This is a photograph of my dad, my grandfather, and my great uncle Roy, circa the late 1970s, all crouched around an electric ice cream freezer in our kitchen. It was undoubedly winter, not only because of Uncle Roy’s stylish plaid wool trousers and Pappy’s V-neck sweater, but also because I remember that we would usually have ice cream parties in the winter. Which seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Except that you need lots of cold stuff to mix with the salt to make the ice cream mixture freeze, and if memory serves, we would use snow for this purpose. Or maybe we would buy bags of ice, but we would store them outside until we needed them. Because in January, the world is your freezer. Especially in Central PA.
I have never made homemade ice cream myself, but I checked my grandma’s recipe box, and my own, and while I didn’t come up with an official “grandma” recipe, I did find one from a bona fide Central Pennsylvanian Woman named Polly. The card is in her handwriting, and I remember it was said that Polly really did have the very best recipe for homemade ice cream. It came to be in my recipe box because for one of my bridal shower gifts, my cousin Rita gave me a recipe box that she had tole-painted for me and filled with recipes she had collected from many women in the community. It was a beautiful and practical gift! Anyway, Polly’s card was included in the box. And it goes a little something like this:
ICE CREAM FOR 4 QUART FREEZER
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
–Beat these ingredients with a spoon or mixer.
2 vanilla Junket mix (I had to look this up – here’s what this is)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
–Polly’s instructions say “mix and beat” these two ingredients, and I assume she means to incorporate them to the first mixture
1 can Eagle Brand (sweetened-condensed) Milk
1 can Carnation (evaporated) Milk
1 quart (or more) milk (call me crazy but I’d probably start with whole milk here because YUM)
—Add to previous mixture and mix.
Pour this mixture into the can of the ice cream freezer. Then add more milk to fill 2/3 full, or 3 inches from the top.
…and that is where Polly’s instructions stop. There is a note on the card that say if you’re making chocolate ice cream, use one vanilla Junket mix and one chocolate Junket mix. But of course, the card doesn’t include instructions on how to actually turn this concoction into ice cream because it assumes you own an ice cream freezer and you are licensed to use it. Or, it assumes you are a grown man from the late 1970s, because didn’t all men just know how to make ice cream then? But if you don’t fit into any of those categories and, like me, you aren’t sure what to do with this goo, check out this helpful post for an alternative recipe, including step-by-step photos and an explanation of the science of making ice cream in an old-fashioned freezer.