Monday, July 30, 2012

Mom’s Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

This past weekend The Picky Eater and I headed to the family farm in Missouri. It was a wonderful time filled with conversation and laughter, which culminated with my sister, Angie, my two nephews (who have grown into wonderful young men), and my sister’s sweetheart (who we were meeting for the first time) all coming to the farm for Sunday dinner.

That can only mean one thing: Time for Mom’s Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.

Mom’s ice cream is legendary amongst family and friends. No summertime meal would be complete without a bowl of creamy, cold, vanilla goodness. My 23-year-old nephew, Jared, said, “I don’t like any ice cream other than Grandma’s. I don’t like Dairy Queen or store kinds. Just Grandma’s.”
(The photo is of Jared, on the right, at his college graduation, and his brother, Nick. Aren't they handsome!)

I watched and took notes as Mom created the mixture so the recipe doesn’t disappear with time. Besides, it just didn’t seem right to let National Ice Cream Month pass without paying homage to Mom’s dessert.

The recipe is based on one Mom got with an ice cream maker years ago. She has tinkered with it, exchanging the cream for half and half in order to reduce the calorie and fat content. And the original recipe was an un-cooked custard base, but she cooks hers to ensure the mixture won’t make anyone sick...other than the stomach ache you get from eating too much!

(This is my beautiful Mom, who is also my best friend.)

Here’s the secret ingredient:

Mexican vanilla. Mom had just finished a bottle relatives brought her from a trip many, many years ago, so I bought her this bottle at the farmers market. If you don’t have Mexican vanilla, use the best pure vanilla extract you can get your hands on. (Or you could put a whole vanilla bean into the custard as it cooks, being sure to split the bean and scrape out all of those luscious vanilla seeds.)

Once the custard base is cooked, Mom puts the pan in cold water to chill to at least room temperature. Sometimes she will make it the day before and keep it in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

Then Mom pours the custard into the ice cream maker’s canister. This is when she adds another quart of half and half, plus milk to bring the mixture to the fill line. It is also the time she adds the vanilla.

The canister goes into the base, the top is snapped on, and ice fills the space between the canister and the machine’s outside wall.

My dad said the secret to freezing good ice cream is pouring plenty of rock salt on the ice.  The rock salt helps lower the temperature to make the freezing process possible.

Once the machine has done its work, the ice cream needs to go into the freezer until serving. My folks take the paddle out of the inner canister and then place the canister with its lid into the freezer since it will be served fairly quickly after it’s made. You could also put the ice cream into a container to freeze to scoop out later.

If I were to make any changes to the recipe, it would be to use cream for either half or all of the half and half. Then again, why mess with a winner!

Everyone devoured bowls of the creamy treat on top of my sister’s apple crisp. Some even skipped the crisp and concentrated just on the ice cream.

The legend of Mom’s Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream continues…
Mom’s Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

4 eggs
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 quarts half and half
2 tablespoons Mexican vanilla extract, or another high-quality pure extract
Milk, as needed to fill canister

Break the eggs into a large sauce pan. Add the sugar and beat with a hand mixer until the eggs and sugar are well combined and the mixture becomes a fluffy pale yellow. Stir in the salt and one quart of half and half. Place the sauce pan over medium heat and stir constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Place the sauce pan into an ice-water bath and cool the mixture to at least room temperature. (The mixture may be made a day in advance and refrigerated until needed.)

Pour the cooled mixture into the ice cream maker canister. Place the paddle into the canister, and then add the vanilla, the remaining half and half, and enough milk to bring the mixture up to the fill line. Rotate the paddle by hand to combine the ingredients.

Place the canister into the ice cream maker and follow the manufacture’s instructions for operation. Once the mixture sets, remove the canister from the machine and scoop the mixture into a container. Place in the freezer until ready to serve.


  1. Such a lovely post, Linda! Your mom's ice cream sounds wonderfully delicious!! A great way to celebrate National Ice Cream Month!!

  2. So fabulous that you took the time to watch and make notes. And thanks for sharing it with us. Love custard type ice creams. So interesting that the original was a no-cook. Love all the family photos.

  3. Thank you, Kathy!
    Lea Ann, I try to take notes any chance I get when a family recipe is being created. I learned my lesson when my Grandma died and took with her the recipe for her delicious noodles. I worked to recreate the dish, but it would have been nice to watch and write when I could.

  4. I am very enjoyed for this blog. Its an informative topic... home made vanilla ice cream

  5. Thank you, Joseph! It's a family favorite for me, and I hope you like it.

  6. very healthy and nice icecream !!