Why make your own ice cream? For me, it was a matter of what to do with an elegant surfeit of both strawberries and cream left over from the previous weekend's adventures. Waste not, want not, make ice cream. But the real reason was revealed almost as soon as the paddle was out of the bucket: It makes people happy! A carton of Ben & Jerry's may be insurance against a bad day, a cone at Bi-Rite good for fun in the sun, but homemade ice cream is a party.
And you don't even have to own an ice-cream maker. That's what Facebook is for: put out a call for help and a hour later you'll have friends all around the city dusting off their mostly-unused wedding presents for the promise of mocha-chip. Krups? Cuisinart? Whaddya want? 24 hours and a helpful neighbor later, I had a tub of pink deliciousness on hand, rich, creamy and infused with ripe berry flavor. No eggs, no custard fussiness, just cream, sugar, and strawberries: pure summery bliss.
Wait, it took 24 hours to make that ice cream? Well, not exactly. But you do have to start the process the day before you want to eat your cone. Yes, this is a drag; after all, what is ice cream but an impulsive treat, and if all you want is five minutes' instant gratification (not a bad thing, by any means), then you might as well go down to Joe's or Mitchell's, hand over your money and be done with it.
But, like I said, there's something about homemade ice cream that draws a crowd, turning any afternoon gathering into a celebration. Plus, once everything's good to go (more on that below), the actual churning process takes less than 45 minutes and is quite fun to watch. It's liquid, it's slushy liquid, wow, it's ice cream, whipping around and around, getting fluffier by the minute!
Why the delay? Most ice cream recipes call for heating the cream, milk, and sugar to a gentle steam in order to dissolve the granules. So first it's hot, then after a hour of sitting around, it's room temp. Still not good enough, since what you want is a very short road from cream to slush to frozen velvet, achieved only by chilling the mixture in the fridge for at least four or five hours, until icy cold. Meanwhile, unless your rich uncle has bequeathed you his Pacojet, you'll also probably need to freeze the container of your ice-cream maker for a good 24 hours before using.