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I recently acquired an ice cream maker, and successfully used it to make sone chocolate and coffee ice cream. The ice cream maker is actively cooled, but I doubt it makes a different.

Most ice cream recipes call for preparing some sort of mix of egg yolks, sugar, milk and cream - sometimes cooking it, sometimes not. To this base you then add the flavor, which can be almost anything.

My idea is the following:

  • prep ahead a high quantity of base, 8 to 12 yolks worth
  • freeze the base as it is, in 1 or 2 yolks portion
  • when I want ice cream, fully thaw a portion, add flavor, then cream it in the ice cream maker

It seems to me that this process should theoretically work, as the big crystals that form during the first freeze are then fully melted before the creaming process starts, but I am wondering if there is some additional unwanted effect. As an example, freezing vegetables destroys the plant cells, so you can freeze vegetables to make a soup, but you cannot freeze celery and then expect it to be crunchy, as the texture is irreversibly affected.

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    As an alternative to this, you might want to look at the Ninja Creami, a home-user knockoff of a commercial ice cream blender called the Pacojet. Both operate by freezing the base ahead of time, then blending individual portions on demand. It's not foolproof with every ice cream base, but there are recipes out there to start from (not to mention the Pacojet recipes, which should work).
    – Bloodgain
    Jun 21 at 7:09

2 Answers 2

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The "batter" is typically called a "base" or "ice cream base." There is no problem freezing the base for storage purposes, thawing (in the refrigerator so as to stay out of the danger zone, but also to keep the base as cold as possible), then processing in your ice cream maker. There is no cell structure to worry about, like you point out with vegetables. Remember, a cold base freezes more quickly and produces smaller ice crystals creating a more creamy product.

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    Have you tried this out? Emulsions are rather difficult in freezing, and I would be afraid that the internal structure of a French style ice cream (made with yolks and cream) would suffer from a freeze-thaw cycle. But maybe my theoretical doubts are unfounded.
    – rumtscho
    Jun 20 at 10:54
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    The thought about the emulsion is a good point. If it breaks you should be able to hit it with a stick blender, a blender, or even just a whisk after the thaw to re-emulsify. Give it a shot with a small batch to see how it goes. I've thawed and refrozen ice cream, after not liking the first result. It's worked.
    – moscafj
    Jun 20 at 13:17
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    If the freeze/thaw fails for you, another option is to simply keep your base in the refrigerator. You would be good for at least a week....and, of course, there are a variety of styles of ice cream base...so some might freeze/thaw better than others...
    – moscafj
    Jun 20 at 13:30
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    Yep I could just refrigerate that, but we are just two in the household so my objective would be to mix together about a dozen eggs worth, which takes the same time as mixing 1 or 2, and keeping it frozen so that it lasts months. I'll give this a try soon - currently I have a couple liters of ice cream in the freezer that will last a while :) Jun 21 at 7:37
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    In the comments you mention "give it a shot with a small batch to see how it goes" If I understood correctly — that you haven't done what the OP is asking about at the emulsion stage — I think it'd be good to call it out a little more clearly in the answer itself that you're suggesting it based ona gut feel rather than on experience. Jun 22 at 13:48
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There should be no problem with your approach from a safety perspective as long as the base doesn't spent too long in the danger zone. From a consistency standpoint you are fine as long as you use a stabilizer like guar gum. Pure cream and egg custards may not take kindly to an extra freeze-thaw cycle.

The issue you may get is getting your flavors mixed in a cold base. Chocolate will solidify at that temperature, so if you are adding chocolate you'll either have to re-heat the base to mix it in, or add some oil to the chocolate once it is melted to keep it from solidifying. Coffee, mint extract and other liquid flavorings should mix in fine, as should Nutella, although you'll need to use a stick blender to get it incorporated. Real mint ice cream needs the mint leaves to be steeped in a hot base to extract the flavor.

Re-heating the base shouldn't be a problem, just make sure you build in the time to chill it again. For me going through the steps to re-heat and cool the base again would defeat the purpose of what you are trying to achieve, so it would be best to stick to flavorings you can mix in cold.

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