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I've recently started making homemade ice-cream and have found most recipes require you to make a custard using egg yolks, however the Ben and Jerry's recipe book asks for whole raw eggs to be used instead. I understand cooking the egg yolks removes the risk of salmonella however in the UK most UK sourced eggs are safe to eat raw.

This leaves the question that I am struggling to find the answer to:

Aside from removing the health risks of eating raw eggs is there any benefit to texture and/or taste by making a custard instead of using raw eggs or egg yolks in ice cream?

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Before I say this and it sounds like a slam, I use the Ben & Jerry's method and like it. That said, it is a cheat on creme anglaise. If you beat the eggs the recommended amount you get it to behave similar to creme anglaise but without the effort and risk of actually making one. Consistency wise, I find it a bit more air than a if I were to actually make one, but much easier and more consistent. A proper creme anglaise, to my taste, is better though slightly denser, but not only does it take more effort, it is easy to mess up as well. Whipping the eggs for 4 minutes on the other hand comes out just about the same each time. I tend to opt for product that I would consistently score about 90 on a 100 point scale over one that might be a 99, and next time might be a 70 plus takes more effort. But that is me. They airy vs dense is more of a personal preference and to me is fairly slight difference but others may have different results.

On the safety side, if you use pasteurized eggs, the risk of raw should about the same as cooked, and unless you are careful with temps, it is easy to have creme anglaise and some other custards not really be at temperature long enough to match pasteurized. I personally do not worry about it as I am using my own eggs so am confident my birds are clean, but if I were using commercial eggs I likely would use pasteurized. Maybe not in UK where the birds are vaccinated though.

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Heating the dairy and sugar mixture causes changes in flavor and texture, independent of whether there are eggs. Heating causes a number of changes:

  1. Evaporates water from mixture
  2. Denatures milk proteins to bind to water
  3. Dissolves sugar more completely

These factors give you a smoother, less icy texture.

I recommend reading Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer, which has a good explanation and methods for making home ice creams. I have no affiliation.

  • I'm a fan of Jeni's as well. With respect to the original question, it's worth pointing out that her recipes are true "ice cream" rather than an "iced custard", i.e. they don't have any eggs in them. – G. Allen Aug 29 '18 at 0:11

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