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Ice cream thickeners?

OK so I just got a new ice cream machine...

I only want the best ice cream, so I use all organic ingredients, and to make it creamy I use raw egg yolks... The only problem is that using too many of those makes it eggy tasting (gross!).

I'm totally new at this, so I've been researching it a little bit, and it looks like to me the best thickeners to use are guar gum, locust bean gum, and food grade carrageenan (not the toxic degraded carrageenan).

Which of these thickeners are the best? Or are there any better ones? I'm looking for the most natural and best tasting ones

Thanks for any comments

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  1. No, no need to use thickeners. Ice cream begins with a custard - eggs, sugar, milk and/or cream, flavourings. That is all you need. Carefully cook the custard over a double boiler and follow directions. Chill and put in your ice cream maker. Go on to www.epicurious.com for some recipes. Or just google. Or there have been several threads on CH so just search here for recommendations.

    1. If you don't want a frozen custard (which is what ice cream made with eggs really is), go minimal. Two cups of heavy cream, one cup of whole milk, one cup of sugar, and a tablespoon of vanilla go into a medium saucepan. Bring to 170F, let cool slightly, then put in a lidded container and into the fridge to cool and allow flavors to mellow and blend. After a few hours (or even as much as 24 hours), pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the directions. Simple. Easy. Delicious.

      4 Replies
      1. re: ricepad

        actually I wanted to make a low-fat ice cream, so the stuff I'm making actually has no cream

        1. re: nessie33

          Hmm....although I've never done it, you could try using 3 cups of whole milk instead of the 2/1 combination. It may lack richness and/or 'mouthfeel', though. The way I see it, I prefer a fattier version, and just resolve to eat one small scoop.

          1. re: nessie33

            Then you wouldn't want to add that egg yolk - it is all fat. But I would personally make a simple custard with milk rather than cream. I'm sure you could google gelato - that is low fat.

          2. re: ricepad

            I've done both Sarah Galvin and rice pad. And then my flavors. My mom now has my ice cream maker but I borrow it now and then which is fun.

            Good ice cr4eam to me always has cream and eggs, but maybe just me. Never made lowfat, just the real thing or a gelato which is nothing the same.

          3. If you "only want the best ice cream", it will require cream and eggs. But if that is too rich, look for gelato, ices, sherbet, or frozen yogurt . Lots of recipes out there,but they are not ice cream.

            1 Reply
            1. I made a wonderful lowfat strawberry frozen yogurt last week (with strained Stonyfield Lowfat Plain). I've also made lowfat and reduced fat ice creams (replace the cream with 1% or 2% milk). It does lack richness, but the flavors are still very good. If you are looking for lowfat, I'll echo what several of the other posters have said--go with sherbets or sorbets or frozen yogurts.

              I also recall reading of someone who used fat-free half-and-half with good results. I'm a little wary of that, because it probably has a lot of chemicals.

              1. Surprisingly an incredibly effective thickener is cornstarch - you get the super rich and creamy mouthfeel without fussing with the custard base. I first tried it in the mexican chocolate recipe below and have been using it ever since. For me it comes out even creamier and a little healthier.

                1/2 cup sugar
                2 Tbs cornstarch
                1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
                Pinch of salt
                2 cups whole milk, divided
                5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
                1/2 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

                Whisk sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt in heavy medium saucepan until blended. Gradually add 1/4 cup milk, whisking until cornstarch is dissolved. Whisk in remaining 1 3/4 cups milk. Whisk over medium-high heat until mixture thickens and comes to boil, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook 1 minute longer, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat; add chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until melted and smooth.

                Transfer base to medium bowl. Mix in cream. Place bowl over large bowl filled with ice and water and cool, stirring often, about 30 minutes.

                Process base in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to container; cover. Freeze at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

                2 Replies
                1. re: kasiav

                  yes, I use cornstarch , also - and i am happy with the results.

                  1. re: kasiav

                    This recipe is excellent ... I've been trying to make homemade ice cream for awhile now and this recipe is the winner! I did half the recipe and next time I will not add only 1/8 t cinnamon (since it had a cinnamon flavor that was stronger than I prefer). I used milk chocolate because that's what I had on had. It had a nice texture and was delicious! Thank you for sharing!!

