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TCP Kitchen

This Is the Season: Churn, Churn, Churn

Cream, milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla … timeless ingredients for a timeless treat

It’s a pretty simple formula, but I always thought it was magic: Cream, milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla went into a stainless-steel canister. Ice, rock salt and the hard work of my father transformed the liquid custard to frozen delight.

I remember my father sweating in the summer heat, using muscle power to turn the crank on our old ice cream churn. As a youngster, I had the easiest and coolest job: sitting on the burlap-covered wooden bucket. This was necessary when the ice cream in the steel canister began to harden and would threaten to jump out under pressure from the dasher inside.

My other job was even better: sampling the sweet, cold, creamy results right from the icy steel container.

Those days were special because they didn’t come around that often. Making ice cream at home was hard work, first in standing over the custard as it cooked, and later in the hour-long process to hand churn the custard into ice cream. I can’t remember when, but one day the old ice cream maker broke down and never was replaced. That was the end of my childhood memories of homemade ice cream.

It was a long time into adulthood before I entered the world of making frozen treats again. Last summer, I picked up an electric ice cream maker with a plastic bucket at a garage sale for a buck. The motor is much more efficient (and much louder) than the hand-turned churn.

It makes fine ice cream, but the results don’t seem quite as satisfying as when sweat and muscle power were part of the recipe.

Because I’m watching my calorie intake, I don’t make ice cream that often, but I have found that fresh-fruit sorbets are also a nice, lower-calorie icy treat on a summer’s day. They are relatively easy to put together and can be ready in minutes. They also can be made with a variety of fruits and combinations. Here’s a recipe I originally found online and modified to suit my tastes a little more.

The small amount of alcohol, which is an optional ingredient, prevents the sorbet from freezing into a solid block. If you’d rather not use it, allow about five minutes for the sorbet to thaw before serving.

Blueberry-Mint Sorbet

4 cups (2 pints) blueberries, rinsed
Leaves from 2 sprigs mint (about 1 tablespoon)
3/4 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon vodka, optional

Place metal canister of ice cream maker in freezer. Puree blueberries, mint leaves, sugar and 1/2 cup water in food processor or in batches in blender, taking care not to overprocess. Put puree in small bowl with lemon juice and vodka, if using, and place bowl in ice bath. Chill and stir until sugar dissolves, about 20 minutes. Pour puree into chilled canister and process according to manufacturer’s instructions, about 30 minutes, or until frozen. Serve immediately or store in glass or plastic container with lid in freezer.

Servings: 6. Serving size: 1 cup. Per serving: 159 calories, 0.8 g protein, 0.3 g fat, 39.7 g carbohydrates, 2.5 g dietary fiber, 1 mg sodium, 34.9 g sugars

Bonus Recipe: Nutty Cookie Ice Cream

Find this month’s web-only recipe here.

June 2011 Recipe Contest