Q: I want to make homemade ice cream for the Fourth of July but I want to make sure it is safe to eat. What are the recommendations?
A: The proper handling of homemade ice cream ingredients ensures a safe product. One ingredient that can taint the entire dessert if it isn't handled properly is the eggs.
Traditionally, homemade ice cream is made with raw eggs which could contain salmonella. If the eggs are uncooked, they create a food safety risk.
Eggs add rich flavor and color to ice cream. They also prevent ice crystallization to ensure a smooth product. Since they are perishable, handling eggs safely includes keeping them in the refrigerator before use and cooking them to eliminate the bacteria. Salmonella does not grow below 40 degrees, however refrigeration or freezing will not kill or destroy the bacteria. Cooking the eggs is the only way to kill salmonella. The bacteria causes higher risk for youth, elderly, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems.
It is recommended to cook the eggs in a custard mixture. Heat slowly to 160 degrees while gently stirring. Use a thermometer to determine that the temperature reaches 160 degrees. The mixture eventually will solidify enough to coat a metal spoon.
If you prefer not using a cooked custard mixture when making homemade ice cream, use egg substitutes in place of the raw eggs. Because egg substitutes already are pasteurized, they do not need further cooking.
The following recipes create refreshing ice cream without the risk of consuming raw eggs.
Vanilla Custard Ice Cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 quarts half-and-half
1/4 cup flour
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vanilla
Use a double boiler or a heavy metal pan over low heat for cooking this recipe.
Combine the sugar, flour and salt in the pan. Stir in 1 quart of half-and-half. Cook over boiling water or low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Cook 2 minutes more. Stir a small amount of the hot mixture into the slightly beaten eggs before adding the eggs to the remaining hot mixture. Cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat. Add the remaining quart of half-and-half and the vanilla. Chill thoroughly. Freeze in a gallon ice cream freezer using 1 part salt to 6 parts crushed ice. Makes about 3 1/2 quarts.
Egg-Free Vanilla Gelatin Ice Cream
2 tablespoons gelatin
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk, hot
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
6 cups half-and-half
Soften gelatin in cold water before adding to the hot milk. Be sure gelatin is completely dissolved. Add remaining ingredients. Chill thoroughly. Freeze in a gallon ice cream freezer using 1 part salt to 6 parts ice. Makes about 3 quarts.
Low-Fat Vanilla Ice Milk
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 quarts skim milk - may be made from nonfat dry milk
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in a heavy pan. Gradually add 1 quart of the skim milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened, about 12 to 15 minutes. Stir a little of the hot cornstarch mixture into the beaten eggs; then stir the eggs into the remaining corn starch mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Soften gelatin in 1/2 cup of water for 5 minutes. Stir into hot mixture. Chill thoroughly. Stir in vanilla and remaining 1 quart skim milk. Pour into a 1 gallon ice cream freezer and freeze. Use 1 part salt to 6 parts ice. Makes about 3 1/2 quarts.
Note: One to two percent or regular homogenized milk may be substituted for part or all of the skim milk. However, these milks will increase the calories per serving.
Q: What's the best way to grill vegetables?
A: Grilled vegetables can simplify summer meal preparation, reduce utility bills and make short work of cleanup. Learning to grill vegetables isn't difficult. Here are some recommendations:
- Use heavy-duty foil or a reusable foil baking pan with an edge to prevent smaller vegetables from slipping through the grill grid.
Spray the foil or pan surface with vegetable cooking spray before placing it on the grill. Vegetable cooking spray or a small amount of vegetable oil prevents sticking and makes grilled vegetables easier to turn. Avoid spraying surfaces near a lighted grill.
- Marinating vegetables in an oil-based salad dressing or marinade also can make them easier to handle and less likely to stick to the pan, foil or grill surface. Marinades should, however, be reserved for that purpose and not reused after they have been used for marinating meat or other foods.
- Since not all vegetables cook at the same rate, lightly steam root vegetables like potatoes or carrots in the microwave before adding them to a summer vegetable mixture or kebab. Allow children to make their own kebab or let them choose the vegetables they would like to grill. It will increase the likelihood that they will eat the vegetables.
- Grilled vegetables like summer squash often retain more texture than steamed vegetables. Grilling also can enhance flavor, for example, it highlights the sweetness and natural flavor of peppers.
- Fresh-grilled vegetables will be hot and should be handled with a long-handled spatula or tongs.
- Grilled vegetables also should not come in contact with raw meat, poultry or fish. Place vegetable grill pans on one side of the grill.
- Scrub potatoes; slice them about twice as thick as a potato chip and place them in a resealable plastic bag. Add herbs and a little vegetable oil or seasoned, Italian-style salad dressing; reseal the bag, and turn gently to coat potatoes before placing them on the grill pan.
Turn once during grilling. Cooking time will vary with the type of grill, potato variety and size of slice. To test doneness, prick with a fork.
- Fruits such as apple, mango or nectarine slices can be grilled as accompaniments for grilled meat, poultry or fish; or for dessert.