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Mar 14, 2012 03:09 PM

Home made ice cream -- what am I doing wrong?

I can never seem to make home made ice cream that is any good. It just either comes out grainy, or not creamy, or it is runny, or it is a frozen chunk of blech on the paddle or it freezes to the side of the bucket part of my mixer first preventing thorough and uneven mixing. I've used multiple recipes, multiple techniques, I have a super cold freezer for the bucket part of my ice cream maker and I freeze the paddle and I chill the ingredients, but I never ever seem to get the kind of results that you see on, say, Top Chef or AIC or even what the recipe says you'll get.
Is this a matter of equipment? Do you need commercial equipment plus a blast chiller to get a creamy smooth ice cream? And how do you store it after it is done (assuming any is left), without it freezing to a hard crystal? When I pack it and cover it with plastic wrap it turns into a popsicle even if I use a top rated recipe and ingredients.
Who here has consistent luck making and storing home made ice cream and how do you DO it?

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  1. Not sure what formula you're using, but one thing that makes a _huge_ difference and improvement in the texture of home made ice cream is the use of corn syrup rather than sugar.

    6 Replies
    1. re: The Professor

      OOH haven't heard of using corn syrup. I'll search for some links. Thanks!

      1. re: freia

        I had issues with texture because I have to use a combination of sugar substitutes in place of sugar. I learned on these boards (I think you can find a long thread about it from last year or the year before) that adding vodka prevents crystals from forming, for a better texture. I haven't tried it yet, but I did try the polydextrose solution, and as long as I didn't use too much, it was smooth and creamy and not gummy. HTH.

        Edit: Here's one thread, and there are a bunch more at the bottom of that page...

        1. re: mcf

          Thanks, mcf! Much appreciated. I'm off to read!

      2. re: The Professor

        I never, EVER use corn syrup. I am highly allergic to it. And I always have lovely, creamy ice cream.

        I always use a cooked custard for starters, and chill it thoroughly before blending in the cream and churning.

        1. re: ChefJune

          "I always use a cooked custard for starters, and chill it thoroughly before blending in the cream and churning."

          This is the way to go...

          1. re: ChefJune


            My first attempts at ice cream used recipes from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. Every recipe I've tried from the book has been great. I follow his directions carefully and have never had any problems. No commercial equipment - I use Cuisinart's 2 qt electric stainless steel model and lovelovelove it.

        2. In my experience, you definitely do not need professional equipment to make creamy, delicious ice cream. Granted, few home ice cream machines whip quite as much air into the mix as professional or industrial ones do, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing (I'm not a fan of that storebought ice cream that's all air anyway). There are so many variables with ice cream, especially in regards to temperature, that I've found it impossible to get it perfect every time, but I do get fairly consistent results if I do a few things.

          I think of ice cream making as being more similar to baking than to cooking. There's chemistry going on and even a slight change in temperature or the balance of ingredients can throw everything off.

          Make sure that your canister and your ice cream mix have been chilling for at least 24 hours (longer for the canister if your freezer is less than arctic) and do not remove them from the fridge/freezer until right before you start churning.

          I've never tried freezing the paddle, and wonder if that could account for part of the sticking and uneven freezing problem. The way I see it, the ice cream mix freezes to the sides of the bucket and the paddle scrapes it off in thin layers, simultaneously whipping air into the mix to keep it light and frothy. If the paddle's frozen, it might start to freeze the mix unevenly from the inside out instead of from the outside in. Someone else can correct me if I'm wrong on this though -- I've never tried it myself, or heard of it. What is your paddle made of, by the way?

          The sugar and the fat content both have a huge effect on the consistency. If you try to reduce either, you will need to make other changes to the recipe to accommodate for the difference in consistency.

          I've never tried replacing the sugar with corn syrup, but I know that a bit of corn starch makes for a smoother mouthfeel, especially if your ice cream is not custard based.

          A tablespoon or two of alcohol (vodka works well if you don't want any flavour, but there are all kinds of fun combinations) will improve the consistency and stop the ice cream from freezing into a block in the freezer. Use it sparingly, though -- too much and it will remain slush forever.

          If you're making a puree-based fruit sorbet, a teaspoon of lightly beaten egg white will give it a lighter consistency and prevent the popsicle block from forming in the freezer.

          Ice cream makers do vary from model to model. My old bucket-in-the-freezer one was prone to under freezing (although my old freezer was partly at fault). My current ice-and-salt model makes a slightly icier product and works best with mixes that contain huge quantities of eggs or a bit of corn starch (or a combination of both). I grew up with a freezer-canister-hand crank model that churned out super dense, yet creamy, ice cream.

          Once you have found a basic custard mix that works for you and your ice cream maker, you can customize it based on different flavours and recipes you find. It sounds like it may take some experimentation (you may just have a finicky ice cream maker), but that's the fun part! Once you've developed a formula, you can use it for pretty much any flavour.

          1. Try the base recipe for Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream. It is fabulous, and pretty easy too. I just made it for the first time last week because my home made ice cream attempts were epic fails.

            1. My equipment is this:
              for my Bosch Concept 7 (oh how I love my Bosch
              I have a separate dedicated upright freezer and I store the ice cream attachment there 24/7 along with the paddle. The freezing I refer to is only on the sides of the bowl, not around the paddle, almost like the bowl is ... too cold....which makes absolutely no sense.
              I will definitely give the recipe linked above a try. My ice cream is general epically bad (lol loved that phrase, epic fail), and my storage is worse.
              So, any hints for storage?

              1. I use the KA mixer attachment/bowl for ice cream, and the vanilla recipe that came in the book - it's always perfect, never grainy, always creamy. I use heavy cream, no milk, and straight sugar.