Expert-Approved Tips for Making the Most Delicious Homemade Ice Cream
There's nothing better than homemade ice cream. Making ice cream is a fun process, but we can all agree that eating it is even better. To make sure your churning results in scoops of peach or chocolate perfection, we talked to Tyler Malek, one of the founders of renowned ice cream company Salt & Straw and the author of a new ice cream cookbook. Here, he shares his expert tips.
Investing in the Right Equipment
You don't need a high-end ice cream maker to produce delicious ice cream at home. Malek's preferred entry-level ice cream maker is the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker that rings in at under $100. Professional ice cream makers are more likely to use internal compressor machines rather than a pre-frozen bowl; the Breville Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker is Malek's choice for an at-home internal compressor machine that won't break the bank. For storing homemade ice cream, Malek prefers using inexpensive plastic deli containers: "The only way [the ice cream] will freeze quickly is if the material is relatively thin and allows for the cold air to get in." The one material to avoid? "Glass containers don't allow the hardening to work properly. Glass insulates the cold air and nothing can really penetrate it, beyond just the fact that it's dangerous, since broken glass looks a lot like ice."
Timing It All Out
Between pre-freezing the ice cream bowl, making the base, and then letting the ice cream freeze, the process of making ice cream can be time consuming. To cut down on prep, Malek suggests making large batches of ice cream to have on hand. Just freeze the un-churned base for up to three months, then pull it out to thaw whenever you're ready to make a new flavor. "It's just like making chicken stock-make a big batch all at once, freeze a couple quart containers, and take it out whenever needed."
Aging the Base
If you're not in a rush, let the ice cream base sit overnight. "It's one of those tricks like salsa. If you eat it right away, you're like, 'Oh, that's really good.' But if you let it sit overnight, you're like, 'What just happened?' It's not completely necessary but it's an extra step that really makes a big difference," says Malek.
Preventing Freezer Burn
Ever open up a pint of ice cream to see that a layer of fine frost has formed on top? That's called freezer burn and it happens when the ice cream is exposed to too much moisture. Malek has a super easy technique for preventing freezer burn from forming: "Put parchment paper on top of the ice cream and press it around the whole surface area. It's just like placing plastic wrap on top of pudding to prevent a skin from forming," he says. For added protection, place your ice cream container in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag and place it in the deepest part of your freezer. "Every time you open your freezer, all of this warm air rushes in your freezer. The air has a decent amount of moisture in it, which freezes and attaches to stuff. If you have your ice cream in a plastic bag, the moisture will never get in your ice cream."
Getting the Perfect Scoop
Turns out there's more to taking a scoop than having it be full and round; you also want to protect your ice cream from excess moisture. Malek recommends scooping across the surface of the ice cream, rather than digging in deep. He likes using a classic Zeroll Aluminum Ice Cream Scoop. "If you scoop in, you're exposing more ice cream to surface area that could go bad. If you scoop just across the top, you keep a flat surface to put your parchment on."
Making Your Own Mix-Ins
Commercial caramel sauce and hot fudge are designed to be drizzled over ice cream, not mixed-in and frozen. When adding ingredients to your base, make sure the recipe will freeze successfully. For example, Malek says the brownie recipe he uses at Salt & Straw is fudgier, caramel is chewier, and cookies are drier, all of which become an ideal texture when frozen and mixed in ice cream.