Homemade ice cream flavors are limited only by the imaginationAmericans bought 1.53 billion gallons of ice cream and other frozen desserts in 2011, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, and Leslie Paterson of Madison has long done her part to support the industry.
By: By Chris Martell, The Wisconsin State Journal, Superior Telegram
Americans bought 1.53 billion gallons of ice cream and other frozen desserts in 2011, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, and Leslie Paterson of Madison has long done her part to support the industry.
"I've been eating ice cream almost every day of my life," she said. "It's a ritual for me."
But things changed for Paterson when she became more focused on ice cream ingredient lists.
"I was horrified by all the preservatives and chemicals," she said. "I am careful about what I eat, and I usually buy organics."
Paterson wasn't about to give up one of her favorite foods, however. Instead, she found another solution: "I decided to start making my own ice cream."
She bought an electric ice cream freezer and has been making her own for about a year. She's a purist who seldom strays from vanilla, focusing on fresh and healthy.
Keith Lepinski and Jessica Light prefer variety. The hand-crank ice cream maker they bought at an antiques store for $17 two years ago provides endless opportunities for creativity in the kitchen. In addition to ice cream, they make custards, gelatos, sorbets and frozen yogurt.
"It takes about 20 minutes of cranking, and it's good exercise," Lepinski said.
Every ingredient is fair game for the frozen desserts they make, he added. "We look at what's at the farmers' market."
A recent concoction was basil custard. Earlier this season they made asparagus ice cream, based on a recipe printed in 1903 in Auguste Escoffier's "A Guide to Modern Cookery."
"It tasted like a sweet hollandaise sauce," said Lepinski, an artist who works at Orange Tree Imports.
Although trendy flavors like bacon ice cream are getting attention, savory ice creams are nothing new. They're as old as ice cream itself.
The Roman emperor Nero had ice brought from mountains to mix with cream, and early trade with China introduced Europeans -- who were already fond of non-frozen custards and creams -- to "iced" cream. At the time, ice cream was made with just about anything: tea, anise seed, chervil, tarragon, celery, parsley, musk, amber and even rye bread. Brown bread ice cream was a favorite in England.
Thomas Jefferson is credited with bringing the recipe for ice cream to the U.S., when he returned home after being the first ambassador to France.
The problem, of course, was that refrigeration hadn't been invented when ice cream initially became popular. Much tinkering was required to figure out freezing techniques, draining and storage.
Since those issues were sorted out centuries ago, making ice cream is now fairly foolproof, even with a hand-crank device. Lepinski often improvises on recipes found in "The Perfect Scoop," by David Lebovitz.
Electric ice cream makers, which range in price from under $30 to $500, make the process almost effortless. Instead of combining salt and ice to freeze the cream mixture, most modern electric appliances use a reusable coolant piece.
Things to keep in mind when making frozen desserts, Lepinski said, is that when things are cold they are harder to taste. "So you should over-sweeten and over-flavor them."
He also recommends adding liqueur, like kirsch or triple sec, or brandy. "That makes the texture smoother, and gives a depth of flavor. Play around. There's a full range of options."
And making ice cream is just plain enjoyable, he added.
"You don't really save any money making it yourself," he said. "But it's a lot more fun than just going out and buying a tub."
(c)2012 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)
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