Making Ice Cream with My Dad

I’m in Connecticut, where I spent most of my life, and I’ve been thinking lately about past summers, including some from the distant past. One of my fondest summer memories is of the first time I made ice cream. It was with my father at our former home in Darien where I grew up. I was probably in my late twenties on this inaugural day of ice cream making. I might have been thirty. I remember making it in the garage because it was kind of a messy process.

My dad had one of those old ice cream makers that required rock salt and bags of ice you had to crush into chips to get the job done. It wasn’t like the ice cream makers of today where you just put the little bucket in the freezer and then pop it into the machine, pour in the liquid, and it churns and chills and you’ve got ice cream. My dad’s ice cream maker was electric, however. It wasn’t so old that it had a hand crank, although I think that could be fun at a picnic with lots of kids to help.

Strawberry was my dad’s favorite flavor of ice cream so that’s what we decided to make. After assembling the ingredients and following the recipe, we poured the liquid into the inner bucket, lined the area between the inner bucket and outer bucket with ice chips and rock salt, turned the thing on, and watched the magic. I still remember the whirring and whining sounds that came from the ice cream maker as the liquid began to thicken and look like real ice cream.

In the end it was the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever had. Partly because of the ingredients – fresh strawberries, cream, sugar. How could that not be delicious? But the bigger reason was because I made it with my dad. Although both he and my mom have been gone for many years, that memory is as fresh as the ice cream was when we tasted it.

Here is a recipe I’ve used with my more modern Cuisinart ice cream maker. I think Dad would approve.

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream
Recipe Courtesy Cuisinart

3 cups fresh ripe strawberries (a one-pound container), stemmed and sliced
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (one lemon)
1½ cup sugar, divided
1¼ cups whole milk
2¾ cups heavy cream
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a small bowl, combine the strawberries with the lemon juice and ½ cup of the sugar. Stir gently and allow the strawberries to macerate in the juices for 2 hours. Strain the berries, reserving juices. Mash or purée half the berries. (Note: I puree all the strawberries, as I don’t like biting into chunks of frozen fruit.)

In a medium mixing bowl, use a hand mixer on low speed to combine the milk and remaining granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream, reserved strawberry juice, mashed strawberries, and vanilla.

Turn the ice cream machine on; pour the mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 20 to 25 minutes. Five minutes before mixing is completed, add the reserved sliced strawberries (if you didn’t puree all of them) and let mix in completely. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture.

If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. 5. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 14 servings.