This time every year I think of my mom and her awesome homemade ice cream. Her birthday was July 5, the day after the Fourth of July, and we always celebrated at our family's lake house with a massive cookout and homemade ice cream for dessert.

Now, you may have one of those ice cream makers you fill with ingredients of your choice and put in the freezer – and the ice cream made from them is quite yummy. One the other hand, many of you reading this may be thinking back to days gone by when everyone made ice cream in hand-cranked churns. I clearly recall that churning ice cream was a family fun time ... an activity we truly anticipated. We actually drew straws to see who’d get to turn the handle first. Many of you remember how the handle was easy to turn the first 15 or 20 minutes, but got more and more difficult to turn as the contents of the churn was transformed from liquid to lush, delicious homemade ice cream. When the handle was quite difficult to turn, we knew the ice cream was done.

Then, Mom removed the dasher (the long mixing gadget that extends from the top) and covered the top of the “freezer can” with waxed paper, put the lid back on the can, and plugged the hole in the lid with the little cork that came with the churn. Then, we put some extra ice and rock salt all around the can and covered the churn with a heavy towel. Mom said we had to let the ice cream “set” so the flavors would meld. She usually made us wait 20 to 30 minutes at least, and the whole time we’d watch the clock, eagerly awaiting the frozen treat. Now, Mom’s ice cream recipe was a simple one. I have it in her very own handwriting on a small, splattered and stained envelope. It is one of my favorite keepsakes, just as memories of our churning days are some of my favorite mental keepsakes.

Mom’s easy ice cream

(Before beginning, wash the churn, can, top and dasher with hot soapy and rinse well. Dry everything, and put the can in your freezer to chill.)

2 cans evaporated milk

2-1/2 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

4 to 5 eggs (beaten)

Stir all ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined. Pour into the churn can. Add whole milk until the contents reach the “fill line” marked on the can. Put the dasher in. Attach it to the churning mechanism, and churn for 40 to 45 minutes or until the electric churn stops. Remove the dasher and allow the ice cream to “set” in a churn filled with ice and rock salt for 30 minutes to an hour. (You may want to add bananas, chopped peaches, chopped strawberries, etc. to your ice cream. Just be sure to add the fruit before you add the extra milk to the fill line.)

Pineapple sherbet

(Recipe of the late Louie and Carolyn Bozard, the forever-champion sherbet makers of Indian Field Campmeeting)

1 flat can crushed pineapple (small, flat can)

1/2 of a large can of pineapple juice (use a good, flavorful brand)

1 to 1-1/4 cups sugar (no more or the sherbet won’t freeze well) A few drops of yellow food coloring

Stir all of the ingredients together in the churn container. Add water to the “fill” line. Stir well. Put the dasher in and the top on. Of course, use ice and rock salt in the churn. Follow manufacturer’s directions to prepare your churn as if you were going to make ice cream. Churn as you would ice cream and allow to "set." 

Choose-a-fruit frozen yogurt

(For this recipe, you have to double all ingredients if you use a 4-quart or 5-quart ice cream freezer.)

2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened strawberries, red raspberries, blueberries or boysenberries; cut-up, peeled peaches or nectarines, or pitted dark sweet cherries

16 ounces plain yogurt

1/2 to 3/4 cup honey or sugar

In a blender container, blend the fruit until smooth. Press through a sieve to remove seeds, if necessary. Stir in yogurt and honey. Pour into a 1- to 2- quart ice cream freezer. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. This recipe makes one quart. (This recipe is from an old “Better Homes and Gardens” cookbook.

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