Hand Cranked Ice Cream

July 6th, 2010

A few years ago I found an old ice cream maker at an antique store. I liked the color and I thought an old ice cream maker sitting on my porch might be cute. I imagined possibly filling it with flowers, but I never thought I would ever actually use it to make ice cream.

My sons thought differently.

They have wanted to put that old ice cream maker to use for quite a while.

So for the Fourth of July I found a recipe, bought an enormous quantity of high fat dairy products, scrubbed out the interior of that old churn and sanitized the innards in the dishwasher. Then I sat the boys down and explained how homemade ice cream works. Everyone has to turn the crank. Everyone. Even the sullen teenagers and the spoiled rotten eight year old toddler who usually gets whatever he wants and also gets out of whatever he wants. I estimated that if we all cranked for ten minutes each, we should end up with pretty good ice cream at the end. They agreed. We gave it a go. Here is the photographic evidence.

An absurd amount of high fat dairy.

One carton of half and half.

Another carton of half and half…

One carton of whipping cream…



Assembling the apparatus..

Initially we forgot to put this part in…

The Country Doctor who claims that he spent half his childhood making homemade ice cream was called in to consult…



I wasn’t able to find rock salt and so I bought a large bag of table salt.

Then Ethan said, “What about the salt in the water softener?”

Ding, ding, ding, ding, DING!

He is clearly a brilliant child.

If anyone needs any table salt, I have plenty.

Drew cranked…

Ethan cranked…

The Country Doctor cranked…

The infant cranked.

We took bets on how long he would last.

I said one minute.

Others said, three, five, two, twenty seconds.

He lasted six minutes.

Then he came back and did three more minutes…

And then he came back and did one more minute.

So I guess he got his ten minutes in.

It gets really hard to crank at the end.

Which is why the Country Doctor is sitting on it.

We stopped cranking after about forty five minutes.

Opened it up…



(That’s my grandmother Edna’s ice cream scoop too – the nostalgia in this little endeavor is practically burning my eyes out.)

It was really, really good.

We are already talking about trying new recipes.

Adding things in.

Experimenting with flavors.

It was a very nice way to bring everyone together.

I think that old, merely decorative ice cream maker just found itself a regular job.


  • CeeBee:

    The family that cranks ice cream together, stays together :-)

  • Dang you woman! I begged for an old fashioned ice cream maker for my birthday a few years ago. (Like the CD, I wore my arm out making ice cream as a kid. AND I LOVED IT!) My family? Bought me what looks like an old fashioned machine but is actually electric. Bleck. If they were going to do that, they should have bought one of the fancy table top models I can whip out any old time of day, not one I have to fill with ice and salt.

    But I think we might have to get it out tonight anyway. It’s been awhile. And I have some candy canes left from Christmas…

  • mac:

    Looks really good. Love the family effort. I hope to have that one day. :)

  • Love it! Too cute! I wanna get one & try to make strawberry ice cream….

  • An awesome project – proud of you all. :)

  • Kay in KCMO:

    Ah!! That looks like fun!

    I love homemade ice cream, but my dad always cheaped out on the ingredients. So, while it was good, it was never as good as it could’ve been.

    The look on Jack’s (eh, who the hell knows) face is priceless.

    Be aware: putting chocolate syrup into the mix will not get you chocolate ice cream – it fragments and becomes chocolate chip, sort of. This is a lesson my dad learned in 1970.

  • Kristin:

    Yum! But I have to ask…is that cookies with Budweiser on the coffee table?

  • The fact that you like this makes it impossible for me to not like you!

  • Another Lee:

    Oh, brings back memories. One of our neighbors had one of these when I was growing up. All the adults had to take turns cranking and all the kids had to take turns sitting. I still remember what an eternity it felt like, what with your butt all cold and everyone else out getting the good fireflies.

  • Martha in Kansas:

    Good golly, girl! You’ve got yourself an old White Mountain freezer. Cream of the crop. I saw the other day they’re up to $260 at the hardware store. Last summer I swear they were ridiculously high at $150.

    No eggs in the recipe? I’ll hunt up my mom’s that tastes like frozen custard. You need to experiment with an eggy blend. (You have to cook it just a bit, but it’s worth it.) I figure you work off the calories with the cranking, right?

    I used to have that freezer that was my grandparents. They got it in the ’40s and wore it out. The wood became porous, so my grandpa painted water-proof silver paint on it. (probably poisonous – LOL) One band fell off, so he put a chain around it. I took it to college and we used it till the wood got so rotted the water came out through the boards. Mom wouldn’t let me throw it away. Was convinced we could find a barrel maker. I moved it for years till I finally got rid of it. Which is why I keep pricing them at the hardware store. I’d better check the antique mall too!

  • Martha in Kansas:

    You know the center part that turns is called the “dasher”. Licking the dasher is a great prize.

  • nancy in Ak:

    this was a really fun story! Great idea, too!

  • Martha – I checked out some egg recipes, but was too weak and shaky to cook my ice cream prior to making it. Went for the simple. I always go for the simple. I guess you could call me a simpleton.

  • Sara:

    I have been wanting to try to make homemade ice cream for the longest time, that looks so good!

  • Martha in Kansas:

    Rechelle, when I remembered my mom cooking the ice cream the night before and letting it chill in the fridge till churning time, my ice cream world opened up. It would give you time to sleep off the shakiness. LOL!

  • I highly recommend adding some lemon zest, lemon extract and fresh blueberries…amazingly yummy flavor!

  • sheri:

    Ahhhh when I attended the first family christmas with my husband—way back in the day—HIS FAMILY MADE ICE CREAM–TOGETHER! I felt like I was with the friggin WALTONS. :) My own family was more of a smoke some cigs and drink some beer and swear at the kids kind of celebration. hahahah

    How sweet. You’ve created a memory—and clogged some arteries.

  • M.R.:

    Hurry! Peaches are in season! Homemade vanilla ice cream with peaches in it is the best ever! Take it from someone who spent many a summer afternoon cranking away on the back porch.

  • Oh boy, that looks good! Ice cream is one of my four basic food groups! I’d love to have an ice cream maker, I’d be whipping up some fresh peach or fresh strawberry ice cream right about now!

  • Tracy:

    Fabulous! (And this post reminded me that I want a screened porch. Can I have yours? It looks really comfy.)

    When we were in college my husband’s roommate had one of these ice cream makers and he made a great version with Bailey’s Irish Cream. I think he used a bit too much because it never got very frozen, but was a great milkshake!

  • The final product looks amazing. I’ve been making some homemade popsicles out of fruit purees, yogurt, etc, but this puts my cold-summer-treat attempts to shame!

  • NCGal:

    Delicious AND fun–how can you go wrong?

  • I second Peaches. Fresh, ripe peaches. Nothing like it.

  • eclecticdeb:

    Last week, my boyfriend bought me an electric Cuisinart ice cream maker (I don’t have 4 boys to share the churning duties) :-) In 5 days I’ve made: Strawberry, Peanut Butter and Banana, Fresh Cherry, and ….. Avacado. Yes, Avacado. It’s amazing.

    Next up: White Peach with Ginger, then Salted Caramel.

  • I haven’t seen one of those ice cream makers in ages. I remember sitting on the top while dad cranked every summer. Now we have an electric one, and it isn’t the same. Homemade banana or peach is my favorite :)

  • Nanc in Ashland:

    Oh this brings back fond memories of Girl Scout day camp when the Cadettes would make us (we?) Juniors crank our little arms off so we could have ice cream for afternoon snack. And we’d add the raspberries we found on our morning hike (which I don’t ever recall washing . . . ). Mind you, when I became a Caddete Day Camp leader I, too, made those Juniors work. Good (and yummy) times!

  • Jennifer:

    What fun! Oh, and the dimples on your “toddler” are killer–what a great closing shot.

  • Kathy from NJ:

    Next time the toddler should do his 10 minutes first while it’s still easy.

  • Literally *just yesterday* my mom offered me an old-fashioned ice cream maker that they’d received for a wedding present and had been sitting in storage for the same amount of time. I was on the fence about taking it, but now…? HECK YEAH. :-)

    (though I may have to see if I can rig a contraption to get the dog cranking; doubt Jeff and I can handle it on our own :-P)

  • So.

    A) I am way nostalgic about hand cranked ice cream.
    B) I have the easy peasy Cuisinart ice cream maker, and one of the “old fashioned’ kind that requires salt and ice but plugs in.
    C) I bought a hand cranker at an auction because, like you, I thought it would look cute with flowers in it.
    D) It sat in (still sits in) my garage covered in cobwebs and we trip over it. My husband keeps asking if we can FINALLY throw it away and I always say now.
    E) Because I think I secretly am hoping to hand crank ice cream in it.

    I picked a million blackberries the other day. Maybe I wll make hand-cranked blackberry ice cream. With homemade cones. Because you know, a full time job, two blogs, and a 10 month old baby don’t give me enough to do.

  • I mean, I always say “NO.”

  • tessa:

    Well I had to go see if I could find my old machine after reading this!
    I must have ditched the hand-cranker because all I could find was the electric one. My 9 yr. old didnt know you could make ice cream at home – lol!! So tomorrow we will go get ingredients and give it a go. I need to go find the recipe where you use soda and pet milk – its soooo good! Anybody remember or have the recipe by chance?