There is something about a hand cranked ice cream maker that conjures up fond memories. For me, recollections of family reunions during hot Midwest summers or cooking for 25 guests in 100 degree weather in the Grand Canyon while leading camping trips for Backroads come to mind. Even though I have a very nice ice cream maker with built in refrigeration, I bought a vintage White Mountain ice cream maker a couple years ago off eBay with the intent on using it during our annual camping trip to Yosemite. Sure, I could freeze the ice cream ahead of time and pack it with dry ice or even buy ice cream at the village store, but where is the fun in that?
Making ice cream with rock salt and ice isn’t complicated, but when I started to write out tips and advice for using one, I realized there are a lot of details worth knowing that will ensure better results. Some of the highlights of the hand cranked ice cream technique page are outlined below.
Save time and make better ice cream by pre-chilling ice cream and canister.
Like any ice cream you are going to make, pre-chill the base until it is less than 45° F before attempting to churn. This will ensure faster freezing time, resulting in smaller ice crystals and a less grainy texture. While the ice cream base is chilling, either in an ice bath or in the refrigerator, you can prepare the ice cream maker with ice and rock salt. It takes several minutes for the salt to lower the freezing/melting point of the ice, and this also gives the canister a chance to pre-chill. Place the empty canister in the bucket and begin layering ice and rock salt together, adding a fine layer of salt every 2 inches of ice. Leave about 1 inch of space between the upper layer of ice and the top of the canister. Melting ice can draw dissolved salt into the canister top via capillary action, upsetting the flavor of your ice cream.
Churn ice cream, adding ice and salt as necessary.
With everything chilled, install the dasher in the canister and pour in your ice cream. Affix the canister lid, secure the crank and gearbox to the bucket and start cranking at 1 – 2 revolutions per second. Monitor the ice level and add more ice and salt as needed, being careful to keep the ice below the height of the lid. Properly pre-chilled, you should only need to churn for 15 – 30 minutes, depending on the ambient temperature and volume of ice cream being made.
Stop churning, pile on the ice and let sit 15 minutes to firm up.
Once you or your volunteers are exhausted, stop churning and pile more ice in the bucket to completely cover the canister and lid. Sprinkle a little more salt if desired. Let the ice cream maker sit like this for another 15 minutes to let the ice cream harden.
Ready to serve.
Remove the ice and salt until the level of salt is 1 inch below the top of the canister. If you are going to serve the ice cream immediately, leave the canister in the bucket with the ice to help keep the ice cream frozen. Remove the dasher and scrape off any ice cream clinging to it into the canister. Hand the dasher to the volunteer cranker with the most endurance. If you are planning to serve the ice cream later and have access to a freezer, remove the canister and let stand for one minute. This rest should allow the dasher to extract most of the contents of the canister in a single pull (I can’t promise this for a fully loaded 6 quart model). Transfer the ice cream to a dedicated, odor-free container and place in freezer.
Time to clean up.
After washing the canister, lid and dasher in mild soap, be sure to rinse off the inside and outside of the bucket with a hose to remove any salt and prolong the life of your ice cream maker. If you made the ice cream while seated on a lawn give the spot you set the bucket a good soaking as the heavy concentration of salt will burn vegetation.
Regardless of the size of your ice cream maker, volume of ice cream batch, or how hot the weather is, following these steps will ensure you get the best results possible for the conditions you are in. Making ice cream with a hand cranked mixer is a lot of fun, especially when you involve family and friends on a nice day. Like a lot of things in life, it’s often the journey rather than the destination that is most memorable.
Detailed instructions and complete photo gallery can be found on the Hand Cranked Ice Cream technique page.