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Released: May 16, 2002

Also see: Summer 2002 Food Safety news package

Summer Food Safety: Take Extra Care With Home-made Ice Cream

MANHATTAN, Kan. Properly handling home-made ice cream ingredients ensures a health-friendly, frozen product.

"We are approaching the traditional picnic season with church dinners, family get-togethers and holiday celebrations," said Karen Blakeslee, Rapid Response Center coordinator with Kansas State University Research and Extension. "Home-made ice cream is a special picnic treat."

Many common ingredients are used to create the flavored dessert. However, one product can taint the entire dessert if not handled properly.

"Eggs are the primary concern," Blakeslee said. "Traditionally, homemade ice cream is made with raw eggs which could contain Salmonella. If the eggs are uncooked, they create a food safety risk."

Eggs add rich flavor and color to ice cream. They prevent ice crystallization to ensure a smooth product. Since they are perishable, Blakeslee said handling eggs safely includes keeping them in the refrigerator before use and cooking them to eliminate the bacteria.

"Salmonella does not grow below 40 degrees, however refrigeration or freezing will not kill or destroy the bacteria," she said. "Cooking the eggs is the only way to kill Salmonella."

The bacteria causes higher risk for youth, elderly, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems, Blakeslee said.

"It is recommended to cook the eggs in a custard mixture," she said. "Heat slowly to 160 degrees Fahrenheit while gently stirring."

Use a thermometer to determine that the temperature reaches 160 degrees F. The mixture will eventually solidify enough to coat a metal spoon.

Egg substitutes can be used in place of raw eggs. Commercially pasteurized eggs can also be used, and are often sold next to regular eggs in the supermarket case. They may cost a few cents more, however.

Blakeslee said popular recipes, such as those listed below, create refreshing ice cream without the risk of consuming raw eggs.


1-1/2 cups sugar

2 quarts half-and-half

1/4 cup flour

4 eggs, slightly beaten

teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons vanilla

Use a double boiler or a heavy metal pan over low heat for cooking this recipe. Combine the sugar, flour, and salt in the pan. Stir in 1 quart of half-and-half. Cook overboiling water or low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Cook 2 minutes more. Stir a small amount of the hot mixture into the slightly beaten eggs before adding the eggs to the remaining hot mixture. Cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat. Add the remaining quart of half-and-half and the vanilla. Chill thoroughly. Freeze in a gallon ice cream freezer using 1part salt to 6 parts crushed ice. Yield: About 3-1/2quarts.


2 tablespoons gelatin

1-1/2 cups sugar

cup cold water

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk, hot

1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla

6 cups half-and-half

Soften gelatin in cold water before adding to the hot milk. Be sure gelatin is completely dissolved. Add remaining ingredients. Chill thoroughly. Freeze in a gallon ice cream freezer using 1 part salt to 6 parts ice. Yield: About 3 quarts.


2 cups sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 quarts skim milk - may be made from nonfat dry milk

3 eggs, beaten

cup water

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin

1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla

Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a heavy pan. Gradually add 1 quart of the skim milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened, about 12 to15 minutes. Stir a little of the hot cornstarch mixture into the beaten eggs; then stir the eggs into the remaining cornstarch mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 4-5 minutes. Soften gelatin in cup of water for 5 minutes. Stir into hot mixture. Chill thoroughly. Stir in vanilla and remaining 1 quart skim milk. Pour into a 1gallon ice cream freezer and freeze. Use 1 part salt to 6 parts ice. Yield: About 3-1/2 quarts.

Note: One to two percent or regular homogenized milk may be substituted for part or all of the skim milk. However, these milks will increase the calories per serving.

Recipes adapted from U.S. Department of Agriculture and University of Illinois.


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

Story by:
Lucas Shivers, Communications Assistant
K-State Research& Extension News

Additional Information:
Karen Blakeslee is at 785-532-1673