The Best Time To Add Flavorings In Homemade Ice Cream

Unless you want your homemade ice cream to turn out tasting a little plain, you'll probably want to add flavoring ingredients in at some point. The ingredients you add are entirely up to your preferences — everything from liqueurs to dulce de leche can elevate your homemade pints. What has less flexibility, however, is at what point in the process you decide to dump your flavorings in. If you add them in too soon, your ice cream may end up blander than intended.

If you pour in your items when your creamy base is hot and fresh off the stove, the heat could just break them down and you may not even end up tasting them. Likewise, you'll want to avoid adding them in when you're cooking your custard, or the flavors may just burn off. Plus, incorporating some ingredients while your base is hot, like citrus, may even change the color of your final product. To squeeze the most flavor and color possible out of your precious added ingredients, make sure to use them after you've given your custard sufficient time to cool down.

How to add flavoring ingredients to homemade ice cream

So exactly at what point in the process should you add your flavoring ingredients to homemade ice cream? You have a few different options, but the earliest one is to wait until your custard concoction has cooled once it's removed from the stovetop. Whether you let it sit in the fridge until it gets cold or overnight for maximum aeration, only add your ingredients in once you've removed a cold base from the fridge. Then use a method called cold steeping, which means letting the additions sit in a cold base for a longer period of time — like a couple of days — to slowly draw the flavor out. This works best for lighter ingredients like herbs, zest, and spices.

After you've cold steeped, you can stir in some heftier mix-ins right before you churn. These can include chopped-up nuts, fruit, cookie dough, chocolate, fudge sauce, cheesecake chunks, and more — whatever will complement your original ingredients and give you the flavor you're looking for. If you do need to cook any of these ahead of time (like if you're making a fruit reduction), make sure it's completely cooled before adding it to the base. That way, you'll get a pint packed with flavor, instead of letting your extra ingredients fall flat.