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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Summer Traditions: Making Ice Cream

One of my fondest memories growing up is attending ice cream socials where every family would bring a different flavor of homemade ice cream.  We also attended annual barn dances where everyone would do the same and sample the flavors after square dancing.  My family had both an electric mixer and a manual churn, and we always felt the hand-churned ice cream was the best.  I have tried to revive this tradition in my own family by making a variety of flavors throughout the summer, especially when we have cookouts with friends and family so everyone gets a turn to churn.  We sit on one of our porches, the patio, or even poolside with our feet in the water during the really hot days of July.  Sometimes the adults even multi-task by imbibing in a Gin & Tonic while churning.

It all starts with our nanny goats and their babies.  We milk the mothers first thing in the morning, and then their babies get to be with them the rest of the day.  That gives us plenty of milk, and no one has to bottle feed the kids.  Of course, cow's milk works too; we just have goats, so that is what we use.  We find that the Nigerian Dwarf goat's milk is so rich that we do not need to use whipping cream; we simply make our ice cream with their milk, leaving the cream in it.  Our churn is a White Mountain ice cream churn, which we are very happy with.  We were able to purchase ours from a local store that carries many Amish goods, but other brands can also be found in the Lehman's catalog.  So far we have made the standard flavors of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, but we have also made peach, cherry, black raspberry, blueberry, Heathbar Crunch, Oreo cookie, and coffee, just to name a few.  Everyone takes a turn churning, even the youngest.  It only takes about 45 minutes, and then we place the churn in the shade with a blanket around it for insulation until we are ready to eat.

Below is the recipe we use.  No cooking and no eggs required.
Basic Vanilla Ice Cream
8 cups of goat's milk with cream intact; 2 cups sugar; 1/4 tsp. salt; 3 tsps. vanilla
Warm (but do not boil) 2 cups of the cream over low heat.  Keep a watch at all times so it does not scorch.  Stir in all of the sugar and salt until dissolved.  Chill in refrigerator overnight.  Add the remaining milk and vanilla with it into the canister of the ice cream freezer the next day.  If you want other flavors, add these at this time too.  Alternate layers of ice and rock salt around the canister and churn.  We check it after about 30 minutes or so to see if it is the desired thickness.  You can usually tell when it is done because it gets much harder to churn.  Ours is typically the consistency of soft-serve ice cream after 45 minutes.  If there are any leftovers, they go into a container in the freezer.  The ice cream is much more solid by the next day.

From toddlers to grandparents, everyone gets a chance to churn!

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