Skip the bacteria when making ice cream at home

July 26, 2006|by LYNN F. LITTLE

Eating ice cream to beat the summer heat is one of America's favorite pastimes. Homemade ice cream can be a special treat.

The rich, creamy flavor of homemade ice cream is especially tasty. However, homemade ice cream can become a threat because of salmonellosis. While commercially manufactured ice cream is typically made with pasteurized eggs or egg products, recipes for homemade ice cream often use raw eggs in the base mixture.

Here are some suggestions for safe alternatives to using raw eggs in your homemade ice cream:

· Find a recipe that is eggless. An easy one calls for 2 cups milk, 1 cup sugar, 2 cups whipping cream or half-and-half, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Combine and stir until sugar is dissolved, then pour into a 1-gallon ice cream freezer and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

· Use pasteurized shell eggs or pasteurized egg substitutes in recipes calling for raw eggs. These can be found in the dairy case near the regular eggs. The FDA requires that pasteurized shell eggs be individually marked or specially packaged to prevent intermingling with unpasteurized eggs. Although pasteurized eggs might cost a few cents more, the pasteurization process destroys salmonella bacteria.


· Use a recipe that contains a cooked custard base. The custard base must reach 160 degrees, measured with a food thermometer, to kill salmonella bacteria. This is also the point at which the mixture will coat a metal spoon. Resist the temptation to taste-test it during preparation when the custard isn't fully cooked. After cooking, chill the custard thoroughly before freezing. A recipe for homemade ice cream using a cooked egg base is available on the American Egg Board's Web site,, along with recipes for other foods traditionally made with raw or undercooked eggs, such as mayonnaise, Caesar salad dressing and eggnog.

· Even when using pasteurized eggs, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture advise consumers to start with a cooked base for optimal safety, especially if serving people at high risk for foodborne illness. Additionally, it's important to only used pasteurized milk and cream products in making homemade ice cream.

Making homemade ice cream can be fun for the whole family. You don't need special equipment; you can make ice cream in a bag. The small batches will help you control portion size, and the shaking burns calories. This method of making ice cream can involve a family.

Vanilla Ice Cream in a Bag

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups milk (fat-free, 1 percent or 2 percent)

5 cups ice

3/4 cup rock salt

1/4 cup water

In a 1-quart plastic freezer-weight bag, mix sugar, vanilla and milk. In a 1-gallon plastic freezer-weight bag, mix ice, rock salt and water.

To make ice cream, place 1-quart bag inside the 1-gallon bag. Wrap combined bags in towels to keep hands from getting too cold. If your kids are helping, give them oven mitts to wear when it's their turn to shake. This will help keep their hands from being too cold. Shake and agitate the bags for about 10 minutes. Heat and humidity likely will affect the freezing time.

Test for doneness by unwrapping the towel and squeezing mix to see if it is firm. To serve, remove small bag from ice. Rinse off the small bag before opening. You don't want to allow any rock salt to get in the ice cream. Use scissors to cut a hole in corner of mix bag and squeeze into cups.

Serves 4.

For more ice cream-in-a-bag ideas, including single-serving sizes, send a self-addressed, stamped (39 cents) business-size envelope to Maryland Cooperative Extension, Washington County Office, 7303 Sharpsburg Pike, Boonsboro, MD 21713. Mark the envelope, "Ice Cream"; or e-mail your request to with the subject line "Ice Cream."

Lynn F. Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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