Homemade Ice Cream

Homemade Ice Cream

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Tips from a dad who’s discovered homemade ice cream can be fun and easy as child’s play.

Got milk? How about cream?

June just happens to be National Dairy Month, so what better way to celebrate than whipping up a batch of fresh, tasty, homemade ice cream? It’s easier than you may think.

Mike Bowland, local special education teacher, husband, and father, discovered the joys of making ice cream about six years ago. It’s an activity he happily shares with his daughters — Ava, age 4, and 18-month-old Piper — who enjoy the process almost as much as the end product.

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Ava stands on a stool while Mike Bowland (holding 18-month-old Piper) heats the eggs and milk for the ice cream base

Even working with preschool helpers, Bowland has managed to create some amazing original recipes and win a few local dessert contests. He happily shared a few tips and tricks he’s learned along the way:

  • Most essential to a successful product: Cold! Freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker at least 24 hours in advance. Bowland stores his in the freezer, so it’s always set to go. That also goes for the containers he uses for the finished ice cream.
  • Bowland favors a custard ice cream base, made with lots of egg yolks. It yields the best taste and consistency, he says. He uses at least six to eight yolks (fresh from his hens!) per quart, for extra creaminess.
  • After making the custard base, let it “age” overnight in the refrigerator, then strain it before pouring it into the ice cream maker. This yields an exceptionally smooth, creamy product, he says.
  • Fill your ice cream maker bowl no more than half full, Bowland cautions. This allows it to chill and aerate adequately. Overfilling results in an inferior product — and a potential mess.
  • If you’re a coffee lover like Bowland is, try this: Once you’ve made your base, mix in a cup of whole coffee beans and refrigerate overnight. Strain and discard the beans before pouring the base into the ice cream maker. Voilà! Elegant white espresso ice cream!
  • You can find all kinds of recipes on the Internet, ranging from simple to complex, Bowland says. Some don’t even require any special equipment. Experiment. Have fun! (Check out the three-ingredient, five-minute-prep, no-ice-cream-maker recipe provided on this page.)
  • “Making ice cream is a great activity to do with kids,” Bowland says. “Unlike most baking projects, it’s more flexible and forgiving. A little more or less cream, sugar, vanilla, or whatever won’t really matter. And if it’s not perfect, it’s usually still delicious. Even if you have to drink it rather than eat it with a spoon!”

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Bowland serves the finished key lime ice cream

Reno writer Barbara Twitchell loves ice cream, and she really loves these ice cream makers! They happen to be her awesome son-in-law and adorable granddaughters.


Mike’s Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

(courtesy of Mike Bowland of Reno. Makes 1½ quarts)

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2 cups heavy cream

2 cups half and half

1 cup whole milk

6 egg yolks

2 cups granulated sugar

1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla, to taste

2 teaspoons lime zest

1 cup lime curd (use your own recipe or purchase ready-made version)

1 graham-cracker crust (use your own recipe or purchase ready-made version)


Combine cream, half and half, and milk in saucepan. Heat over medium-high setting, stirring frequently until liquid begins to simmer.

Whisk egg yolks in large bowl until bright yellow. Combine sugar with eggs.

Pour ⅓ of the hot milk into eggs while whisking vigorously. Pour egg mixture back into saucepan, combining with remaining milk. Over medium heat, stir constantly until slightly thickened and able to coat back of a spoon.

Remove from heat. Add vanilla and lime zest. Once mixture cools, refrigerate overnight (preferable) or until very cold. Strain through sieve. Pour mixture into ice cream maker. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Meanwhile, bake graham cracker crust at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes, until it begins to brown. Once cooled, crumble into bite-sized pieces.

Pour ice cream into storage container in layers, alternating ice cream, lime curd, and graham cracker pieces. Freeze at least 3 hours until firm. Garnish with extra graham cracker pieces and serve.

Easiest Vanilla Ice Cream Ever!

(courtesy of Mike Bowland of Reno. Makes 1¼ quarts)

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Ava Bowland helps mix the ingredients for the family’s ice cream recipe. 


Just three ingredients. Five-minute-prep. No ice cream maker needed. And it’s really good!


2 cups heavy whipping cream

1, 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


With an electric mixer, whip heavy cream into stiff peaks. In separate bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk with vanilla. Fold in whipped cream until fully blended. Scoop into a 2-quart container and cover. Freeze at least 6 hours until firm.



If your mouth is watering for ice cream, but you have neither the time nor inclination to make your own, visit one of these local establishments that specialize in handmade ice cream:


Bibo Freddo Gelato
717 S. Center St., Reno

Little Truckee Ice Creamery
15628 Donner Pass Road, Truckee
530-587-2884 Truckeeicecream.com

Steve’s Homemade Ice Cream
1360 Hwy. 95A, Ste. 5, Fernley
775-575-0500 • Find Steve’s Homemade Ice Cream on Facebook

Simple Ice Cream Sandwiches
960 S. Virginia St., Reno
775-322-4604 • Simpleicecreamsandwiches.com

Tahoe Creamery

Reno writer Barbara Twitchell employs reusable bags every time she shops. After researching this story and reading Harris’ book, she has discovered many more plastic-free practices she is excited to adopt!


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Stay updated with our Newsletter

Discover new products, thriving traditions, or exciting food events, festivals, restaurants, and markets – all of the things that are helping to make us a true culinary destination.