Making ice cream is not very complicated, and luckily most of the necessary equipment will already be in a well-stocked kitchen.
The exception to that, of course, is the ice cream maker. There are two main options to go with that I know of. The first, which I have no experience with, is the stand-alone ice cream maker. This is a single use device that literally just makes ice cream. They list at about $100 to $150. Cooks Illustrated likes the Cuisinart Automatic Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker. That means it’s probably pretty good, given how rigorous they are with their testing.
Interestingly, in the same review Cooks Illustrated was less sanguine about the KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment. This is the second option: using an attachment for an existing machine. CI didn’t like the airiness in the finished product. This is referred to as “overrun” — the higher the overrun percentage, the more air in the ice cream, which means a lighter texture. (This is the first hint of science that we’re going to get into, so gird your loins if that’s something scary for you.) I don’t mind non-dense ice cream, and I’ve never found my KitchenAid manufactured ice cream to be too light, so this hasn’t bothered me. Frankly, if you want more of a gelato-like texture, that can be arranged (stay tuned for the post on churning and chilling). I like the KitchenAid attachment because I already had a standing mixer, so it was less of a financial investment.* I also don’t really like single-use devices, as I find them to be unversatile. Why buy an appliance that can only do one thing? It’s like buying a massive home espresso machine. Totally not worth it.
At any rate, I love my KitchenAid attachment, I’ve used it for years without complaints, and it’s pretty easy to use. You do need to chill it in the freezer for fifteen hours before using, in order for the chemical between the walls to get properly chilled, but I just store mine in the freezer.
The other supplies you’ll need are a lot simpler:
- A large mesh strainer, to strain the custard before chilling and remove small egg bits.
- A heavy pot to heat and whisk the custard.
- Two whisks — one large, one small — are necessary. You can get away with one large one if necessary.
- A large bowl with a lid. Two are nice, if you have them.
- A small prep bowl.
- A ladle.
- An egg separator is really useful. If you don’t have one, you can use the shells of the egg, but the separator makes life so much easier, especially once you get good at using it. The one I have is no longer in production, but you can find them easily online.
- Cup and teaspoon measures.
- A microplane is nice, for zesting.
- Similarly, an immersion blender for fruit ice creams. A regular blender will also do.
- A rubber spatula. This will help tell you when the custard is cooked, as we’ll discuss in the next post.
* In the interests of transparency, I actually didn’t buy my KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment. I bought my standing mixer just before I started law school, and my mom, who also cooks a lot and from whom I learned everything (culinary or otherwise), bought one too in a sort of “Keeping Up with the GHs” mindset. When she bought hers the store gave her the Ice Cream Maker for free, but because my parents don’t really have a sweet tooth, I took it from her — with permission, of course.