Make your own ice-cream at home

With technology making it so much cheaper to buy miniature versions of industrial machines, one of the things people are starting to start taking more interest in is making various interesting home made ice-cream.
With it being Spring in South Africa at the moment in order to add more cold desserts to our menus at work I’ve been playing around with various different flavours of ice-cream. So far I’ve made a normal vanilla one, a beetroot ice-cream, a peanut butter and banana one, a mixed berry and a few nights ago I made a dairy and egg free ice-cream.

This recipe is exactly the same as the one I use for the base of all my ice-cream. The only difference is that I use an industrial Paco Jet ice-cream machine to make the final product. You don’t need fancy machines though to make ice-cream. In the old days ice-cream was churned by hand. If you have a home ice-cream maker the same process applies too. I would highly recommend you buying a machine, our one in the kitchen costs well over R40 000 (about $4 000) but you get home ice-cream machines going for less than a tenth of that. Get one, it will save you a lot of time.

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The Paco Jet ice-cream machine we use in the kitchen

So what is ice-cream? Simplified in a short summary it’s basically a frozen custard that has had it ice crystals broken down either mechanically or manually by hand. Expensive ice-cream is expensive due largely to the use of better ingredients like cream and eggs rather than milk and corn flour. I make my ice-cream without adding any corn flour (Maizena) or thickening agents besides egg yolks. This results in a super smooth ice-cream that melts in your mouth without leaving an after taste or grainy texture that cheap ice-cream tends to do.

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To add flavour to your ice-cream add the flavouring during the custard making stage or afterwards during freezing stage if you’d like a more textured ice-cream e.g. Caramel ice-cream, berry ice-cream or rum and raisin. Real custard (called Sauce Anglaise) is a time consuming thing to make but it’s worth it. The same concept applies with sorbets. Make a relatively thick fruit syrup on the stove with glucose and fruits and fruit juice. The rest of the process is the same.

Ingredients:

Cream                  500ml
Milk                      500ml
Egg yolks            7
Castor Sugar     127g
Vanilla Extract   3ml

Method:

– Heat a large pot of water on the stove.
– In a separate pot or pan heat the milk and cream in a pot on the stove until hot and steaming (very NB: it must not boil)
– Mix the egg yolks, vanilla and sugar together in a metal bowl with a wooden spoon (don’t use a whisk throughout this entire process at all, it hides the thickness of the sauce from the eye).
– Slowly, little by little, pour the heated liquid into the egg mixture and stir to combine. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering hot water. (This is called a ‘double boiler’, by doing this you have a gentler heat on the bottom of the bowl which results in less chances of you curdling the custard).
– This is the part where you would add your flavouring. For a peanut butter and banana ice-cream for example you would add chopped banana cubes from 2 bananas and 3 spoons of peanut butter. If making a chocolate ice-cream I would recommend you use melted quality chocolate. Keep stirring the custard until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon without dripping. This WILL take a while, it needs patience and constant stirring.
– To cool the custard down quickly place the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and keep stirring until it has cooled down (this is what I do in the kitchen). Place a layer of plastic wrap on the surface of the custard to store. This prevents a skin from forming.
– If you will be using a home ice-cream maker machine pour the mixture into it and allow it to churn the ice-cream. This usually takes 30 minutes. What he machine does is basically freeze the custard whilst stirring it.
– If you are lucky enough to have a Paco Jet, then pour the custard into one of the ice-cream containers that the machine came with and place in the freezer to freeze. Churn the frozen custard whenever you need the ice-cream.
– HAND-MADE: this is the more intense process that will need some love and care. Place the custard in a large container that will conduct cold fast (like a metal bowl) and place the container in the freezer. For the next 3 hours whisk the mixture every 20 minutes as it freezes. This is how ice-cream was and is still made classically. By whisking you break up the large ice crystals as they form, resulting in a smooth end product.

There is a reason real ice-cream is not cheap, it uses expensive ingredients and whatever way you make it it will entail the use of either expensive equipment or hours of labour… But it’s definitely worth the pleasure at the end of it.

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