Story by: Mary Aho
I scream, you scream! Who doesn’t scream for ice cream? When it comes to frozen treats, ice cream is at the top of the list. The first official record of ice cream in the United States dates back to 1744. However, ice cream was considered an exotic and rare delicacy until the 1800s. Today, ice cream is the best selling treat in America, right after cookies- and July is National Ice Cream Month, so we’re talking all things ice cream.
When making your own ice cream, you need to start with a great base. Traditionally, ice cream is made with dairy milk or cream. However, milk alternatives have recently been growing in popularity. Whether it be a dairy intolerance or just a personal preference, there are several options for dairy-free ice cream. Soy, almond, and cashew milk are all popular bases for ice cream these days. Although ice cream is typically sweetened with sugar, honey or agave, and sweet alternatives like stevia are also becoming increasing more popular.
Vanilla is the most popular flavor in the United States, followed closely by chocolate, and then cookies and cream. Making ice cream at home has endless possibilities. With a simple ice cream base, you can add any ingredients you want. When the ice cream is churning, it’s best to keep It simple with spices and liquid extracts. Soft fruit like peaches or strawberries can be added during the churning process, as well. Thicker or harder ingredients like cookies or nuts should be mixed in after the ice cream has frozen.
There are so many options for ice cream churns and freezers. No matter your budget, you can make ice cream at home. An electric ice cream maker can be purchased for around $100, and a traditional churn that uses ice and rock salt starts around $35 dollars, whether manual or electric. If you aren’t looking to buy an ice cream maker at all, you can pour your ice cream base into a zip lock bag and place that in a larger zip lock bag with ice and rock salt and give it a good shake until the ice cream is frozen.
On a hot summer day, nothing is quite as indulging as homemade ice cream. Take this simple ice cream base and make it your own. Experiment with fun flavor combinations like lavender and honey, chocolate with chilies, or balsamic and strawberries. So make the most of this National Ice Cream Month, and make some delicious homemade ice cream.
2 cups half ‘n half
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
Combine all ingredients in bowl, mixing well.
Pour mixture into ice cream maker
Churn for 20-40 minutes or until desired consistency.
Pour mixture into air tight container and freeze until solid for a scoopable ice cream.
TIPS: Use this recipe for easy vanilla ice cream as a base to customize with your favorite flavors! Use 1/2 cup of a variety of mix-ins like chocolate chips, candy pieces or nuts. Add the additional ingredients to the vanilla ice cream after it has churned in your ice cream maker for at least 15 minutes. Use a container with a tight-fitting lid to store your ice cream base for up to one week in the refrigerator.