Churning ice cream may be a lost art but it's one that's definitely worth reclaiming. No matter your age, nothing seems to unite generations like sharing this delightful, homemade treat. There are two types of ice cream churns, or freezers, on the market. The version with a manual crank gives you the "full ice cream experience," not to mention a workout for your biceps and triceps. If you're more into convenience, try one of the contemporary, electric ice cream churns.
Create the Ice Cream Batter
Blend the milk, sugar and egg yolks in a medium-sized heavy sauce pan, using a wooden spoon. Turn the heat on low and continue to stir.
Insert a cooking thermometer into the batter and continue stirring until it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't allow the batter to boil. It will thicken slightly, but should not coat the spoon. This process takes five to eight minutes.
Strain the cooked batter through a wire mesh strainer into a heat-resistant mixing bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least three hours, but not more than 24 hours.
Churn the Ice Cream
Remove the ice cream batter from the refrigerator and stir in the heavy cream and vanilla extract.
Pour the ice cream batter into the churn, also known as the ice cream canister, insert the paddle and fasten the lid tightly.
Place the churn in the center of the ice cream freezer bucket. Layer ice and salt around the canister. Fill to the top, taking care not to let any of the salt get inside the canister.
Fasten the top of the ice cream freezer securely to the bucket and churn the ice cream until frozen. If you're using an electric freezer, follow the instructions for the length of time to run the machine. If you're using a manual freezer, toss a throw rug or heavy towel over the top of the freezer, and have someone sit on it. Turn the crank until the until it won't turn anymore. As the ice cream freezes, it thickens, making the crank increasingly difficult to turn.
When using either an electric or manual churn, the ice and salt become depleted as the ice cream freezes. Continue adding ice and salt as needed to keep the bucket filled.