream is optional, but when I add it I add about half a cup. It tastes much thicker when you have cream in it, and creamier (obviously).
In the photo you can see two variations we have tried: cookies for a cookies and cream flavor, and fresh strawberries. Using the basic cream recipe above you can easily modify depending upon your current cravings or what's in season. Be creative! This is (one of) the fun parts!
When adding things like strawberries be sure to wash them and remove any stems or pits. We used an immersion blender to blend the berries into the cream mixture. When adding things like cookies you should wait until the end when the ice cream is already frozen and then stir in the cookie bits, otherwise you get a kind of chocolate mush ice cream (that's what we got and it was still yummy).
A note about the vanilla bean: Some people have never scraped the seeds out of a vanilla bean before. It's very easy and rewarding because it smells delicious. Just cut along the vanilla bean the long way and then scrape the seeds out with the back of the knife.