When I was growing up, my Uncle Kevin had an old-fashioned, hand-crank ice cream maker. I have vivid memories of the family gathering around the table at the neighborhood clubhouse, where we held every single annual summer gathering for as long as I can remember, watching as my uncle cranked away. The chilled delicacy he created was the best peach ice cream we’d ever had partially because my Aunt Jinx drove those peaches all the way from Georgia but mostly because we’d all seen the hard work that went into making it. Not unlike the satisfaction that comes with the first ’mater sandwich of the season after planting tomato seeds in the dark of February, our ice cream tasted better because we’d had to work for it. That is one of life’s truisms: Things are always sweeter after a bit of effort.
If you’re nodding along with me and thinking I want that! I want to eat ice cream knowing that I made it thanks to sure force of will and forearm strength! but quickly cursing the fact that you’re lacking the proper equipment, let me reassure you that anyone who has two plastic bags or two tins of different sizes can make ice cream at home, the old-fashioned way.
Here’s how: First, you mix together equal parts heavy cream and whole milk. Then you add in some vanilla, a bit of brown sugar, a pinch of salt, and fruit. Let’s add some strawberries, too, because this is late spring, and we are all bowing down to the glory of that first fruit of the year. You mix this all together and pour it into a plastic sandwich bag. Then you place that sandwich bag in a plastic gallon bag and surround it with ice and rock salt. Seal it up tight and shake. Shake, shake, shake, and shake some more. Have your mom shake it. Have your spouse shake it. Have Darth Vader shake it. Shake and shake until, like magic, you’ve made ice cream, and then delight in the sweetest treat you’ve ever tasted.
Yield: 14 servings.
4 cups heavy cream
4 cups whole milk
2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
2 pints fresh strawberries
1 cup rock salt, divided
4 gallon-size plastic bags
4 sandwich plastic bags
1. Hull strawberries. Chop 1/3 and set aside. Place remaining strawberries in blender and pulse until minced but not pulverized.
2. In a large bowl, combine strawberries, cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stir well. Divide between sandwich bags.
3. Fill each gallon bag halfway with ice and 1/4 cup of rock salt. Place a sandwich bag filled with mixture into each gallon bag and seal tightly. Wrap each with a hand towel, and distribute to your eager party guests.
4. Shake, being careful not to put pressure on the interior bag, for 10-15 minutes or until your cream solidifies and becomes ice cream. Serve immediately or freeze for an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour.