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Homemade Ice Cream Troubleshooting

Hi! I have a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker that I bought from Costco and have tried making homemade ice cream twice now (first time was a horrible error) and the second time I followed a recipe and it turned out okay for the most part, but I noticed small bits of wax/fat that my sister deemed utterly unacceptable (esp. as it left a waxy film on the roof of our mouths and tongue). I was wondering if this was a result of the recipe (ingredients and/or method)? Also, is there was a way to better 'homogenize' (or avoid the formation of the bits of fat in) homemade ice cream? Has anyone else come across this problem?

Ingredients I used:
200 mL Oberweis (homogenized) Whole Milk
100 mL Trader Joes Heavy Whipping Cream (recipe called for 36% fat Whipping Cream, but I couldnt find anything that specifically labeled the cream as such)
Brown Sugar
Matcha Tea

Methods (very briefly):
Whip the cream until firm
Add milk/sugar/tea mixture and stir lightly
Add to ice cream maker

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  1. My first thought is that the cream is over whipped. If you whip it to firm peaks, then churn in the ice cream maker, it's possible that small bits of butter have started to form.

    1. You over-churned your mix and got butter. Never pre-whip your cream because you're already halfway there.

      Heating the mix will help because that helps denature the proteins to avoid this. Adding eggs and making French-style (custard based) will also help avoid this. Chilling the mix to near-freezing before churning helps as well.

      25 Replies
      1. re: acgold7

        By "over-churned", do you mean in the ice cream maker?

        Ice cream maker manufacturer's instructions says to allow machine to run for 20-30 min. I only allowed it to run for 15 min before consuming.

        Custard based ice creams are a little too complicated for me as of current, plus I don't have a thermometer (T_T), although I do hope to try them in the far future..

        I may try skipping the initial cream whipping step tonight.. (I'm hesitant to go all out on experimenting, as Matcha tea is (REALLY) expensive.. not to mention the cost and waste of milk and especially heavy cream, which is why I wanted to ask Chowhound first because you guys are so wonderful <3).

        1. re: MsJunsu

          Yes, overchurned in the icecream maker. You don't need to whip the cream, just pour it in with other ingredients. It adds richness. If you don't want to waste your tea, try it with something simple like vanilla.

          1. re: arashall

            Actually, I'm trying to convince my sister to keep the ice cream maker (instead of returning it) and she loves green tea ice cream so I'm hoping that with really good homemade green tea ice cream, i'll be able to convince her to keep the maker xD

            Would adding the mixture very slowly into the ice cream maker help? If I take the ice cream out too soon, it's too watery.. which is why I usually leave it until the recommended time (I've tried putting left over ice cream in the freezer but it ended up rock hard). Would using half & half make any difference (if I adjusted the recipe so that there's still a 1:2 ratio of cream to milk)?

            1. re: MsJunsu

              Would adding the mixture very slowly into the ice cream maker help? No.

              You are freezing the canister overnight in a 0F freezer, as the instrctions mandate, yes? If it freezes slowly with a lot of churning, that can make butter too.

              Would using half & half make any difference (if I adjusted the recipe so that there's still a 1:2 ratio of cream to milk)? Depends how rich you want it. Superpremiums are about 18% milkfat. A 1:1 ratio of heavy (36%) cream to whole (4%) milk would give you about 20% if you are using no other liquid and would contribute to your butter problem. A 1:2 ratio of cream to milk puts you around 14% which is a little low but shouldn't be a problem. Supermarket Half & Half, at least in the States, is 10.5%, which just barely meets the legal standard for Ice Cream if I am remembering correctly, even if you use it straight with no milk.

              Are you using actual liquid tea or tea powder?

              1. re: acgold7

                Yes, I just store the ice cream canister in my freezer.

                Hmm... I had erringly assumed milkfat content of half & half would be in the 15% range (or simply just 1:1 ratio of heavy cream and milk).

                I am using tea powder.

                1. re: MsJunsu

                  What is the temperature of your freezer? You need a thermometer there too. If it is not zero or below that is your other problem. If it is a regular kitchen freezer it likely is not.

                  1. re: acgold7

                    Oh POOP. *sigh* I'll have to figure this out first, then, i guess. Thanks for this tidbit (as well as all your wonderful suggestions and information - really.)

                    1. re: MsJunsu

                      Really, I don't think you need all this fuss with thermometers. I just keep my canister in the freezer and it works great everytime...no matter where I've lived and the freezer I've used. You've simply overchurned and have butter bits in there. I have never seen a recipe that calls for whipping the cream.

                      Here is a primer on the basics:
                      http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2008/06...

                      And regarding custard-based, you don't need a thermometer for that either. But if you don't want to fuss with tempering the eggs, you can still enjoy great ice cream!!!! Don't give up!!! :)

                  2. re: MsJunsu

                    I use 2:1 ratio of cream to milk. If I'm really feeling decadent, I use half and half instead of the milk. Yum! But...don't whip it, just stir it together and dump it in the ice cream maker.

