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Tips For Making Homemade Ice Cream Softer

Now that everyone out there’s been churning up ice cream, I’ve been getting a certain amount of questions about homemade ice cream, which I’m going to answer here over the next several weeks.

I’m going to start with the number one question folks have been asking: Why does homemade ice cream gets harder than commercial ice cream in their freezer? And what can be done to prevent it?

Salted Butter-Caramel Ice Cream

While I do address this in The Perfect Scoop (pages 5 and 16), I thought I’d list some strategies here as well. I don’t necessarily follow these all the time, but thought I’d put them out for readers to ponder and use as they see fit.

Alcohol

Alcohol doesn’t freeze, which you know if you’re anything like me and keep a bottle of Zubróvka vodka chilled and ready in your freezer. You can add up to 3 tablespoons of 40 proof liquor to 1 quart (1 liter) of your frozen dessert mixture prior to churning. I use vodka if I don’t want the taste of the liquor to intrude on the flavor, but will switch to another liquor such as Grand Marnier or Armagnac to enhance the original flavor if it’s compatible.

If my mixture is fruit-based, I prefer to add kirsch, a liquor which enhances the taste of stone fruits, like peaches, plums, nectarines, as well as berries. Generally-speaking, I’ll add enough so the taste isn’t very present, often less than a tablespoon.

For sorbets and sherbets, a glug of Champagne, white wine or rosé is nice with fruit flavors. 1/2 cup (125 ml) can be added per quart (liter) of mixture prior to churning. Or if the recipe calls for cooking the fruit with water, substitute some dry or sweet white wine for a portion of the water; the amount will depend on how much of the wine you want to taste. (Most of the alcohol will cook out but enough will remain to keep your sorbet softer.)

Sugar

Like alcohol, sugar doesn’t freeze which is why you shouldn’t futz around with recipes and just reduce the sugar willy-nilly. Almost all frozen dessert recipes use white granulated sugar, however you can replace some or all of the sugar with another liquid sweetener, namely honey or light corn syrup.

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