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Real food ice cream

When Molly was making so much milk after she first calved, she was also making plenty of cream.  After milking we usually pour the milk either straight into the cheese pot or into a collection of 2 L plastic jugs, and put these in the fridge.  When the milk is chilled, the cream rises to the top and its easy to skim the cream of the top and into another container.  Some days I could skim a cup of cream of more!  There are actually two layers of cream, the top layer is really thick (like the thickened cream you buy, but without the gelatin) and the next layer is thinner, like pouring cream, its hard to get all of the thin layer, so we always have a little cream left on top of the milk.

Ice cream! (with cake)
I love using the cream in cooking, I make a cream sauce with butter, flour, cream and stock, or put it in at the end of a casserole, but its hard to use 1 cup a day!  In the past we have made butter with the cream, but with butter being so cheap anyway (under $2 for 250g) its hardly worth the effort (although I don’t buy organic butter).  With the cream building up, I decided that I wanted to try making ice cream.

I've made ice cream once before, just making a custard (chai flavoured) and stirring it in the freezer every hour or so for an ENTIRE DAY and it still had a very icy texture.  With all this cream to use up, I wasn’t keen on repeating that process, so I was very grateful that a friend offered me a lend of her mother’s icecream machine.  It is WAY easier and quicker than my manual method (although there are better ways to make icecream without an icecream machine, such as beating the egg white and sugar, but I didn't know that at the time).  

Icecream recipes
Then came the recipe decisions.  There seem to be several options for making the ‘base’ before you even consider flavours. I prefer to know why there are so many options before I make a decision, so I did some research.  My first suspicion was that with the normal raw-egg-phobia, most recipes seemed to involve either cooking the egg or leaving out the egg all together.  As I was going to use raw milk and cream, I wasn’t worried about using raw egg, as recommended by Nourishing Traditions, but then I found some sites that explained that the cooked egg actually improves the texture of the ice cream.  My other problem was that at this time of year (autumn) we don’t actually have many eggs to spare, so I was wondering if the egg could actually be left out without affecting the taste and texture.  I was also interested in trying a recipe with less cream (as we always have more milk than cream) and this is basically gelato rather than icecream.  And I wanted to try the recipe from the Sweet Poison Quit Plan, which uses dextrose instead of sugar, just to see how it compared.
I decided that I'd better test all the recipes so that I could find out whether egg content was important, and how much difference the cream to milk ratio made to the texture.  My aim was to find the easiest recipe that still tasted good.  I also wanted to know if I could leave things out (when we don't have them, or if they take longer) without affecting the taste.  Testing lots of homemade icecream is just one of the difficult things I have to go through to bring you great real food recipes!

These are the six options that I tested:
  1. raw egg
  2. cooked egg (custard)
  3. no egg (as per icecream machine recipe book)
  4. gelato - less cream  
  5. dextrose instead of sugar
  6. more eggs (raw) – Nourishing Traditions
The base recipe
1 cup of milk, 2 eggs, half a cup of rapadura (evaporated cane juice), 2 cups of cream, 1 Tbs of vanilla essence and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  

For option 1, I just mixed all the ingredients and put them in the icecream machine.  For option 2 I made a custard from the first 3 ingredients and let that chill overnight before making the icecream.  For option 3 I left out the eggs and put the raw milk and cream straight into the icecream machine.  For option 4 I used 2 cups of milk and 1 cup of cream and made a custard. For option 5 I used 3/4 cup of dextrose instead of rapadura and made a custard.  For the final option, I used 4 raw eggs (NT recommends 3 eggs), just to see what difference the eggs really made.

The results
First, I should say that all the ice creams were delicious, if you like cream and vanilla, you will like homemade icecream.  I enjoyed all of the different mixtures, eating them plain, with chocolate sauce or with frozen passionfruit pulp.  Some of them were denser than others, some were icier, but all were delicious.
I was surprised to find that option 2 (the custard ice cream) actually whipped up better in the machine than the uncooked options.  This was a disappointment because it was the most complicated recipe and I was really hoping that it wouldn't be the best one!  The second fluffiest icecream was the last option, with all the extra eggs.  

The best real food option
Of course there is never a best option, so there is a discussion….

If you have a cow, homemade icecream is an obvious way to use up the extra cream you will have when your cow first calves.  It’s a way of saving the cream for later (if you can control yourself), if you can't be bothered making butter.  Making the icecream from fresh raw milk and cream, organic rapadura, honey or maple syrup, and raw free-range eggs is the most nutritious option.  Using raw eggs (if you have them) rather than custard, is quicker, and will keep more of the nutrients in the milk and eggs.

However, due to the sugar content, icecream should be a treat, not an every day food.  If you’re on a totally sugar free diet (and I’m not) the dextrose icecream is a good option (see Sweet Poison).  I didn’t try dextrose with raw eggs, but I imagine it would be much the same.  I know this is weird, but I actually found the dextrose too sweet!  Its supposed to be less sweet than sugar, but I’m so used to using rapadura (and usually only half what the recipe requires) I think I’ve reduced my tolerance for sweetness.  I would reduce the dextrose content if I used it again.  I’m torn really between rapadura, which is condensed cane juice and full of minerals (but also half fructose), and the refined dextrose, which is pure glucose with no other nutrients.  I just bought 5 kg of organic rapadura, so I guess that tells you which one I prefer to use!  *only use dextrose if you're 100% sugar-free diet, see Sweet Poison for more details*

If you don’t have a cow, homemade icecream made from bought organic cream, milk and eggs is still better for you than bought icecream.  I’m not sure if it would be any cheaper, it would depend which brands you bought, but I think its one of those cases where the cheapest icecream option is not worth eating and it would be better to eat less icecream with better ingredients.  Apart from the obvious artificial colours and flavours, commercial icecream is also full of other chemicals to keep it fluffy, things like stabilisers and emulsifiers.  The really cheap brands also use inferior substitutes for egg and vanilla, you’re lucky that a certain milk fat content is required to call it icecream in Australia, otherwise they’d probably skimp on that too.  

