Of store Brands I like Blue Bell (from those years living down south with the annoying Texas Longhorns). It's not totally natural, but it is, in my opinion, one of the best store ice creams for the price, hands down.
Trader Joe's vanilla is pretty good. But Trader Joe's is an hour's drive away.
My brother always has some Tillamook in his freezer. The Marion berry flavor is my favorite. It has corn syrup but it doesn't feel like a visit back there if I don't eat some.There are others that have the little specks of vanilla bean, but specks don't always translate into flavor. Breyers at one time used to be really good, almost like a fresh gelato, but since they were taken over by Unilever, they removed the "pledge of purity" which used to be on every carton and added some gums and chemicals. The label now? MILK, CREAM, SUGAR, CORN SYRUP, EGG YOLKS, NATURAL FLAVOR, NATURAL GUAR GUM, SALT, ANNATTO (FOR COLOR), NATURAL CAROB BEAN GUM.
I don't care if it's "natural" I don't want "carob bean gum, guar gum and corn syrup in my ice cream. The taste? It shows.
Hagan Daz is good but still, for the price, has a strong alcohol and vanilla odor. If you take a sniff after it's melted it smells sour. They have a new one that is five ingredients only. The vanilla and coffee flavor of those are excellent.
Ben and Jerry's? There was one that I liked that was some chocolate brownie thing but it's off the shelf now, at least at my local store. For the most part I like my ice cream pretty simple That's strictly a personal thing. I want my ice cream plain not with chunks and monkeys and granola, gummy bears or ground up hippies in it. But Ben and Jerry's IS a high quality ice cream for those of you who like the add ins.
Everyone should gave a great recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream in their repertoire. Here's my favorite, which comes from The Perfect Scoop (Ten Speed Press)
It's not super quick to make and real vanilla beans and the pure extract aren't cheap, vanilla being most of the most labor-intensive of all crops, but it's worth it.
The three most common cooking vanillas are Bourbon, Tahitian, and Mexican. Bourbon vanilla, from Madagascar has a bold, very-pronounced flavor. Tahitian is more floral, and a rare find. Real Mexican is strong, yet creamy-tasting. But don't buy the cheap Mexican impostors. They can contain coumarin, which is toxic and banned in the U.S. True Mexican vanilla will be similarly priced to the best stuff (not cheap, and worth it).
I know it's winter, but take yourself back to summer with a bowl. What's the fun of being an adult if you can't be a kid every once in a while. - Brigid