Throughout the summers of my childhood, around my birthday, my brother’s birthday, and the 4th of July, my family often found ourselves on the back patio, clustered around a drain. We stood in a circle, peering down at the person in the center, and watched. When that person glanced up and nodded, sometimes with an almost pleading look in their eyes, someone else squatted down beside them and laid hands on top of theirs.
Everyone took a turn churning the ice cream.
We manually cranked for almost half an hour. The handle wasn’t allowed to stop. We layered rock salt and ice into the space between the metal cylinder and wooden bucket, and we kept adding more as it melted and water trickled down the bucket’s side and into that patio drain.
With the black plastic handle rotating beneath our palms, we felt the milk mixture grow thick and stiff. When our tiny muscles couldn’t push any more, my dad crouched down and finished it off. Once he proclaimed it done and lifted the metal tub out of the salt water, we raced inside to grab bowls and spoons, eager for our first taste of the fresh, sweet, cold vanilla ice cream.
For old times’ sake, we pulled out that same antique ice cream maker last month to celebrate my brother earning his PhD. As we stood around the drain in the backyard again, we talked about how nobody sold rock salt anymore in my hometown, and we ended up substituting regular finely ground table salt instead.
A few weeks later, back in Southern California, I almost laughed aloud in the middle of the store as I spotted an end cap display.
It prominently featured gigantic bags of rock salt — plus modern ice cream makers designed to look just like the old-fashioned wooden bucket kind we owned.
It seems like we aren’t the only ones craving a taste of nostalgia and homemade ice cream…
So I thought it’d be fun to share some healthy ice cream recipes with you! Don’t worry — all of these can be made in a modern ice cream maker. No hand-cranking or antiques required!
Even better? These ice cream recipes take less than 5 minutes to prep!