Homemade ice cream is easier than most people think and it is made all the more easier with an ice cream machine. However, if you don't have a machine, hand-churned freezer ice cream is a simple and effective alternative that yields nearly identical results. Ice cream, or rather gelato (as only gelato is made purely from whole milk; ice cream contains a butter fat cream above ten percent), requires three basic components: milk, sugar and ice.
Mix together 2 cups of whole milk with 1 cup of sugar in a medium-sized bowl and blend until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add 2 tsp. of vanilla extract and stir. If you are using an ice cream machine, proceed now with the manufacturer's directions for your particular model.
Pour the milk mixture into a freezer-safe long dish such as a metal or glass casserole pan or any plastic container with a snapping lid. Secure the lid, or use plastic wrap if there is no lid, and place in the freezer.
Remove the container from the freezer after 45 minutes and stir with a spatula or sturdy whisk. Scrape away any of the frozen mixture from the edges and whip as fast as you can. Stir for about a minute and return to the freezer. Repeat the stirring procedure every 30 minutes until the ice cream is frozen and no longer able to be stirred. Depending on the freezer and depth of your dish, it could take anywhere from 3 to 7 hours to reach the proper frozen consistency.
When making milk-only ice cream by the hand method, do not replace whole milk with low-fat or skim milk. The higher water content will cause the mixture to freeze to a much harder state and will form ice crystals, resulting in a less creamy product.
To make a flavored ice cream (rather than vanilla), pour the milk, sugar and vanilla mixture into a blender and add 1-2 cups of any ingredient you desire; fresh raspberries, avocados, chocolate shavings, sweetened condensed milk (half of a 6 oz. can), strawberries, coconut flakes or walnuts. Whirl in the blender until smooth.