Homemade Ice Cream – Make it Safe
In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month – this year, July 19 – as National Ice Cream Day. For many families homemade ice cream is a treat they look forward to in summer. But each year that same treat causes many cases of Salmonella. The ingredient responsible? Usually raw or undercooked eggs.
Eggs are a standard ingredient in most homemade ice cream recipes. They add flavor and color, prevent ice crystallization, and make for that smooth and creamy texture. To prevent this ingredient from causing harmful infections, just follow these guidelines for safe cooking and handling.
Cooking the Egg Base
At the FDA, we advise consumers to start with a cooked egg base for ice cream. This is especially important if you’re serving people at high risk for foodborne infections: infants, older adults, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems.
To make a cooked egg base (also known as a custard base):
- Combine eggs and milk as indicated in the recipe. (Other ingredients, such as sugar, may be added at this step.)
- Cook the mixture gently to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, stirring constantly. The cooking will destroy Salmonella, if present. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the mixture. At this temperature, the mixture will firmly coat a metal spoon (but please don’t lick the spoon if the custard is not fully cooked!).
- After cooking, chill the mixture before adding other ingredients and freezing.
You can also use egg substitute products or pasteurized eggs in your ice cream, or you can find a recipe without eggs.
- With the egg substitute products, you might have to experiment a bit with the recipe to figure out the right amount to add for the best flavor.
- Pasteurized eggs can be substituted in recipes that call for uncooked eggs. Commercial pasteurization of eggs is a heat process at low temperatures that destroys any Salmonella that might be present, without having a noticeable effect on flavor or nutritional content. These are available at some supermarkets for a slightly higher cost per dozen.
So, by following these safe handling and proper cooking practices, you can enjoy refreshing, tasty homemade ice cream without worrying about making anyone sick!