Yay! You’ve finally made your first batch of ice cream. But how come it’s all hard and gritty? And it doesn’t taste delicious as it should be. Nope, your ice cream machine may not be the cause. And don’t throw away that great ice cream recipe just yet. Here are some homemade ice cream problems and solutions to avoid them.
Rock-Hard Ice Cream
So, after putting your churned ice cream in the freezer for a couple of hours, you’re ready for a scoop only to find out it’s now a frozen block. Well, homemade ice cream lacks the extra ingredients that commercial ones have, making it freeze harder. But we have a few secrets of our own to make your dessert easier to scoop:
- Add alcohol. A few tablespoons of rum, bourbon or coffee liqueur to your ice cream mix should do. Alcohol happens to be a dual-purpose ingredient that adds flavour and ensures a softer scoop. Just don’t go overboard or your ice cream won’t set.
- Add sugar. For a kid-friendly dessert, the right amount of corn syrup, honey or table sugar also makes your ice cream creamy and soft. Similar to alcohol, balance is also crucial. Too much sugar prevents your ice cream from freezing, while too little sugar results in rock-hard ice cream.
Not Creamy Ice Cream
One of the most common homemade ice cream problems would be lack of creaminess. The most likely cause of this would be the type of ingredients you’ve used. Here are some tweaks you can do:
- Go for full-fat dairy ingredients. Milk and heavy cream have varying levels of fat content. And if you’re using them for ice cream, choose the full-fat version. Fat globules can cut between water molecules, resulting in smaller ice crystals and creamier dessert.
- Find your ideal milk-to-cream ratio. Ideally, use more cream than full-fat milk for a creamier ice cream texture. Milk has more water, and adding too much of it makes for icy ice cream. Using low-moisture options like condensed or evaporated milk is also an alternative solution.
- Choose a custard-based recipe. I know this is a more time-consuming method, but egg yolks are rich in fat. And when done right, your custard mix guarantees creamy results. Just make sure to leave out the egg whites and reserve them for your sorbets or pavlova. Alternatively, you can skip making traditional French custard-based ice cream and use fatty ingredients instead, like avocado.
- Add some corn starch to your custard. If you do choose to make a custard ice cream base, stirring in some cornflour slurry can also enhance texture. It works as a stabiliser that prevents the formation of ice crystals while churning.
Gritty Ice Cream
Another one of the more popular homemade ice cream problems you are likely to encounter is icy ice cream. There is only one culprit, and that is ice crystallisation. Here, the solutions involve steps in proper preparation and technique:
- Step 1: Freeze the bowl overnight. Or if possible, freeze it for 24 hours. You need it frozen so that your ice cream mix freezes in an instant during churning. This step helps in keeping ice crystals small.
- Step 2: Use a chilled ice cream base. Another term for this step is aging. A cold mixture freezes faster than a room temperature one. Also, did you know that custard-based mixes are less likely to be icy? That’s because proteins in egg keep your mixture stable during freezing.
- Step 3: Stop churning at the right time. Although recipes provide a churning time duration, it’s best to keep an eye on your mixture. Over-churning will only make it icy. So, once it reached soft-serve ice cream consistency, stop the ice cream maker, transfer the churned ice cream to a container then put it in the freezer until firm. Oh, and don’t forget to cover the top with baking paper or plastic wrap. Make sure to press it to the surface to prevent freezer burn.
Eggy Ice Cream
Eggs release the familiar eggy flavour when fully cooked. While we enjoy this with toast, a scrambled egg flavour ice cream is the last thing you’d want. So, when whipping up your custard ice cream base, make sure you have everything ready before you start cooking. This way, you’ll avoid overcooking your eggs or, worse, burning them.
A better solution would be to use a thermometer. While stirring your custard, make sure it doesn’t go above 85C. This temperature is just perfect for pasteurising eggs without releasing the eggy taste. You can also opt for a less complicated Philadelphia ice cream base. But do keep in mind that your ice cream will not be as rich.
Mushy Ice Cream
With every ingredient and technique right, all these homemade ice cream problems will be a thing of the past. But don’t panic in case your perfect ice cream turns to mush after a week or two. Homemade frozen dessert doesn’t last as long as store-bought ice cream as it lacks enough stabilising ingredients.
Taking the ice cream container in and out of the freezer can affect dessert quality. So, to keep your ice cream from turning to gloop too soon, portion it in small containers. This way, you only get to take out what you can consume at a time. Also, try to plan your ice cream-making time. If you’re serving it for a party, for example, have your ice cream ready a day before the event.
But the best way around it is to consume your homemade ice cream within a few days. Now, that’s a solution we can all do! Need more tips to make delicious ice cream? I’ve got a few more secrets in this article.