If you are buying icecream, read the ingredients list and if there’s anything on that list that you don’t keep in your own kitchen, don’t buy it!  We haven’t bought bulk icecream for several years now because I couldn’t find a brand that used acceptable ingredients (I have eaten the occasional single-serve icecream in the meantime though!).  The worst part of not buying icecream is the lack of icecream containers.... you don't realise how useful they are until you don't have a constant supply of them!

Final words of advice
My recommendation is to use what you have.  If you have plenty of cream, use it, otherwise substitute milk.  If you have plenty of eggs, throw them in the mix, cooked or uncooked, and you will get a fluffier (and more nutritious) ice cream.  Don’t buy anything with ingredients that you don’t recognise. And don't eat too much icecream :)  Beg, borrow or buy an icecream machine if you have lots of cream to use, because making large amounts of icecream is hard work by hand!

Have you tried making icecream?  Any tips? recipes? other ideas?


  1. We make the custard version. My fav is adding some marmalade into it.

  2. Yes I make a raw version (although I can't eat this now as you can't have raw egg while pregnant) 2 eggs beaten until light and fluffy with 3/4 cup sugar (this can be reduced as it is sweet, but the sugar stops the ice-cream from crystallising id being stored for a long period of time, I would suggest using an acidic fruit as the flavouring in this recipe to cut through such as blackberries which are pureed and rippled through at the end and then placed in the freezer to set for another couple of hours after the cream base has been put through the machine) And then stir in 2 cups of cream and 1 cup of milk and put in ice-cream machine and follow directions.

  3. We have made home made ice cream. We have to buy our cream though, as one of the drawbacks of having a milking goat is that goat milk is already homogenised when it comes out.We used the cooked egg custard method and a surplus of was beautiful. Like you , I am horrified by the ingredients in bought icecream.

  4. What a fun experiment! I've never had much luck making custard base ice cream. Mine always ends up grainy. My base recipe is now one from Ben and Jerrys. It uses milk, cream and raw eggs. I like that it doesn't use heaps of eggs either. It's a great base and you can add all sorts of things to it. Here's my Peanut Butter Oreo Version.

  5. haha...just looking at the other comments, I think Nathalie uses the same recipe I do!

  6. There's only one thing worse than not having an icream maker, and that's having a bad one! Mine is lousy, but I keep trying. Have heaps of cream at the moment, so tonight I made two - a plain vanilla (Rapdura, vanilla, 1/2cup milk, 2eggyolks, 2 cups cream -all raw) and my favorite.....2 cups frozen berries (mango has run out, but it's better!), 1 cup yoghurt, 1 cup cream - blitz the lot in thermie (or a food processor) and pop in the freezer to firm up. I'm also too busy to muck about making a custard base first!

  7. Wow! That is amazing to me that you do all of this from animals on your farm! I have always watched what I ate but for the wrong reasons (trying to be thin). I'm now learning how to eat healthy and have been cutting processed food out of my diet and the diet of my family. I am a long way from where you are though! I'm doing good to just buy organic milk and know the difference between it and the "regular" stuff. LOL. Very much enjoyed reading your post!
    I'm visiting from From the Farm Blog Hop. My post is for GF, Vegan Choc Brownie Bites. Here's the link: I hope you'll stop by!

  8. These are some things we know about ice-cream:
    More milk means harder and more crystalline structure than those with more cream.
    No egg whites (save (or freeze) those for your meringue or feed them to the dogs)
    sugar controls softness
    too much sugar won't freeze
    too little sugar and it needs an axe to cut

    We use this recipe (from the Sunbeam Ice-cream making Machine book) with excellent success:

    4 egg yolks, raw
    125g dextrose
    200ml raw cream
    200ml raw milk
    Beat raw eggs and dextrose together until the eggs are pale. Then add the cream and milk and beat together using your electric mixer. You will have to stop the machine and, using a spatula, ensure all the thick egg/dextrose base is mixed in. Whip all this until it is fairly light and fluffy (a couple of minutes) . To hasten the final ice cream mixing stage, put this mixture, in its bowl, into the freezer for about 1.5 hours.
    After this time has elapsed, set up your ice cream machine, get the mixture out of the freezer and whip it again using your electric mixer until it is light and fluffy. Then pour this mixture into your ice cream machine and churn.
    Once it is finished churning, this will depend on how your machine works, pour straight into your container and freeze.
    We have never had a problem using this method (we have a Sunbeam Ice Cream machine). We find this recipe makes a delicious rich ice cream. You can just add any flavourings or ingredients you want to this. We have added 1. honey and Cinnamon, 2. organic green tea powder, sometimes called Matcha and 3. pureed fruit...

    This recipe is easier than the custard based recipe, it's richer, more delicious and has better texture than the custard based and is more nutritious because nothing is cooked. This recipe is so nice that you will have no problem sacrificing eggs although we tend to make it in the warmer months when eggs are more plentiful and a cold dessert is better appreciated.

    And with Butter we have moved away from making normal sweet butter to making cultured butter with our excess cream. We have a lot of cream as we skim the raw milk before bottling for drinking milk and most of our cheeses (Fetta, Halloumi, Parmesan, Cheddar, Harvati etc) and our yoghurt is all made with skimmed milk. The exception being double and triple cream Camembert, Roquefort and a few others that really need the cream to make it taste just right.

  9. Thanks for sharing!

    Please join us again Thursday at:
    The HomeAcre Hop



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