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How It's Made: Hans' Homemade Ice Cream

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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
A batch of Praline Pecan goodness.
Sure, it's only January, but ice cream is ice cream, and when it's Hans' ice cream, it's [insert wistful sigh] ice cream.  

An engineer of frozen goodness, Hans Biermann has been churning out the richest, creamiest and arguably most heavenly ice cream in Orange County since 1972. Nestled in a Vons strip mall on Bristol Street in Santa Ana, Hans' Homemade Ice Cream is a local fixture, serving up 60 to 70 wondrous flavors at any given time, from the familiar (Rocky Road, Rum Raisin) to the inventive (Swiss Orange Chip, Banana Nut Chocolate Chunk) to the seasonal (Pumpkin, Eggnog). 

The charming shop remains untouched from its early days--jewel-toned stained-glass lamps hang above marble tables and dark-wood parlor chairs. "It's the same old stuff," says the 70-year-old Biermann, who hails from Germany. Luckily for Hans' sweet-toothed fans, he uses the same old ice-cream-making process, too.     
 
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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
Back in the kitchen, a sort of sweets lab crammed with an array of liquid flavors in plastic jugs--chocolate, lemon, peach, peppermint--Biermann starts with a bag of 16 percent milk fat, the richest cream you can get. "Our ice cream weighs twice what other ice cream weighs," he says. "There's no air in it."
 
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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
He pours the cream into the batch freezer, a $25,000 Emery Thompson machine.
 
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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
For this batch, Praline Pecan, he adds a pint of praline flavoring.
 
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Christopher Victorio/OC Weekly
After eight to nine minutes, he releases the now-cold-and-creamy mixture into a 2.5-gallon plastic bucket. Rather than tossing the caramel and pecans into the ice cream machine, he adds them later so the ingredients are distinctive.

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