I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!

Like many teenagers, I worked in an ice cream shop a couple nights a week while I was in high school. The job taught me a great deal about the working world and an insane amount about ice cream.

At the first signs of spring, it can be easy to run to your grocery store and pick out a tub of mass produced ice cream from a freezer. What you get from the grocery store usually isn’t bad — but it’s also not very good. Even the premium brands can be gummy or watery or flaky (and really amazing ice cream shouldn’t be any of these things).

Stopping at your local ice cream shop is also a hit-or-miss endeavor. National chains have ice cream on par with the mediocre stuff you can get from the grocery store, and small mom and pop places might be serving up the exact stuff you buy by the tub. What they sell is cold, and that is often all you can say about it. Freshly made, small batch ice cream is difficult to find at an ice cream shop, and when you do find it you usually have to pay twice the price for it compared to other places.

Making ice cream at home is typically less expensive and far superior in quality and flavor than anything you can buy from a shop or in your grocery store. It’s also super easy to make up a batch if you have an automatic ice cream maker ($40) or an ice cream attachment ($65) for your stand mixer. If you have an ice cream maker that requires you to pack it in salt or crank it by hand, it’s time for an upgrade. Another benefit of making ice cream at home is that you tend to eat less of it in one sitting than you do the other stuff. I think this is because you want to make the ice cream last longer, and also because it is richer and fills you up faster.

In addition to having an ice cream maker that is simple to use, I also recommend having a few other items to help you through the ice cream making process:

  1. David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop ($12). His recipes are a wonderful place to start and become comfortable with making ice cream at home.
  2. A bookmark in your web browser to David’s ice cream recipes online.
  3. An air-tight ice cream storage container (with a lid) for your freezer. The last thing you want is for your amazing ice cream to get freezer burn.
  4. Quality cream. I buy the freshest cream I can from a local dairy when I make ice cream. If you don’t have a dairy close to you, get the best stuff you can from your grocery store. Talk to the person who stocks the shelves in the dairy department to get you the freshest of the fresh from the back coolers.

This week I’ll reveal a couple of my favorite ice cream recipes to get everyone geared up for summer. A few practice rounds now will make you ready for the ice cream rush in the coming months.

2 comments posted

  1. Posted by penguinlady - 04/18/2011

    I love making ice cream at home with my stand mixer, and The Perfect Scoop has fantastic recipes. I do have to say, though, that at least where I am located, not all flavours are cost-effective. With vanilla beans at $6 for 2 beans, it’s actually cheaper for me to buy a half gallon than to make it myself. I do still make it sometimes, though, because the flavour of real vanilla is so good! (And if you haven’t tried making ice cream, it’s really not that difficult; just afford yourself enough time.)

  2. Posted by Erin Doland - 04/18/2011

    @penguinlady — If you live near an international market (Asian, European, South American), check there for vanilla beans. They don’t cost anywhere near $6 for 2 beans. I learned to love international markets a few summers ago when I had a southern drinks party and needed a bunch of sugar cane for mojitos. Sugar cane at our Safeway was like $5 for a foot. At the international grocer it was 35 cents for the same amount. Often, the suppliers are even the same for both markets. It’s ridiculous.

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