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Nov 16, 2009 03:36 PM

Ice Cream: Need help getting the right amount of milkfat


I've been having trouble getting exactly the right amount of fat in my homemade ice cream. I've experimented with several recipes but can't seem to find the right balance. Too much fat= a waxy mouthfeel. Too little=bigger ice crystals and very hard to scoop.

Anyone have suggestions for how I can get the proportions just right? Thanks!

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  1. 2 parts heavy cream to 1 part whole milk and 1 whole egg per part of cream works for me as a foundation.

    1. I often use just whole milk - remember you need to let it that a bit before scooping, but I also stabilize with starch, and/or gums and dry milk. It tastes light, which I like.

      Otherwise I use half cream and half whole milk, with 3-6 egg yolks per quart.

      1. Commercial ice creams tend to have 10-14% Butterfat in the ice cream mix.

          1. It also depends on what flavor is your ice cream. If the flavor is vanilla, 2 part heavy cream to 1 part milk is about right. For chocolate flavor, you might want to go 1 to 1 because of the fat in chocolate. For fruit flavors, I may increase the cream because of the fruit puree. Also different brand of cream have different butterfat.

            4 Replies
            1. re: PBSF

              Thanks everyone! It's all helpful. I usually do a Philadelphia style (egg-free) ice cream. I bet egg helps regulate texture as well.

              I have tried half whipping cream, half skim milk (still a bit waxy). I'm assuming that would be pretty similar to half-and half?

              1. re: eatongal

                For egg free ice cream, the best vanilla flavor that I've made comes from a recipe in Time-Life Foods of the World: American Cooking. It uses all cream. The other ingredients are sugar, salt, vanilla bean and extract. I've have never found it to be overly buttery/waxy mouthfeel. Perhaps you over churned the mixture. It does not keep as well as ice cream made with egg yolk and it melts much faster if left out. I prefer it over the French style because the taste of sweet cream really comes through.

                1. re: PBSF

                  Over churning is possibility for the batches I made in the summer. It took longer to freeze in the hot kitchen! I may have then subsequently reduced the fat too much.

                  1. re: PBSF

                    There's a lot more to mouth feel than fat content. I'm not sure what other posters mean by "over churning", but if your machine cools too slowly or you add the mix when it is not fully chilled you will get big ice crystals, and if you have a really good machine and can chill until the mix is so solid the dasher won't turn, the ice cream probably will be too hard. Too much egg yolk can turn the ice cream into a brick. There are many ways to mess up.

                    As for fat content, I've used whole milk once or twice and that was fine, but have had excellent results using half and half and don't find that higher fat levels add much to most recipes (but sometimes it does). There's no universally correct amount of fat -- it's a matter of taste.