The most expensive ice cream I’ve seen was $10 a pint in Louisville, Kentucky. I could hardly believe my eyes. Since then, I’ve noticed that ice cream prices have gone up. The local $4-a-pint ice cream is suddenly $5-a-pint ice cream, and goat milk ice cream has shot up to $7 a pint. (I never liked it that much, anyway.)
But I’ve found a way around this: make your own ice cream.
Before I go on, I should say that if I’m going to indulge in ice cream, I want real ingredients in it, like cream and milk and eggs. When you start to see corn syrup sweeteners and emulsifiers and ingredients like “Propylene glycol,” the price begins to drop, but so does the flavor. Luckily, I’ve found that making my own ice cream is a way to get high-quality ice cream on the cheap.
Of course, there are downsides to making your own ice cream: it requires time and an ice cream machine.
Some people make their own ice cream makers, but for most of us, it’s easiest to invest the $50-$70 into a new machine. (Or, as always, buy one used.) If you plan to eat ice cream regularly, the machine will pay for itself over time.
Here’s why: your typical pint of nice-quality vanilla ice cream costs about $5. Homemade vanilla ice cream costs me about $.60 per pint. That’s a savings of $4.40/pint.
Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe:
2 c whole milk
1 c heavy whip cream
3/4 c sugar
1 Tbs vanilla
Beat the two eggs until they are slightly lightened in color. Slowly add the sugar and beat until integrated. Stir in the cream, milk, and vanilla. Chill thoroughly and pour the batter into an ice cream maker, according to directions. Let ice cream set up before eating.
This makes roughly 4 cups of ice cream, or 2 pints. I get the eggs for free from my chickens. The vanilla I made myself. The sugar costs about $.10. I buy whip cream in bulk from Costco for $3.99 a half gallon, or $.50 a cup. Milk is about $.25 per cup. That’s $.10 + $.50 + $.25 + $.25 = $1.10 for 2 pints of ice cream, or $.60 per pint.
Of course, most people buy eggs and vanilla, so lets add another $.70 on that price, or $1.80 for 2 pints of ice cream, or $.90 per pint.
I’ve heard that you can cut that price down farther by substituting half-and-half for the milk and cream above, although I haven’t tried it. This would have the added benefit of being lower fat, too.
There’s nothing wrong with buying ice cream from the store, and I still do it from time to time. But if you eat ice cream regularly, making your own saves enough money that it’s worth looking into.
And best of all, if you make your own, you can experiment with all kinds of crazy flavors. Here’s some recipes to get you started: