Thursday, November 08, 2018

Old Fashioned Ice Cream

My favorite dessert is cake, followed by cobbler or crisp, followed by pie. Ice cream comes in close to last. The only time I really enjoy ice cream is when it's very hot out. Of course, growing up hot weather happened all summer!

If you've ever made your own ice cream using an old fashioned ice cream machine that uses rock salt and ice and a crank, you know that getting from the initial creamy liquid to the actual ice cream that is solid enough to eat is a long and tiring process. At some point during my childhood my Dad missed good, dense, old-fashioned ice cream enough that he bought one of those machines and we made ice cream.

I think we started with vanilla. My Mom made the liquid custard that you start with and my older brother had a great time mixing the rock salt and ice and packing it around the ice cream container to chill the liquid.

My Dad fit everything together and we took turns cranking. It really seemed to take a looooooooong time! The finished product was good but not spectacular. I suspect that if we had taken the time to chill the ice cream in the freezer for a half hour or so I would have been more impressed but the children would have been up in arms about the wait.

What came out of the churn was sort of a soft-serve mostly frozen but still a bit milky treat. It did taste good. In truth it was far better than most ice cream available at the store, especially since most store brands were made with vanillin, an artificial substitute for real vanilla. If you added enough chocolate syrup the stuff from the store was OK, but the freshly made ice cream didn't need any additions, just a bit more chilling.

My favorite of all the kinds we tried making was the peach. Freshly made peach ice cream is a bit of heaven in my opinion. Sweet dairy and tart but sweet peach is a great combination and I think my Mom added just a touch of freshly ground nutmeg, too. We could have had that every night!

We had an ice cream store a few miles away that we were taken to as a treat on occasion. It was a High's Ice Cream store. My favorite flavor there was Lemon Custard. It had some tartness to it that made the sweetness even better. After that I liked chocolate...big surprise, huh?

A family favorite was Neopolitan, which we bought at the A&P grocery store in a block so it had bands of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice creams. You could scoop the ice cream so that your bowl had all three flavors, or you could just slice it so that you only had one kind or even two kinds. With a large family this versatility helped to avoid many squabbles.

Once we moved to the north bay area, we were delighted when a new ice cream store opened up in Sebastopol, right on the corner of Hwy 12 and Hwy 116 N. It's called Screaming Mimi's and it has a wonderful array of flavors, often using local ingredients. The fresh strawberry ice cream using strawberries from a farm just down Hwy 12 is outstanding!

Do you have a favorite ice cream memory? Favorite flavor? Favorite Brand?


  1. Ah, Screaming Mimi's - I remember when it opened and we passed and looked - and still have, to this day, never stopped!!!!!

  2. Next Sister Down1:02 PM

    Remember when that High's would give schoolkids a scoop of ice cream for getting A's on a report card? Later, the Baskin-Robbins opened in Jefferson Village. It had way more flavors than High's, but I didn't think the ice cream was as good. And then there was Gifford's in Arlington for very special occasions.

  3. Tanita, you need to come visit again and we can visit Mimi's too. It would be fun and it is far less crowded this time of year.
    NSD, I had forgotten about the As on report cards scoop at High's but then I didn't get as many as you did. Never have like Baskin-Robbins ice cream, but Gifford's was wonderful. I think I only went there once or twice because it was also expensive. Do you remember getting any of the Pennsylvania Dutch vanilla ice cream?

  4. Elle, we went to ice cream JUST because of this post. We went to La Michoacana Fruits and Ice Cream and I got soursop ice cream, which was tart-sweet and delicious. Himself got mango and guava, which was also delightful. Thank you for the reminder to treat ourselves...

  5. Glad to be of service :) Sounds like delicious and unusual flavors.