Homemade ice cream is a special summertime treat. However, for hundreds of consumers each year it can also become a threat as they suffer the effects of salmonellosis. In homemade ice cream, Salmonella Enteritidis, which can be transmitted from the hen to the egg yolk before the shell forms, is the more common culprit. Because of this, it’s no longer safe to assume that a clean, uncracked raw egg is safe to eat.
Salmonella infection is characterized by fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps usually beginning 12 to 72 hours after eating or drinking a contaminated food item and lasting up to a week. Although most people require no medical treatment, it can be life threatening for those at high risk for foodborne illness, including infants, older people, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.
While commercially manufactured ice cream is typically made with pasteurized eggs or egg products, recipes for homemade ice cream often use raw eggs in the base mixture. Here are some suggestions for safe alternatives to using raw eggs in your homemade ice cream:
Find a recipe that is eggless. It’s easy and tastes just as good.
Use pasteurized shell eggs or pasteurized egg substitutes in recipes calling for raw eggs. They can be found in the dairy case near the regular eggs. The FDA requires that pasteurized shell eggs be individually marked or specially packaged to prevent intermingling with unpasteurized eggs. Although pasteurized eggs may cost a few cents more, the pasteurization process destroys the Salmonella bacteria.
Use a recipe that contains a cooked custard base. The custard base must reach 160º F, measured with a food thermometer, in order to kill the Salmonella Enteritidis. Resist the temptation to taste-test the mixture during preparation when the custard isn’t fully cooked. After cooking, chill the custard thoroughly before freezing.
Even when using pasteurized products, the FDA and the USDA advise consumers to start with a cooked base for optimal safety, especially if serving people at high risk for foodborne illness. Additionally, use only pasteurized milk and cream when making homemade ice cream.
Sources: Colorado Cooperative Extension, Nebraska Cooperative Extension, American Egg Board
Frozen Custard Ice Cream
2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
crushed ice (if required by manufacturer for your ice cream freezer)
rock salt (if required by manufacturer for your ice cream freezer)
In medium saucepan, beat together eggs, milk, sugar and salt. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon with a thin film and reaches at least 160 degrees F.
Cool quickly by setting pan in ice or cold water and stirring for a few minutes. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least one hour.
When ready to freeze, pour chilled custard, whipping cream and vanilla into 1-gallon ice cream freezer can. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions using six parts ice to one part rock salt. Transfer to freezer containers and freeze until firm.
— There are variations …
Banana Nut: Reduce vanilla to 1 1/2 teaspoons. Cook and cool as above. Stir three large ripe bananas, mashed and 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans into custard mixture. Freeze as above.
Chocolate: Add three squares (1 oz. each) unsweetened chocolate to egg mixture. Cook, cool and freeze as above.
Strawberry: Omit vanilla. Cook and cool as above. Partially freeze. Add 2 cups sweetened, crushed fresh strawberries. Complete freezing.
Eggless Vanilla Ice Cream
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
2 cups whipping cream or half and half
2 teaspoons vanilla
Combine ingredients and stir briskly about two minutes until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a 1-gallon ice cream freezer and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.
Sandra R. Cain is the Bladen County Extension director. She can be reached at email@example.com or 910-862-4591.