No summer is complete without a churn of homemade ice cream! There’s just something comforting about the whole process of making ice cream.
Like every family, each of us has our favorite variety of ice cream. I prefer good ole vanilla, but my husband loves banana the best. But our family will dive in and gobble up every flavor: chocolate, peach, strawberry, and even a homemade version of orange sherbet. Whatever the choice, there’s rarely any left to save for another day because homemade ice cream just hits the spot on any hot Southern day.
Plus, making ice cream is kind of a summertime rite of passage here in Mississippi. It officially marks the season – and marks our family memories as well. Maybe it’s because the whole process tends to bring all ages of the family together with one objective: the pure, unadulterated love and joy found only in a bowl of homemade ice cream.
Many of my childhood memories revolve around an old hand-cranked ice cream maker.
Now, I don’t know about your family, but in ours, those memories were made by the men and the kids. I am more than confident that our mommas were the ones who bought all the ingredients and made the whole ice-cream-making memories possible, but it was my dad and my uncles who carried out the entire process, from start to finish.
What a mess they made – stirring and pouring the delicious cast of characters together. Rarely did they measure out the sugar or vanilla, and even opening the cans of Eagle Brand and Pet Milk was a major production. And the licking of fingers and empty cans was absolutely required.
Before churning, the men topped out the shiny, metal container with sweet, whole milk, none of today’s low-fat or lactose-free concoctions. That precious churn of creamy wonder was full of fat and calories – and love.
But the best part of all, other than the constant brotherly sarcasm and fussing, was when we (the kids) got to pack the ice and the rock salt around the canister of gooey goodness and start the actual churning of our ice cream. We shouted, pushed, and vied for our turn to crank the arm of the ice cream maker.
Our dads were smart, though. They knew how to run this game.
Cranking the churn went purposefully from youngest to oldest so that we all got our turn, and the workers got stronger as the task got harder. No one was left out because – sooner than later – our little arms grew tired, and we quite willingly gave the next older cousin in line a chance. Yep, we all started out determined to turn that crank till the cream was ready, but even in a family as large as ours, it soon came down to kids watching as dads cranked.
But as the job got harder and the slower turning took more adult strength, our anticipation grew. And then came that one moment when one of our dads declared, “It’s ready!”
Talk about squealing and jockeying for position. It was total pandemonium! Everyone had their bowl or cup ready for a spoon or two of that summertime wonder. Even now, I can taste and feel the absolute love and joy of those moments with my family.
So, needless to say, I grew a little bit reminiscent last week when our youngest grandson and his mom borrowed our electric ice cream maker. Like me as a child, our grandson was so excited over an invitation to a churchwide picnic and the prospect of homemade ice cream.
Together, we dug the machine out of the back of our pantry, gathered all the needed ingredients, and texted his mom a version of my mom’s recipe for vanilla cream. He was all set!
As he lugged all the items to his mom’s car, my husband and I laughed at his excitement and anticipation. We made him promise to call and let us know how his ice cream turned out.
And as they drove away, I stopped and solemnly thanked God for the gift of our precious family, from oldest to youngest, from those still with us and those gone on home before us. And then, I smiled and thanked Him for the gift of homemade ice cream – and the childhood innocence that it always brings to each of us.
(I would be equally grateful if you wanted to share some of your favorite homemade ice cream recipes with us on the Our Mississippi Home Facebook.)