                2. re: MsJunsu

                  Try adding a Tablespoon of vodka to your mix to prevent over-hardening in the freezer.

                3. re: arashall

                  Exactly. By whipping it you essentially churned it before putting it in the ice cream maker so you were doomed from the start. Whipped recipes are usually meant for those who don't have ice cream makers.

                  I understand not wanting to waste money, but the rule is usually that you can have it good or cheap, but not both. You should start with something simple like a fruit-based mix or chocolate (not vanilla, as it's one of the hardest flavors to get perfect, texture wise). French style my seem more complicated, but there's a reason it's more popular -- it's a more consistent product and easier to get right. Once you build your custard it's almost impossible to turn it into butter.

                  You need to perfect your technique first, before you start messing around with expensive flavorings.

                4. re: MsJunsu

                  "Custard based ice creams are a little too complicated for me as of current, plus I don't have a thermometer (T_T), although I do hope to try them in the far future.."

                  They are very simple really. I have never used a thermometer in my life when making a custard, and I have made countless batches of ice cream; all successes. What do you find so complicated about them MsJunsu?

                  1. re: mangiare24

                    Well, I've looked at a ton of ice cream recipes, and a lot of the custard based recipes insist on using a thermometer - and if not, then being able to distinguish when to take the mixture off the heat (if i'm remembering correctly; i have a tendency to delete unnecessary/irrelevant info -.-). Unfortunately, I do not consider myself experienced enough to be able to tell such differences with the naked eye and with old, cheap pans, an old stove, uneven heating (even with constant stirring), etc, i'm afraid to get a scrambled-egg/overcooked/whatever-disaster-you-can-think-of mixture. And considering money's tight and food just jumped up in price.. I'm hesitant to venture into custard based ice creams..

                    [I am a scientist by nature, so you'll have to excuse any excessive (perhaps a little pessimistic) fretting/attention to detail]

                    1. re: MsJunsu

                      I make ice cream a lot with the cuisinart model you've got -- custard ice cream is a must. With inexpensive home equipment you're always going to be fighting a losing battle with texture and eggs will go a long way toward fixing that. I'd recommend looking at Mark Bitmann's How to Cook Everything recipe. Ice cream recipes shouldn't be complicated. Basically you just need a simple technique for heating the cream and egg to a custard (coats the back of a spoon). I have never used a thermometer, but trust me, making ice cream at home without eggs is a recipe for something that isn't really ice cream.

                        1. re: Becca Porter

                          Yes, and they are apparently delicious, but she adds a lot of junk to serve as stabilizers and emulsifiers. Natural junk, but junk nonetheless.

                          1. re: acgold7

                            I am totally cool with about 1 1/2 oz of cream cheese (high in casein proteins) helping to bind the ingredients and give the ice cream body. It doesn't cloud the flavor like egg yolks do.

                            The 2 tablespoons of tapioca syrup and starch doesn't bother me a bit either. The proof is in the texture and flavor. I can't imagine why they would be considered junk? Is it because it is a little more revolutionary than the old standby recipes?

                            1. re: Becca Porter

                              No, I have nothing against any of that, and if the proof is in the texture and flavor, then there's nothing wrong with polysorbate 60 and 80, mono and diglycerides, nonfat dry milk solids, guar gum, locust bean gum, xanthan gum, carrageenan, corn syrup, corn starch, HFCS and other stabilizers and emulsifiers, some of which Jeni uses and many of which are used by others, including Ben & Jerry's, and are already included in the cream you buy at most Supermarkets unless you buy strictly organic -- and then you won't get a very good texture.

                              But I always assume most people make their own to avoid a lot of this stuff. Me, I have no problem with it, especially since I discovered how much these things improved the texture of the end result and how most of them were completely natural.

                              Of course, Haagen Dazs contains none of these things. Hm.

                              I do think it's interesting that when a small purveyor adds corn starch to a product someone likes, it's revolutionary, but when a big purveyor adds corn starch to cheese, suddenly it no longer qualifies as cheese and it's scary Frankenfood.

                              1. re: Becca Porter

                                I have to say I was a bit dubious when I first saw Jeni's ingredient list, but as I've never been happy with my results from other IC recipes (I have several books on the subject), I gave it a whirl. Several batches and flavor combinations later, I am completely sold.

                          2. re: Mandymac

                            My version of How to Cook Everything has a major technique editing error in the vanilla ice cream recipe. I do NOT recommend the original poster use that as a resource. I've generally found How to Cook Everything is much better for savory food than sweet--for another example, good old lemon meringue has 3 x more corn starch than it should. Yuck.

                            1. re: SteveG

                              Tomes that large are frequently not tested/edited/proofread as thoroughly as they should be, in my experience.

