The Best Ice Cream is Salted Ice Cream
Considering that those of us in the northern hemisphere are just one month into winter, some of you may scoff at the idea of eating ice cream right now. And that’s fine – it just means there’s more ice cream for the rest of us.
My daughters recently made ice cream using salt and snow from our front yard. Being unfamiliar with their ice cream-making process initially, I was surprised that I tasted neither salt nor snow in their finished product. Laughing, they explained that the salt and snow were only used to freeze milk and sugar in a small plastic bag, to which I, in an effort to re-establish myself as a figure of some intelligence, responded, “Oh yeah, well, I bet you didn’t know salt actually tastes good on ice cream.” Needless to say, their incredulous reaction inspired this blog.
Many of us have a little bit of a sweet tooth. Savory Spice visual guru, Jonathan, recently got an ice cream tutorial from an unlikely source, his two girls and a winter snow. He shares their super-scientific findings with us.
My daughters recently made ice cream using salt and snow from our front yard. Being unfamiliar with their ice cream-making process initially, I was surprised that I tasted neither salt nor snow in their finished product. Laughing, they explained that the salt and snow were only used to freeze milk and sugar in a small plastic bag, to which I, in an effort to re-establish myself as a figure of some intelligence, responded, “Oh yeah, well, I bet you didn’t know salt actually tastes good on ice cream.” Needless to say, their incredulous reaction inspired some super-scientific research.
To prove my claim, I first had to learn how to make ice cream. You can of course buy your own and sprinkle salt on it later, but if you’re feeling adventurous, this is my daughters’ quick, homemade method:
Homemade Ice Cream RecipeYield: 1 Serving
Time: 8 mins.
Ingredients & Equipment
Note: *The less fat you have in your milk, the more ice crystals your ice cream will have. More fat will result in a more creamy texture.
- 1/2 cup milk, half and half, or heavy whipping cream*
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 4 cups crushed ice
- 1/2 cup rock salt
- Flavor additions (see specific flavors below)
- 1 pinch specialty salt topping (or more, to taste)
- 1 gal zip-top bag
- 1 pint zip-top bag
- Small towel
In a small bowl, mix milk and sugar with any desired flavor additions (see specific flavors below). Pour mixture into the small zip-top bag and seal it. In the large zip-top bag, add ice and salt, then shake it gently until the ice and salt are well-mixed.
Place the small bag inside the large bag, burying it in the ice/salt mixture, then seal the large bag. Wrap the bag in a small towel and moderately shake it for 5 min., or, as my daughters do, have a shake/dance party for the duration it takes to listen to The Beatles’ “Twist and Shout” twice.
Remove the small bag with the newly made ice cream from the large bag. Wipe off any and all rock salt from the small bag, then transfer the ice cream to a small serving bowl. Sprinkle a pinch of one of our recommended salts to taste.
As my daughters taught me to make ice cream, I taught them about complementary flavor pairings. I explained how contrasting flavors like sweet and salty can combine to create a broader, more fulfilling experience in the same way that Ringo’s rhythmic drum beats contrast the melodious guitar stylings of John, Paul, and George – when combined, it’s more musically satisfying than Ringo’s drums alone.
Here are some of the flavor pairings we made:
Vanilla Ice Cream with Chicharron Salt
Flavor additions: 1/4 tsp. Natural Vanilla Extract
Specialty salt topping: Chicharron Salt
This is probably the best example of a contrasting flavor pair: the sweet, creamy vanilla ice cream plays delightfully against the salty, meaty crunch of our Chicharron Salt. Additionally, you have a subtle note of spicy habanero that contrasts with the dairy. It makes for a broad-spectrum flavor experience that tastes like heaven.
Chocolate Chip Ice Cream with Whiskey Barrel & Hickory Smoked Salt
Flavor additions: 1 Tbsp. bittersweet chocolate shavings or mini chocolate chips
Specialty salt topping: Whiskey Barrel & Hickory Smoked Salt
The hint of bitterness found in chocolate isn’t necessarily a contrast to salt flavor, but both salt and cream reduce the chocolate’s bitterness, allowing the chocolate’s sweetness to be more recognizable. Our Whiskey Barrel & Hickory Smoked Salt is smoked using actual whiskey barrels staves, which imparts a subtle bitterness and woody flavors into the salt. The whiskey smoke and chocolate flavor pairing was less interesting to my 9- and 5-year-old daughters, but adults with more mature palates can appreciate the complementary flavors.
Strawberry Ice Cream with Ghost Pepper Salt
Flavor additions: 1 Tbsp. minced strawberries (coated in sugar and left to sit for 5 to 10 min. to bring out their natural syrup)
Specialty salt topping: Ghost Pepper Salt
My 5-year-old was too chicken to try this one, but my 9-year-old actually enjoyed it. Heat from the Ghost Pepper Salt (which has a Chocolate Extract base) is quelled significantly by the frozen cream, but you’ll still get a subtle chile kick to it. My thought process going into this was that chiles pair well with chocolate, and chocolate pairs well with strawberries, so this pairing should work, and it totally did. Plain strawberry ice cream will never taste the same again.
Coconut Ice Cream with Makrut Lime Sea Salt
Flavor additions: 1/4 tsp. Natural Coconut Extract
Specialty salt topping: Makrut Lime Sea Salt
Packed with tropical flavor, this refreshing combination of coconut, lime, and salt was my daughters’ favorite ice cream that we made. The salt actually enhances the coconut’s neutral flavor, bringing out a sweetness that pairs well with the tart flavor from the Makrut Lime salt.
Having proven victorious in my endeavor to convince my daughters that salt goes well with ice cream, I started my own dance party, ice cream in hand. The girls joined in, for some reason. I guess when we all have ice cream, we’re all winners.
Share photos of your ice cream and salt pairings and tag @savoryspiceshop on Instagram!