Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tips for Making the Perfect Scoop

Three years go I started making homemade ice cream and at the time I had no clue what I was doing. So of course I turned to the good old trust-worthy web and amazingly found barely any info. Interestingly that is how this blog started but today there is definitely lots of great insight and advice. At the time we figured there had to be others out there looking for tips on making ice cream so we said let's document our ice cream adventures and share it with others. We know we share many reviews and recipes but also want to make sure we share tips we pick up or learn ourselves along the way. So awhile back I found this great list of tips for making ice cream on Serious Eats that I found useful, some of which I had already discovered while making my own ice cream, specifically number 4 and 9. I live by covering my ice cream with plastic wrap to avoid to avoid ice crystals and then always, always go slow when tempering the egg yolks. I do have a couple tips of my own that I added to this great list.

10 Tips for Homemade Ice Cream Success
1. The bowls of most ice cream makers take at least 24 hours to freeze. Get in the habit of storing the bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer, wrapped tightly in a plastic bag. That way it's always ready to go.
2. The "batter" for your ice cream can never be too cold. I pour mine into an old quart-sized yogurt container and chill it in the fridge overnight.
3. Don't overfill your ice cream maker! Three-quarters full yields the best results. It might look a little empty, but trust me, if you fill the bowl up to the top, the ice cream won't aerate properly.

4. No matter what the recipe's instructions say, when tempering egg yolks for custard-based ice creams, never pour more than 3 or 4 tablespoons of hot cream into the yolks before whisking them back into the cream. And go very slowly. Nothing is worse then creating an accidental scramble.
5. As with drinking, when using alcohol as an ingredient in ice cream moderation is key. In my experience, anything more than 1/4 cup (in a recipe that yields 1 quart) interferes with the ice cream's ability to freeze.
6. Add extracts (vanilla, maple, almond, etc.) after the ice cream batter has cooled, but before churning, for the best flavor.
7. Add mix-ins, such as chocolate chips, nuts, and candy pieces, for only the last minute of churning. The ice cream should already be done. You just want to distribute the mix-ins evenly.
8. Shallow, flat containers are best for freezing and storing ice cream. While in America ice cream is usually sold in tall round containers, in Italy gelato is kept in low, rectangular ones, which promotes an even consistency.
9. To prevent ice crystals from forming, cover the surface with a layer of plastic wrap or wax paper before closing the container.
10. Homemade ice creams keep well for up to a week. After that, they begin to lose their flavor and creamy texture. Eat quickly—you can always make more!

Couple of best practices of my own...

11. Cool custard mix over an ice bath. This quickly stops the cooking process as to not overcook the custard base.

12. Invest in a set of nesting bowls. Each bowl has a use in the process and two are perfect for the ice bath process. And they store neatly too.

[Scoopalicious is celebrating National Ice Cream month with a Post-A-Day throughout the month of July!]

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