You may have noticed that I love to celebrate special days and months throughout the year, having used this space before to call your attention to everything from National Adopt a Cat Month to National Tapioca Pudding Day.
I guess it's only fitting that ice cream - one of greatest inventions of all time - has not only a specific day set aside in its honor (the third Sunday in July), but an entire month - July - designated as National Ice Cream Month. That's right: In 1984, President Reagan felt so strongly about the importance of ice cream that he designated both a day as well as a month for its celebration.
There's nothing better than a big batch of homemade ice cream, hand cranked using an old fashioned ice cream maker and rock salt. Making it yourself can also be cheap family fun, even though it takes time and some pretty substantial elbow grease. Plus it requires a fairly pricey ice cream maker, an appliance you might not use often enough to make it cost-effective.
So here's a quicker, easier, cheaper way to make your own ice cream, using - of all things - plastic bags:
- Seal two cups of your favorite ice cream mix recipe in a one-QUART plastic zippered bag, making sure there's no air trapped in the bag. There are many delicious and simple recipes available online for homemade ice cream. Most involve some combination of cream, milk (fresh, condensed, and/or evaporated, depending on the recipe), eggs, sugar, flavoring and other ingredients, from chocolate bits and nuts, to fresh fruit and espresso - the sky's the limit. Chill the mix overnight in the refrigerator. (NOTE: Since this method involves making ice cream in fairly small batches, you might want to make and chill multiple baggies of ice cream mix at the same time and repeat the process to yield the desired amount of final product.)
- Next, fill a one-GALLON plastic zippered bag half full with crushed ice, and mix one-half cup of kosher salt into the crushed ice.
- Place the smaller bag of ice cream mix inside the larger bag with the ice and salt in it, making sure the smaller bag is surrounded by ice. Seal the one gallon bag tightly; you might want to even place it inside a third bag, like plastic grocery bag, just to be safe and prevent a possible mess during the next step.
- Now, shake the bag(s) enthusiastically for five to 10 minutes. That's right, shake your ice cream thang! Shake it like a bartender shaking a martini shaker. The shaking action with the ice and the salt will super chill the ice cream mixture in the inside bag like magic. The longer you shake it, the firmer the ice cream inside.
- Carefully remove the bag with the ice cream in it, and rinse it off with very cold water to remove any salt from the outside of the bag. Unseal the bag, and enjoy some tasty homemade ice cream.
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