There is something so nostalgic about making ice cream in a hand crank ice cream maker. Maybe it has something to do with our childhood and the memories it evokes, or maybe it's the chance to make something with our own muscle makes it so delicious. Whatever the reason, mention the fact that you are having a summer party and serving hand cranked ice cream and friends will be glad to come. The cranking is easy enough at first for even young children and the ingredients are common and easily found at most stores.
Prep your ice cream churner by adding a few quarts of water to the wooden section to allow the wood to swell and form a tight seal. Sometimes after a few months of sitting unused, the wood will shrink. Let it sit while preparing the ingredients.
Make your custard about 3 hours before before you plan on churning the ice cream, or the night before. It will need this time to chill thoroughly. Using a 2 qt. saucepan, heat the milk, salt and sugar until it just comes to a boil, stirring often with a wooden spoon. At the same time, in a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs until they are of uniform color. Turn off the heat under the milk and add about a 1/2 cup of the milk into the eggs, beating vigorously. Add two more batches of the hot milk to the eggs in 1/2 cup increments and then slowly whisk the whole bowl of eggs and milk into the milk pot. Turn on the heat for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add vanilla and pour into a pitcher to refrigerate.
Assemble your hand crank ice cream maker by setting the inner container into the groove at the bottom of the barrel. Pour in your cold custard. Put the lid on and align the crank apparatus on top, locking it into position. Fill the sides with about 4 inches of ice, and then sprinkle a cup of rock salt over the ice evenly. Add another 4 inches of ice and another cup of salt and repeat. Don't fill beyond the top of the ice cream container. Pour about 2 cups of water over the ice and start cranking.
Crank the ice cream, adding ice if necessary, for about 20 to 25 minutes or until it is noticeably harder to crank. Take turns cranking as it will get tiring. After it firms up, remove the hand crank assembly, holding the lid of the ice cream on carefully to keep the salty brine out. Check to see if it is frozen. If it is, lift the ice cream container out of the brine and set in a sink or on a hard surface. Don't place it on the lawn, as the salt will kill the grass. Uncover and lift out the blades, scraping them down as you lift them out. At this point the ice cream can be eaten if you desire a soft-serve consistency. For the old fashioned way, continue.
Empty the ice cream maker barrel ice and brine into another large container. Place the ice cream container back into the barrel setting it into the small groove at the bottom. Pour the ice brine back over the container, adding more ice if necessary but making sure not to get it into the top hole. Allow the ice cream to cure for an hour or more. (This can also be done in your kitchen freezer.)
Add a cup of crushed fresh strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries or any other fruit for a wonderful variation. Replace some of the milk with heavy cream for richer consistency.
Be careful of the salty brine in your yard as it will kill plants and hurt the soil.