One of the joys of life is home made ice cream. This past spring, I decided to get an ice cream machine. We have friends with preschoolers who were coming over for dinner quite often, and I could imagine using an ice cream maker with the kids. Of course, I thought I’d use it a lot more than that too! Like when an active 20-something friend lived with us for several weeks.
So off I went to Amazon.com, where I read reviews and put a couple of things on my wish list. Then I realized I already had something I could use to make ice cream: my old and reliable Vita Mix blender. So I pulled out the manual and did some reading. Pretty soon I was making my first batch. It turned out great, and we’ve had dozens of delicious batches since then. I think it’s better than any ice cream maker because if you do a tiny bit of preparation in advance, you can whip out your home made ice cream literally in about 2 minutes. I frequently do it shortly after dinner when we have guests.
A Vita Mix blender is a larger investment than an ice cream maker, but it does a gazillion other things too… more about that later. Now for how I do this:
1. Beforehand, freeze ice cubes of milk, half and half, soymilk, and/or ice. I keep a couple of trays going in my freezer, most often with low fat milk. Coconut milk is another favorite in our house, and it’s very good for you. I like to thaw the trays a little when I am in the kitchen anyway, and then I put the cubes in plastic bags in the freezer all ready to go. It doesn’t matter if the cubes stick to each other, as you can hit the bag on the counter and they will break apart enough. I fill the trays up again (without washing them) and pop them back in the freezer.
2. Also beforehand, be sure you have the ingredients you will need:
Sugar, honey, or other sweeteners
Vanilla for vanilla ice cream, or chocolate powder for chocolate
Fruit, frozen or fresh
3. When you’re ready for ice cream, put your ingredients in the Vita Mix blender. Here is one of my favorite recipes:
1 cup low-fat milk, refrigerator temperature
2 cups frozen blueberries
2 cups frozen ice cubes, made of milk or whatever I’ve got in the freezer
1/2 cup sugar
4. With the lid on securely, and the tamper in place through the middle of the lid, warn anyone around that you are about to make some very loud noise. (Ice cream machines make a loud noise for maybe 20 minutes! Having pre-frozen ingredients is the secret to this fast process.) Then turn the blender on to high. Keep pushing with the tamper until everything in the container seems to be about the same color and texture, pretty much like a soft-serve ice cream. Spoon into dishes and enjoy. Makes about 4 servings… depending on the people!
You can vary this recipe in any number of ways. The key things to remember are that you want a ratio of 4 parts frozen to 1 part refrigerator temperature, and that the Vita Mix is going to be working very hard so you can’t fill it all the way. If you use less frozen in relation to refrigerator temperature, you end up with a nice thick milkshake. Either enjoy it that way or add more frozen. You can make this as a sorbet by just using ice made from water.
What if you don’t have a Vita Mix blender? DON’T try this with any other blender! Most normal blenders can’t crush ice. There may be some other brands of heavy duty blenders that can, but I’m not familiar with them. I’d suggest you consider getting a Vita Mix blender, sooner or later — the lowest price ones are around $400, but sometimes you can get a great deal at a yard sale or thrift store. We have had ours since 2002, and we use it constantly — for ordinary blender tasks, now for home made ice cream, and also for making peanut butter and grinding wheat berries and other grains for fresh flour.
So we are eating more ice cream, but it is more delicious and healthier (not to mention cheaper) than the store stuff. And the range of exotic flavors we invent is great. Mangos are fabulous. Chocolate-peach was a favorite. You get the idea!