I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream

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The Recipe:

6 eggs
3 cups sugar
3 cans evaporated milk
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
whole milk (1 quart or less)

Beat eggs thoroughly, then add sugar and canned milk alternately, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla and about 1 cup of whole milk. Pour mix into the freezer canister of your ice cream freezer, then use whole milk to rinse out your mixing bowl, adding this to the freezer canister until it is about 2/3 full (or as full as your manufacturer suggests). Refrigerate for at least one hour.

How to Do It:

You will need a one-gallon hand-cranked ice cream freezer, several bags of ice, some salt (rock salt or koshering salt is traditional, but a box of table salt works just as well), and your ice cream mix.

Assemble the freezer canister with stirrer, etc., in the freezer according to your manufacturer's instructions. Usually, there's a paddle that goes down into the canister and comes out through a hole in the lid. This paddle fits into a hole on the top part of the freezer assembly, which has a handle on one end.

After your freezer is assembled, pack the area between the canister and the outside bucket with ice. After every 3 or 4 inches of ice, add a layer of salt. Be careful not to get the ice and salt above the level of the freezer canister's lid. (Unless, of course, you are a fan of salty ice cream.) When all this is accomplished, start turning the hand crank.

And turn it and turn it and turn it.

The cranking process can take as little as 10 minutes, especially on very hot days. It seems to take longer when the weather is milder. I have no idea why -- try asking a physicist.

When the crank starts getting very difficult to move, or the ice cream starts to come out of the top of the canister, the ice cream is done. It's best if you refrain from eating it immediately, as it is still very soupy at this point. The ice cream needs to be packed using one of the following methods:

Packing Homemade Ice Cream in the Ice Cream Freezer Carefully remove the top of the freezer assembly, then the top of the canister. Gently remove the paddle/turner from the canister and give it to someone to lick (this is a messy treat). Put some foil around the top of the freezer canister, rinse off the top (it may have some salt and ice on it), and replace the top on the canister over the foil. Add additional ice up to the top of the freezer canister, cover the freezer with a towel folded up nicely so that you can sit on it, and leave the freezer in a shady area until you are ready to eat the ice cream.

Packing Homemade Ice Cream in Your Electric Freezer Carefully remove the top of the freezer, then the entire freezer canister. You will need to take the top off, remove the paddle and give it to someone to lick, and then replace the top. I strongly recommend rinsing off the outside of the freezer canister as well as the top and using some foil to cover the ice cream as described above. Then stick the entire freezer canister into your freezer or refrigerator freezer compartment until you are ready to eat the ice cream.

One word of caution about "packing" the ice cream: If you leave it too long (especially in an electric freezer), the ice cream will start to separate. If this happens, you can scrape both layers out into your mixing bowl and beat them into homogeneity. (Heavy-duty electric mixers do this best.) If you do this once, it probably won't happen a second time.

And Now a Word About Fat Content and Raw Eggs

If you are concerned about the fat content of the ice cream, you can try using egg replacement products, evaporated skim milk, and skim or low-fat milk. The final product will not be as rich and creamy, but it will still taste good.

If you are concerned about using raw eggs: you can try using egg-replacement products; you can buy eggs from certified healthy free-running chickens fresh from the farmer like I do and take a small risk; you can heat the (unshelled) eggs to 140 degrees, which will not cook them but will kill any potential viruses; or you can look in almost any general-purpose or dessert cookbook for a cooked ice cream recipe. (The ice cream mix is cooked like a custard before freezing -- trust me, it works.)