Homemade Ice Cream

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:


4 eggs
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.

10 thoughts on “Homemade Ice Cream

  1. I have been looking for this recipe for weeks, my grandma used this exact recipe, thank you so much for posting, I lost mine and couldn’t, nothing touches the taste of this ice cream th best

  2. I came across your blog while looking for a recipe that would confirm our memories of PA Dutch pot pie! It is one of my husband’s favorite and he is making it with venison right now.
    You are absolutely right about not using frozen corn from the grocer or canned corn in your Chicken Corn Soup! I haven’t made it for 2 years, because I am not about to make it w/o real corn! The same goes w/ baked corn!
    I am originally from MD with family roots in W Va, so it took me a while to learn to cook PA style. Over the years, I have learned a few recipes from the natives and I just realized that I have been in PA now for 24 years – over half of my life, so I can say w/some authority that you are right on w/ your recipes!

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Chipi! I’m happy to hear I’m on track with my recipes… I have actually spent this latest half of my life in the DC/Maryland area, so it’s good I’m not losing my “touch.” I need to make time to post more… Have you tried making shoo-fly pie yet? Molasses cookies? So much goodness, so little time!

  3. I keep coming back to look at this picture. LOVE IT.

    Here’s what I remember about the homemade ice cream: it took FOREVER. It was rather runny. And it tasted soooo good. I haven’t had homemade ice cream since. I hear you can make it in a coffee can. I might try that with the boys this winter.

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