Hand cranked ice cream is one of those traditions that is particularly relevant nowadays. It takes a while to make, but it is supposed to. That is why it tastes so good. Tasha used an old ice cream churn, painted green on the outside with copper wire holding the staves together. The gear and crank assembly that spanned the top of the wooden bucket and turned the stainless drum within never quite stayed seated and required occasional adjustment during the cranking process, but it made the very best ice cream. The open door of the woodshed with a view past the dovecote and to the pines to the south was the preferred location for ice cream production. Even on hot days the shade is cool beneath the roof where rows of firewood sit quietly, and there was always a corgi enjoying the proceedings.
Jen's son, Jack Tudor Wyman, turning the crank.
A successful batch of ice cream often involves a group effort. It is important to have plenty of ice available, either frozen in blocks a few days before, or three or four bags from the store. It is also a good idea to locate all the parts to the ice cream maker and scald them with hot water. Tasha generally made ice in tubs and then when it was needed, put it in a burlap bag and hit it with the back of the splitting hammer, perhaps another reason she made ice cream in the woodshed. Table salt is not ideal for this process. Rock salt is required, found in twenty-five pound bags in hardware stores or garden centers. A ratio of three parts ice to one part salt produces smooth ice cream. More salt will freeze everything faster but the ice cream will be more granular. There are receipts other than the one Tasha used, but the advantage of a custard based ice cream is that the eggs are cooked with the cornstarch, salt and sugar and are safe to consume.
Summer birthday parties and the 4th of July in particular are favorable circumstances for this event. There are plenty of people around, and this is important, for the ten to twenty minutes of required cranking is best shared. Tasha covered the ice cream maker with an old blue barn coat when all was done and then poured the salt and slush onto a sandy patch of driveway. Through the years she made the basic vanilla custard ice cream, but added strawberries or peaches or chocolate to suit the occasion. Along with the ice cream, a white cake with boiled frosting complimented the festivities, as they do to this day.
Old-Fashioned Vanilla Ice Cream Receipt:
3 cups milk, 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 full cup sugar, 3 eggs, slightly beaten, 3 cups heavy cream, 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Scald a 1-gallon freezer can. In a saucepan, scald the milk. In the top of a double boiler, over hot water, mix the cornstarch, salt and sugar. Slowly add the scalded milk. Cook and stir for 8 minutes. Add the eggs and cook for 2 more minutes. Chill well in the refrigerator.
Add the cream and the vanilla and pour the mixture into the freezer can. Pack the freezer with cracked ice and salt and let everyone take a turn at cranking the handle, remembering to crank slowly for the first 5 minutes. Remove the dasher when the freezing is completed and pack the freezer with more ice and salt. Wrap the freezer with blankets or newspapers and set it in the shade for several hours until you are ready to serve the ice cream. Delectable!