Thursday, February 23, 2017

Amish, Making Ice Cream

Winter had just begun and it was the first year I was making my weekly trip to buy milk and eggs from my Amish friends.  The weather had turned bitter cold the night before and as I walked past their back door, there was an old, rusted wheelbarrow full of large pieces of flat ice.  Out the kitchen door flew the smaller children, all rosy cheeked and flushed with excitement.  They were talking so fast I could hardly understand a word.  It had gotten so cold the night before that all the mud puddles were frozen and this was the cause of the gaiety.  I saw no importance to this information, but I listened patiently as they explained.

It was their family's tradition on the morning after the first bitter cold night, they would bundle up and rush out to gather chunks of ice from the top of all the puddles around the house.  I thought, oh my, runoff water from the hog pen, horse barn, cattle stalls...oh my.  Their mom would boil the ice cream, set it out on the porch to cool while they collected the ice.  It would be poured into the hand-crank ice cream maker; of course, the ice never touched the cream since the container would be sealed, but, oh my.  Each child was looking forward to having their turn cranking the machine.  I smiled as my mind raced.  No electricity. Oh, my. 

I also make homemade ice cream but my method is quite different.  I use an electric Cuisinart with a freezer bowl.  The bowl is frozen overnight which chills the milk.


2 eggs beaten (more or less)
3/4 cup sugar (more or less)
1/4 cup cocoa (more or less)
1 cup cream and 3 cups milk (ratio of cream to milk can vary)

This recipe makes 4 1/2 cups of liquid which freezes to about 5 cups of ice cream.  It is really hard to mess up ice cream.  All that matters is that the volume be no more than 4 1/2 cups or it will spill over the top of the ice cream maker, which might not matter if there are people in the family who like to lick the bowls and spoons.  A word of caution:  Don't lick the frozen freezer bowl;  it is like sticking your tongue to the schoolyard flagpole in January.


Beat two eggs using a hand ELECTRIC mixer.

Add sugar, cocoa, milk and mix with the electric mixer until blended.

Put the mixture into the electric microwave to scald.  For me, it takes about 7 minutes.

Remove the mixture and put it in an electric refrigerator to cool down.

Remove the freezer bowl from the electric freezer (the internal liquid must be frozen solid).

Put the freezer bowl into the electric ice cream maker and pour in the cooled mixture.

Insert the paddle, put the lid on top, turn on the electric switch and watch the electric clock for about 20 minutes until it is ready.

Almost ready...

Remove the paddle, scoop out the ice cream, put the dirty containers into the electric dishwasher.  Put the freezer bowl back into the electric freezer so it will be ready to use again later.

                               AMISH                                     ME
2 eggs                    $.00 (They own chickens)       $.35 ($2 dozen= $.17 per egg x 2 = $.35)
4 cups milk             $.00 (They have a cow)          $.60 ($2 gallon= 16 cups = $.13 per cup x 4 = $.60)
3/4 cup sugar         $.20 per cup                            $.20 ($1.80 4lbs= 9 cups = $.20 for one cup)
1/4 cup cocoa        $.25?                                        $.25?
Electricity used      0 (They have child labor)         $.05?
Convenience         0 (Free labor)                           10 minutes of actual work
Total                      $.45                                          $1.45


1. Flavor - tie - We use the same milk and eggs since I purchase mine from them.  We both must buy our sugar and cocoa from the grocery store.
2. Cost - I lost - I am not willing to milk a cow at sunrise every morning.
3. Convenience - tie - I use electric labor-saving devices, but they use free child labor.
4. Appreciation - I lost again - My sons will come running when the ice cream is ready but will they churn it themselves?  No.  Will I churn it by hand?  No.

Since I hate to lose at any competition, I am going to change the contest.  I decided to compare my ice cream to Breyer's All Natural store-bought brand.  I consider it similar, although inferior to mine.  It sells for $5.99 for 1.41 liters or 1.5 quarts.  A serving (a scoop) of ice cream is ½ cup. Who only eats ½ cup?  Nevermind, we are doing the math here. There are 6 cups (3 pints) in 1.5 quarts of ice cream. So $5.99 divided by 6 cups equals $.99 per cup.

I made 5 cups for $1.45 but we need to compare 6 cups to 6 cups, so my cost for 6 cups would be $1.74 ($1.45 = $.29 per cup x 6 cups = $1.74)  That means I saved $4.25 for 10 minutes of work ($5.99 - $1.74 = $4.25).  If I decided to take a job making $4.25 for every ten minutes of work, I would make $25.50 per hour (6 x $4.25).  I could make ice cream all day long for $25.50 per hour.

Homemade ice cream is unbelievably delicious, healthier and less expensive than grocery store brands.  It is a rarity for the Amish children to get ice cream and so that makes it more valuable to them.  They are willing and eager to work for it.  For my family it is common, and, therefore, devalued.  We are not willing to work for it.  So even though the Amish ice cream cost less than mine and store-bought brands, it is far more valuable.

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  1. Delicious !
    I have a similar ice cream-maker (Philipps).
    We like best ice cream with fruits in it: Strawberry, banana or raspberry. Or lemon sorbet when temperatures are very hot.
    I am thankful for my little machine as it is so easy to prepare
    a really good dessert.

    1. It is so wonderful to be able to sit it on the counter and just wait a few minutes. I like not having to fool with putting ice in the machine. The only problem is that when the boys are here, it is only one serving for each of them. They can eat a quart each! The solution is to just keep making more!

  2. Ok, Jeannie, now I want to eat ice cream! That looks really good. I keep thinking of getting some, but didn't have room in the little freezer over the fridge to put it. Until yesterday. When I cleaned some more things out. Hmmmmmmm.

    1. How can you NOT HAVE ROOM FOR ICE CREAM! May I suggest throwing a "dinner from the freezer party." Invite everyone and feed the neighborhood. Or, you could go to the grocery and buy a quart, get home and realize you don't have room, so you will have to eat it all before it melts.

      Ice cream, it is a necessity...along with coffee, tea, and chocolate.

  3. I count myself lucky to have passed on my ice cream freezer to my sister, who is just having grandkids these days--she has a 7 year old and a 3 year old with one more on the way so far, and another married daughter who is just finishing her Master's so her husband can start his--don't think they will be having any quite yet. I know that she will get lots of use from it. It does require ice but I was always struck with how much cream the recipe contained. We didn't make it all that often since heart disease runs in our family, but so does a love of ice cream. I am 74 and my granddaughter is almost 25, so I think we'll just buy ours now. I can buy lower fat ice cream and everyone is still happy. My (baby) sister is only 58 so she has, I hope, lots more grandma adventures ahead of her! I am at that point in life where if someone admires something in my house, I am likely to say "here, take it with you." Was just cleaning out part of a closet today--the cleaning part is endless. Four bedroom house, two people. DECLUTTER is my word for the year, and has been for the last couple as well. My energy does not always keep up with my ideas, though. One bag of garbage and one bag for the Salvation Army is decent progress--that was today's output. Slow but steady!

    1. Marcia, we had a old hand-crank ice cream maker years ago and it was sold at a yardsale. No one would bother cranking it. I agree, DECLUTTER is the word! My closets have all seemed to be shrinking. The more I throw away, the more I have.

  4. (I'd rather read or garden, than make ice cream. Ours comes in a plastic supermarket tub ;~)

  5. Homemade is the best! Thanks for sharing at Home Sweet Home!