With summer fast approaching, my cravings for ice cream are getting stronger every day. When it’s hot outside, there are few more perfect desserts. And as easy as just scoring a pint of ice cream at the grocery store, it’s almost as easy – and still useful – to make your own ice cream at home.
That’s even truer right now, when you can find high-quality pints from top creameries like McConnell’s and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams on grocery store shelves across the country. Gone are the days when the only options were Blue Bunny and Haagen-Dazs; truly excellent ice cream is more accessible than ever. But this new generation of ice cream comes with a quite high price. Some of these newcomers cost upwards of $9 a pint, and if you have a serious ice cream habit, this might not be a sustainable addition to your grocery budget.
By making your own ice cream, you can easily get closer to your favorite flavors. A scaled-down version of the basic ice cream recipe used by Jeni’s is widely available online, and founder Jeni Britton Bauer wrote several ice cream cookbooks. That’s also true of the minds behind the famous Portland, Oregon chain, Salt & Straw, whose recipe book includes both a basic, ridiculously easy five-minute ice cream recipe and the methods for fooling beloved flavors like roasted strawberry and sea salt caramel. The experts openly share their secrets with us mere mortals, and we would be fools not to accept their absolute wealth of knowledge.
For those of us with rock-salt flavored childhood memories of homemade hand-cranked ice cream, the idea may still seem like too much of an effort. But ice cream freezer technology has come a long way since the 90s, and many ice cream makers are eminently affordable. My personal recommendation is this cult model from Cuisinart, which costs less than $100 and involves little work beyond putting your ice cream chamber in the freezer for several hours and flipping a switch. After pouring your custard mixture into the chamber, you only have to wait about 20 minutes to have over a quart of perfectly frozen ice cream just waiting to be devoured in one sitting. But if you don’t want to go broke for an ice cream freezer, that’s okay either: as long as you have a loaf pan, you can do ice without churning at home. And no matter how you make ice cream, you can wrap it in your own cute reusable containers to really kick things up a notch.
The best part about making your own ice cream, however, is that you can customize every step of the process. Wish the cookie dough pieces in Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream were bigger? Love the idea of swirling pomegranate molasses or fig syrup or spicy chili crisp in a vanilla base? You can make all of this happen. You can also substitute plant-based milk if you don’t like dairy and splurge on ingredients you love, like premium vanilla or lush, vibrant saffron strands. The real luxury, however, is to make totally bespoke ice cream that perfectly suits your tastes – and only your tastes.
Sonia Lazo is an illustrator from the little tropical Salvador. They are also a book author and tattoo artist, and enjoy creating colorful, fun, and silly artwork that can put a smile on your face.