Kleinpeter’s ice cream? Gone.
Blue Bell? Bit the dust, at least temporarily.
K&B’s paper gallons are relegated to history, as are those blue-and-red cartons of Brown’s Velvet Creole Cream Cheese.
Now might be a good time to consider making your own.
There are basically two types of ice cream mixtures, cooked custard (French/Italian style) and non cooked (American style). Cooked custard is the creamiest, and is made by carefully heating milk, cream, sugar and eggs. The protein in egg yolks makes the custard smooth, and it gives the ice cream a longer freezer shelf life. Sugar and alcohol, too, affect texture by lowering the freezing point, and they make ice cream softer.
It’s important that cooked custard be cooled completely before churning. The science behind this step is that ice crystals formed in cold liquid are shorter and, therefore, less icy.
Non cooked ice cream contains less fat and no eggs, and it can be put together in a jiffy. And heavy cream, whole milk and even low-fat milk work fine for this method. The secret to making super-smooth American-style ice cream is to use condensed milk, which has less water than milk or cream, and it makes those coveted short ice crystals.
Got your method? Good. Now for the freezer.
When deciding on an ice cream freezer, you might opt for the old-fashioned wooden hand-crank type, the kind with a steel interior canister surrounded by salted ice. Just be prepared to manually turn the handle 20 minutes — which might actually be a good way to keep the kids occupied this summer. Crank freezers also come in electric, and because some models hold up to six quarts, they’re good for feeding crowds.
If you have big bucks and a lot of storage space, consider a professional-style electric freezer, the kind that uses electricity to cool the custard. Or you might buy a gelato maker, which freezes just about any regular custard at a warmer temperature and injects less air, making ice cream that’s rich and thick.
My 20-year-old ice cream maker is a more affordable pre-freeze bowl that fits over an electric motor base. Some freezer ice cream bowls are made to attach to a stand mixer. These types hold about 1½ quarts and make soft ice cream that’s best with additional freezing.
A big downside is that, before using, the bowl must be frozen solid. That usually takes 24 hours, but I solve that problem by storing mine in the freezer. And in these woeful times of losing so many commercially made ice creams, during the next few months that trusty bowl will be getting an extra workout.
Cynthia Nobles is editor of the LSU Press “Southern Table” series of cookbooks. She is also author of “The Delta Queen Cookbook,” and “A Confederacy of Dunces Cookbook” (forthcoming, fall 2015). She can be reached at email@example.com.