Eating ice cream to beat the summer heat is one of America’s favorite pastimes. Homemade ice cream can be a special treat. While commercially manufactured ice cream is typically made with pasteurized eggs or egg products, recipes for homemade ice cream often use raw eggs in the base mixture.

Lynn Little has some suggestions for safe alternatives to using raw eggs in your homemade ice cream:

  • Find a recipe that is eggless. An easy one calls for 2 cups milk, 1 cup sugar, 2 cups whipping cream or half-and-half, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Combine and stir until sugar is dissolved, then pour into a 1-gallon ice cream freezer and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.
  • Use pasteurized shell eggs or pasteurized egg substitutes in recipes calling for raw eggs. These can be found in the dairy case near the regular eggs. The FDA requires that pasteurized shell eggs be individually marked or specially packaged to prevent intermingling with unpasteurized eggs. Although pasteurized eggs might cost a few cents more, the pasteurization process destroys salmonella bacteria.
  • Use a recipe that contains a cooked custard base. The custard base must reach 160 degrees, measured with a food thermometer, to kill salmonella bacteria. This is also the point at which the mixture will coat a metal spoon. Resist the temptation to taste-test it during preparation when the custard isn’t fully cooked. After cooking, chill the custard thoroughly before freezing. A recipe for homemade ice cream using a cooked egg base is available on the American Egg Board’s Web site, along with recipes for other foods traditionally made with raw or undercooked eggs, such as mayonnaise, Caesar salad dressing and eggnog.
  • Even when using pasteurized eggs, the FDA and the USDA advise consumers to start with a cooked base for optimal safety, especially if serving people at high risk for foodborne illness. Additionally, it’s important to only used pasteurized milk and cream products in making homemade ice cream.