                              1. re: SteveG

                                What's the error and what's the fix?

                              2. re: Mandymac

                                CHOW's Leena Trivedi-Grenier recently weighed in on the with or without eggs question. Check out the write-up she did here: http://www.chow.com/food-news/151606/...

                            2. re: mangiare24

                              Oh wait - I'm looking at one custard-based recipe I had saved and I think the tempering part may have scared me off.. eheh

                              1. re: MsJunsu

                                Tempering is really easy and fun (at least for me!)

                                You don't need a thermometer. Heat your milk and cream over a slow flame, meanwhile whip the egg yolks and sugar until they become a lovely pale yellow. Your milk should not boil, but when small bubbles begin forming on the sides, grab about half a cup and slowly add it to the egg mixture while blending it (whisk, hand blender, KitchenAid, whatever rocks your boat) and once you have heated the egg mixture, you can add it to your pot of milk slowly, and blending the contents of the pot continuously. Let it cook for about five to ten minutes until it coats the back of a spoon and it's not runny.

                                It's really, really easy and you don't need anything fancier than a pot, a fire, a whisk and a bowl. Just remember: low heat and slow pouring, blending continuously.

                        2. No point whatsoever in whipping the cream. I'm also not a big fan of brown sugar in ice cream. I agree that heating helps (certainly with respect to dissolving the sugar). Then chill the mixture to get it as cold as possible before adding to the machine.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ferret

                            I don't heat my mix (and don't use eggs either). I make it in the evening and leave it in the fridge over night. That way the sugar dissolves and it's nice and cold the next morning when I make the ice cream. Any mix ins that I add during the churn are also well-refrigerated.

                          2. I have one of those makers, too. I love it. The advice to NOT whip the cream first is good. Also, maybe you went *too* firm and made almost butter as has been noted above.

                            Before putting custard or any ice cream mix in the machine, chill it first. I do mine in the fridge, but a quick trip in the freezer is ok, too. I found that, at least for me, the machine did not get the mixture solid enough unless it was chilled first.

                            1. I have never heard of making ice cream from whipped cream.

                              1. If you're afraid of cooked custard, but not afraid of raw eggs, you can skip the cooking. My Mother made ice cream this way for our whole lives and never killed anybody (she started with a dozen eggs and a gallon of milk, for a big old hand-crank). The recipe does not have to be precise. Whisk 3-4 eggs with a cup or so of sugar. Stir in your cream and/or milk to the volume you need (perhaps a pint of cream and 2 cups of milk). Add vanilla, cocoa, whatever, and pour the chilled mixture into your machine. I think if you give yourself some freedom to experiment before you tackle the fancy flavors, you find what works. And if it's not perfect, it's generally still yummy!

                                1. Sometimes it's an issue of butterfat percentage that leads to a weird mouth feel and an almost waxy-residue coating on the roof of my mouth or spoon. However, I also agree with the masses about this potentially being caused by the pre-whipping of the cream.

                                  I own 2 of the same Cuisinart ice cream makers and love them! Ice cream recipes vary tremendously, and I have stumbled upon some really good sounding ones whose proportions of ingredients or technique were off and produced mediocre ice cream.

                                  I highly recommend David Lebovitz's ice cream book The Perfect Scoop. The title does not lie. He talks you through the custard technique and there are several recipes that require no cooking as well. Every single recipe I have made has turned out epic.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: BecaC

                                    I love David Lebovitz' book, but have had trouble with my ice cream leaving a buttery/greasy taste in the mouth. I am now playing around with one of his recipes, varying the proportions of whole milk to heavy cream, and occasionally replacing the heavy cream (35%) with coffee cream (18%). I assume it's the percentage of milkfat that has been altering the 'mouth feel' of the finished product. I use a Kitchenaid mixer with the ice cream bowl and attachment.

                                  2. +1 on David Lebovitz. I can't think of a recipe from Perfect Scoop that requires a thermometer. I just follow his recipes to the letter and have always had good results.

                                    1. Did your ice cream maker come with a recipe book? I would suggest trying a recipe straight from that. I have the KitchenAid version and the recipes from the booklet that came with it are the only ice cream recipes I use. I too have never heard of making ice cream with whipped cream, only whipping cream.

                                      1. I make simple ice creams with instant pudding mix, milk and cream.

                                        I just mix a packet of instant pudding with a cup of milk and and then add 2 cups of cream.
                                        Pistachio is my favorite pudding ice cream flavor right now.
                                        No cooking, no custard, no eggs.

                                        I also add a couple tbsps of coconut rum but my ice cream still turns out like a rock.
                                        Could be my freezer is set really low.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Sparklebright

                                          Possibly. Ice cream needs to cure at zero but scoop at about 10 or 15F.

                                          Also, you may not be getting enough overrun. What Ice Cream maker are you using?