The problem with making homemade ice cream when you were a kid is it seemed to take forever to freeze.
I scream, you scream, we all scream if the homemade ice cream won’t freeze.
It was like waiting for school to let out or Christmas morning to come. Though the object is the polar opposite, waiting on ice cream to freeze is the same metaphorically as waiting for the watched pot to boil.
“Is it ready yet?”
But some things are worth waiting on: A woman. Game 7. That first autumn day.
And homemade ice cream. The best things just won’t be rushed.
Seems like when we were kids that making homemade ice cream was about as common as shucking corn. On our back porch were muddy boots, a mop and broom, emergency dog food in case scraps were in short supply, a deep freeze filled with stuff in white packing paper and clear quart bags, and a gradually rotting wooden ice cream tub and briny crank handle contraption. Always in the bottom of the tub was the white rock salt residue that never quite came out.
Never did I know as a child what the rock salt was for, only that you “needed it” to “make the ice cream freeze.” That’s what the grownups said. Grownups took a lot of time not explaining stuff to us back then.
“But why?” a little person would say.
“Because I said so,” a big person would say.
It was a simpler time.
Naturally, we just assumed the salt kept the ice cream from contracting rickets.
I have since learned (off the streets) that the salt combines in some chemical way with the ice to lower the temperature a bit below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, thus assuring that the mixture inside the Magic Silver Tube, surrounded by ice, freezes.
It’s one of those science deals.
A couple of weeks ago at the beach, my high school friend J.C. Penney (the four-time Louisiana state 4-H Good Grooming Champ back in the day, which is another column for another time) ran out of salt and out of luck while attempting a homemade batch. He bought salt the next morning and added it to the ice. Less than 20 minutes of churning later, the ice cream was tight as Dick’s hat band and cold as a penguin’s nose. Sweet.
Folks don’t seem to make homemade ice cream as much today as they used to. And that’s a shame. Making homemade ice cream taught us some handy life lessons that today’s kids miss out on.
True, food folk have figured out how to make Food You Buy At The Store better. Preservatives and whatnot. Cake mixes are about as good from the box now as the ones you can make from scratch. What I’m saying here is that if you’ve eaten Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla, I can pretty much rest my case.
But in the days before electric churns, making homemade ice cream taught you patience and safety. The first thing our dads had us boys do was sit on the top of the freezer while they hand churned. This took a calendar day and you couldn’t feel your frozen butt until Tuesday.
The next growing-up step was to sit on the churn and turn it at the same time. This required dexterity and skill, because you haven’t lived until you’ve been churning and accidentally hit yourself in a delicate area. Some things you can feel, even frozen. I scream, you scream…