                  2. don't fear the hydrocolloids! I don't know specific preparations/amounts/brands you should use as thickeners, but in NYC both Ciao Bella and Il Laboratorio del Gelato use (I believe) carrageenan instead of eggs to get REALLY delicious, dense, fantastic ice cream that isn't eggy.
                    I would challenge anyone who thinks thickeners have no place in good ice cream to take a trip down to orchard street and prove me wrong.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Lemon Curry

                      Where would you purchase hydrocolloids? What is it? Has anyone tried this and what where the results?

                      1. re: Lemon Curry

                        I don't know if Orchard St. uses a mix, but most commercial ice creams do, and they have a bad reputation with hounds and foodies. One look at the ingredient label is enough to steer many of us back to natural ingredients.
                        Hydrocolloids and carrageenan are highly processed additives, a far cry from natural ingredients, so it it is guilt by association, until shown otherwise, for many of us.

                        1. re: Lemon Curry

                          hi! do you have any experience with using thickeners in making ice cream

                          1. re: nessie33

                            Thanx for the INFO on http://www.willpowder.net/, I just placed an order an anticipate having fun.
                            I make my own ice cream at home for budget, taste and health reasons..

                            1. re: dquesnel

                              you're welcome! I'm happy to encourage any kind of open-minded culinary exploration, and I can sympathize with your budget-consciousness as well.

                          2. re: Lemon Curry

                            Hydrocolloids are a family of substances made up of polymers, long-chain molecules which form a network in water and give it thickened or gel-like properties. Some more popular ones are gelatin, tapioca, cornstarch, and agar-agar, which many of you probably have in your kitchens, especially if you cook cold desserts or certain Asian cuisines. Some more "exotic" ones are xanthan gum, carrageenan, methylcellulose, guar gum, etc. The majority of these are derived from natural sources - agar-agar and carrageenan are from seaweed, guar gum from beans, gelatin from rendered animal bones. A number of these have been in use for centuries: agar-agar and konjac flour in Japan, for example.

                            On the topic of thickeners in ice creams, one of the oldest frozen desserts still being consumed is the Turkish/Mediterranean ice cream Maras Dondurma, which traditionally uses the long-chain carbohydrates found in certain orchid roots as a thickener instead of eggs. It's difficult to find the ingredients outside of Turkey, but I've made it and it works quite well. And the concentration of thickener is very small - around the scale of a teaspoon for a quart of ice cream. I don't have any resources for other types of thickeners but I believe there are a number of websites dealing with them online - this one http://www.cybercolloids.net/recipes/... seems like more of an industrial-type formulation of ice cream, but you can see that the concentrations of hydrocolloids needed is very low.

                            One website which is a good resource for unusual specialty products is http://www.willpowder.net/ which sells things like xanthan gum, methylcellulose, and agar-agar, as well as other interesting chemicals like sodium alginate for spherifying liquids.

                            I don't often buy commercial ice cream because frequently, additives are overused so that an inferior product can be passed off as a richer, creamier, better-made one. However, these products have interesting specific properties which, when used responsibly and for a specific purpose along with other high-quality ingredients, can achieve delicious foods. For example, an excellent, thick ice cream which does not taste like egg, if that is what you are looking for, or a gelatin which does not melt at high temperatures. The important thing is to keep an open mind, keep exploring, and recognize that irresponsible overuse of products is not the same as a bad product.

                            1. re: Lemon Curry

                              thanks for the info! I've actually tried using acacia gum, which makes it sort of fluffy.. I was thinking about getting some fenugreek gum too, which is like xanthan gum, except you use smaller amounts of it, and its supposed to be good for diabetics or something

                          3. Why not just use one or two whole eggs instead of the 6 yolks (that I love!)?

                            I love the lemon buttermilk sorbet recipe on epicurious. It's not low sugar but it is low fat.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Vetter

                              Vetter, I had a couple of cups of buttermilk sitting in the fridge so I am making that recipe from epicurious. Sounds good and, no fat!

                            2. 1. agree with sarah galvin 100%
                              2. do not, i repeat, do not use additives like evil ubiquitous vegetable gums. if you want those, just buy your ice cream at the store! ice cream will firm up if frozen a while -- if you can wait to eat it!

                              1. Try any of the recipes listed in the attached article. Jeni makes some of the best ice cream in the country (head over to the Midwest board and you'll see many posts about her products) and she formulated these recipes for the home cook. I've made the vanilla bean ice cream and it is, by far, the best homemade ice cream I've tried (no eggs, just cornstarch to thicken).