Although National Ice Cream Day (July 15th) is over, the cool thing is that July is still National Ice Cream month.  It was designated as such in 1984 by then-president Ronald Reagan.

During the summer, many people enjoy making homemade ice cream.  In this day and age, there are many electric-powered devices to aid in the process.  However, I remember the old-fashioned hand-crank variety.  People usually took turns rotating the handle that spun a metal container around and around in a bucket of ice, which was liberally sprinkled with a special substance named for its purpose – ice cream salt.

When my family planned to create this summer treat, a big block of ice was purchased.  We chipped it up with an ice pick in order to be able to have pieces small enough to place around the center container, which held the soon-to-be-frozen liquid.  It was my mother’s job to prepare the mixture that went into that container.  After that, she turned it over to Dad, who supervised the freezing operation.  My sisters and I started the churning process; the youngest helper went first.  As the ice cream began to freeze, the handle would get harder and harder to turn.  Dad took over the job when young arms were unable to complete it.

The time we spent in anticipation seemed to get longer and longer.  We chipped up more ice to add to the outer bucket when what was in it melted.  We added more salt along with the ice.  We cranked and waited and cranked and waited and watched Dad crank and waited.  Finally, the announcement came, “I think it’s ready!”  He removed the container holding our long-awaited treat, wrapped it in a towel to prevent it from dripping salt water through the house, and carried it inside.  Mom was ready with bowls and spoons, and soon the kitchen table was surrounded with happy children slurping up rapidly-melting homemade ice cream.

Modern techniques for making ice cream are much easier than what I recall from all those years ago.  I have a 2-quart ice cream maker that uses ice cubes and table salt.  It also has an electric motor that spins the inner container, which saves a whole lot of arm fatigue.  Funny, though, as I sit here and think about all the effort we put into making something that lasted only a few moments, I remember the time we spent together as a family and the joy we found in a simple pleasure.  Lots of love and fellowship went into the cranking process, something my electric motor can’t even begin to add.

Want to make your own ice cream?  Or how about some treats created with the purchased variety?  Find recipes below!


Banana Split Ice Cream

4 eggs

1-1/4 cups sugar

6 cups milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

2 cups half-and-half

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 bananas, chopped

1 (10-ounce) jar maraschino cherries, drained and chopped

Beat eggs with electric mixer at medium speed until frothy.  Gradually add sugar, beating until thick.  Add 6 cups milk and salt; mix well.  Pour egg mixture into a large saucepan; place over low heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly heated. (Mixture should be at least 150-160 degrees.)

Combine egg mixture, sweetened condensed milk, half-and-half, and vanilla; stir well.  Add bananas and cherries.

Pour mixture into freezer can of a 1-gallon hand-turned or electric freezer.  Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.  Remove from can, pouring into a freezable container.  Place in freezer and let ripen at least 1 hour.

Yield: about 1 gallon.


Rhubarb Ice Cream

3 to 3-1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped in 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar, not packed
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups half and half (not fat-free)

1 teaspoon almond extract

Combine the Rhubarb, butter, vanilla extract, brown sugar, and salt in a medium sauce pan. Cover and place on medium-low heat. Simmer until Rhubarb is soft. This should take about 15 minutes.  Remove the lid and break up the Rhubarb with a wooden spoon. In a medium bowl combine the cream and milk then add the braised Rhubarb.  Add almond extract.   Let chill completely.
Churn in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.  When cycle is completed, place ice cream in freezer for several hours to harden.  Serve with Oatmeal Shortbread.

Oatmeal Shortbread

1-1/2 sticks butter, softened (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoon white sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup ground oatmeal (this can be done in a blender or food processor)
1 cup flour

Cream the butter and the sugars until light. Add the yolk and salt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir in the vanilla. Add the ground oatmeal and flour. Stir just to combine.
Roll into a 2-inch log then wrap with parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Slice chilled log into 1/4″ discs.  Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.
Let cool on a wire rack then serve with your ice cream.


Refreshing Lime Sherbet

4 teaspoons finely grated lime zest

1 cup sugar

3 cups half-and-half (to make dairy-free, see note)

1/2 cup fresh lime juice (4 to 5 limes)

1/2 cup water

1/8 teaspoon salt

Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl; mixing until well blended.

Pour lime mixture into freezer container of a 2 to 4-quart ice-cream maker; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Makes 5 cups.

Note: I made mine dairy free by substituting almond milk (original flavor, not vanilla) for the half-and-half.  I added 2 tablespoons potato starch (found in the baking aisle of the grocery) to thicken it.


Ice Cream Treasures

 4 cups toasted rice cereal, (such as Rice Krispies), slightly crushed

1 cup slice toasted almonds

1 cup toasted sweetened flaked coconut

1 cup packed light-brown sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

2 quarts vanilla ice cream, softened

In a large bowl, mix together cereal, toasted almonds, toasted coconut, brown sugar, and butter.  Press half of mixture into the bottom of a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking dish and chill slightly.  Spoon softened ice cream over chilled crust and press evenly, using wax paper and your hands.  Top with remaining cereal mixture.  Cover and freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.

To serve, cut into 8 equal squares.  Cut each square diagonally into triangles.