Like making jams and jellies, pickling and other forms of preserving, making ice cream has both a nostalgic connotation and affinity for the eat-local/artisan-food movement.
As Jan Roberts-Dominguez pointed out in this week’s A Fresh Approach column, home cooks have been using ice-cream makers since the early 1900s. But we can only imagine that those cooks weren’t churning up flavors like strawberry-candied jalapeno, pink grapefruit-tarragon, sweet corn, chevre and even prosciutto — all popular with boutique producers in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to recent food stories.
Here in the Rogue Valley, we’ve been tasting gourmet — some outrageous — ice-cream flavors since Scott Harding’s Artik Creamery came on the scene about two years ago. While Harding dabbles in white pepper and tomato-basil ice creams, some of his most popular flavors are Meyer lemon, kaffir lime and honey-mint with dark-chocolate flakes.
Artik has been conspicuously absent, however, from farmers markets this year. Foodies can infer that bigger plans are in the works for Artik, previously produced at Talent’s Rent-A-Kitchen and featured in A la Carte.
But as Jan explained, ice cream is well within most home cooks’ abilities. And not all hope is lost if you lack an ice-cream machine. These methods gathered by McClatchy News Service may not yield the smoothest-textured ice cream, but they may spark your interest enough to invest in an actual appliance or expend the effort to power a crank-handled bucket.
The first requires just resealable, plastic freezer bags for equipment. Thoroughly mix 1 cup heavy cream, 1⁄2 cup whole milk, 1⁄3 cup sugar and 3⁄4 teaspoon vanilla or other type of flavoring (add bits of crumbled chocolate or other goodies to ramp up flavor). Pour the mixture into a medium-sized, zip-close bag. Seal the bag, squeezing out excess air, which disrupts the freezing process. If desired, double-bag the mixture.
Fill a larger, zip-close bag with 21⁄2 pounds of ice and 11⁄2 pounds of rock salt. Place bag with the ice-cream mixture inside the ice bag and zip up the ice bag carefully. Throw the ice bag back and forth, up and down, behind your back — whatever it takes to keep it mixing. In 15 minutes or so, you’ve got a bag o’ ice cream.
The second method is accomplished with a tightly-sealing jar that can hold up in the freezer. In such a jar (perhaps the Ball brand), combine 1 cup milk, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Shake to blend. Place jar in freezer for about 31⁄2 hours, shaking it every 30 minutes until the mix is sufficiently ice cream-like.
Or if you want to go even bigger, here are some more recipes courtesy of McClatchy. The first fudges the need for an ice-cream machine with a blender or food processor.
Pineapple Ice Cream
1 (12-ounce) can frozen pineapple-juice concentrate
2 cups heavy cream
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients with 1⁄2 cup water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes, then stir again to make sure sugar is completely dissolved. Scrape mixture into a shallow pan, cover and freeze.
Break frozen mixture into small chunks with a fork, then process in a food processor or blender until smooth. If some frozen chunks are stubborn, continue processing; extra processing makes ice cream smoother and creamier.
Serve immediately as a slushy spoon drink, or scrape into a container and refreeze until firm enough to scoop, at least 3 hours. If ice cream freezes solid, let it soften in refrigerator for 15 minutes or longer, or carefully soften in microwave on defrost setting a few seconds at a time. For best flavor and texture, serve within 3 days.
Makes about 1 quart.
Roasted-Strawberry and Buttermilk Ice Cream
1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced 1⁄2 inch thick
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1⁄2 cups whole milk, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1⁄8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1⁄4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1⁄4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 375 F. Combine the strawberries and 1⁄3 cup of the sugar in an 8-by-8-inch glass or ceramic baking dish, stirring gently to mix well. Roast in preheated oven for 8 minutes or until just soft. Let cool slightly.
In a food processor or blender, puree berries with the lemon juice. Measure 1⁄2 cup puree and set aside; refrigerate rest for another use. (You’ll have more than enough for another batch of ice cream; recipe makes this amount because berries must fill baking dish, or they will dry out or scorch while roasting.)
In a bowl, mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch to make a smooth slurry. With a wooden spoon, stir together the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the cream and corn syrup with remaining milk and sugar. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, then boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cornstarch slurry.
Return pan to medium-high heat; bring to a boil and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Gradually mix hot milk mixture into cream cheese until smooth. Add reserved berry puree and the buttermilk; blend well.
Pour mixture into a 1-gallon, zip-close freezer bag; submerge sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice if necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Pour mixture into canister of an ice-cream machine and churn until thick and creamy. Pack ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in coldest part of freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Makes 4 servings.
— Recipe adapted by McClatchy News Service from “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home,” by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan, 2011).