Sweet Science: Make Your Own Ice Cream

On a hot summer day or any old Friday, there's nothing quite like ice cream cups from the ice cream shop. But did you know that you could make homemade ice cream cups? While it may seem like a complicated process, making ice cream is a fun and delicious process that uses both culinary knowledge and scientific processes.

For the most basic of ice cream recipes, you need two essential ingredients: milk and sugar. In fact, 9% of the milk produced in the United States is used to create ice cream. While many low fat ice cream and frozen yogurt cups are available for sale, ice cream typically needs fat to build a solid base and maintain its creamy and smooth texture. And the sugar, of course, makes it sweet.

But how do you get these ingredients to marry one another to create the sweet, cold dessert we all know and love? Typically, ice cream makers churn their ice cream. Through this process, the ice cream gets its thick, creamy and fluffy texture, and gains 50% more air. For gelato, which is more custard-like and slightly denser, there's only around 30% air.

But to make your own ice cream at home, you don't need an ice cream maker. All you need is a gallon-sized plastic bag, some ice, and salt.

To make your own ice cream, put four cups of ice in a large gallon bag with a half cup of salt. In a small sandwich bag, add a table spoon of sugar, a half cup of half and half and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Place the sandwich bag inside of the gallon bag and shake for five minutes. In five minutes, you should have ice cream.
So what happened? The salt in the gallon bag lowered the freezing point, making it possible for the necessary ice crystals to form in the bag. Combined with the shaking, you have the perfect environment for ice cream to form.

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