All You Need To Know: Making Your Own Ice Cream
We saw recently that it’s now officially ‘ice-cream season’. Whilst we didn’t realise that ice-cream had a ‘season’ (the only difference being that we can now eat it outside rather than tucked up in bed), but this still made the perfect excuse for putting our ice-cream making skills to the test again.
Similarly to perfecting a cake recipe, making your own ice-cream can be pretty tricky at first - and a lot of online recipes tend to tell you different methods. But when trying to find a dairy/refined sugar/palm oil/agave free version that doesn’t break the banks is still a pretty mean feat, finally mastering how to make your own can feel like you’re in on a really lucrative secret.
So what are our tips and tricks? Through trial and error, we’ve learnt a few things along the way:
So first things first, you need an ice-cream maker. It can be done without, but it involves a really long process of stirring it yourself every hour and nobody has time for that. Using an ice cream maker is pretty straightforward though - we were a little skeptical at first, but it turns out so long as you always keep the container in the freezer, it’s a quick and easy process and you’ll have soft serve ice cream in under an hour. They're not too big either and cost under £30 for a standard design - a much better investment than £7 per tub of the ready made stuff!
For years we were lead to believe that ice-cream isn’t ice-cream unless it’s made of cream and sugar. Now don't get us wrong, the cream and sugar version isn’t identical to the natural option, but it’s pretty close considering how different the ingredients are.
The main question though, what exactly do you need? It’s quite a simple ingredients list - you need a source of high-fat liquid for the base, a natural sweetener and your flavourings. We've also learnt that adding a few extras helps create a better texture. Adding a tbsp of a high % alcohol (we use vodka) stops dairy free ice-cream from crystallising and adding xanthan gum helps to thicken and bind the mixture, leading to a creamier ice cream and further helping to stop crystallisation.
This bit is pretty easy too. Some recipes tell you to add everything to a pan and let it simmer, then cool it for 24hrs, but we're impatient and don’t have time for that, so we tried it without and it made no difference to the final ice-cream. So generally, all you need to do is add your ingredients to a blender, then transfer to the ice-cream machine, leave for as long as the machine requires (for us, that’s no longer than 40mins) then transfer to the freezer to let it continue to harden. We’ve experimented with different churn times too - sometimes removing it whilst still quite soft, other times letting it churn until it’s really thick. Generally, it didn’t seem to make much difference to the final outcome, although our favourite way to eat it is as a thick soft serve, so the latter tends to win!
As we mentioned previously, the main ingredients you need are a high fat base, sweetener and flavourings.
Some base options we’ve tried are: full fat coconut milk; a mix of soaked cashews, blended with coconut milk; egg yolks mixed with coconut milk (4 egg yolks per 1ltr - although this does require cooking and cooling overnight), all of which worked well! We also tried using just almond milk, but this ended up quite hard and crystallised.
For sweeteners, we’ve tried syrups (rice malt syrup, honey and maple syrup) and granulated (coconut sugar). They all worked equally well, although granulated sugar definitely seemed to create a creamier/less hard ice-cream. We've also reduced the sweetener to just 3 tbsp for 1.5l, using vanilla and lucuma for additional sweetness, and the texture of the ice-cream still came out the same! So all those tales that ice-cream needs a lot of sugar to be creamy, not so true.
In terms of flavours, we’ve found that some tend to work better than others. Every time we try to use a nut butter in the base, we end up with a really hard ice-cream (we’re determined to crack this though, almond butter ice cream needs to happen) and we find fruits tend to crystallise easily so have avoided them for the most part. Mostly flavours based on using powders (matcha/maca/raw cacao/acai) has worked well for us.
Need some flavour inspiration? We have an ever growing list of ‘must try’ flavours (hence why ice cream can’t be limited to just a season), these are just a few on our to-do list:
- Tahini and dried fig
- Lime and passion fruit
- Banana and salted caramel
- Coconut and acai
- Strawberry and Basil
- Cherry and almond
- Maca and hazelnut
Or why not try our latest vegan, refined sugar free creation?
BURNT BUTTER + BLACKBERRY ICE CREAM
GLUTEN FREE | DAIRY FREE | REFINED SUGAR FREE | VEGAN
- 2 tins full fat coconut milk
½ pack (approx. ½ cup) creamed coconut
½ cup maple syrup or rice malt syrup
1 tbsp vanilla essence
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp vodka (to stop it from crystallising)
1 punnet of blackberries
3 tbsp maple syrup or rice malt syrup
At least 24hrs before starting, add the container from the ice cream machine to the freezer, following the manufacturer’s instructions
Add the creamed coconut to a pan on a medium heat and stir until it has melted down
Add the syrup, salt and vanilla and mix to combine
Remove from the heat
Add ¼ cup of the coconut milk to a cup with the xanthan gum and stir to combine
Add the rest of the coconut milk, the creamed coconut mixture, the xanthan gum mixture and vodka to a blender, and blend until combined.
Add the mixture to the ice cream machine and mix following the manufacturer's instructions - ours tends to take about 30-40 minutes
Add the blackberries and remaining syrup to a pan and boil over a medium heat. Remove from the heat and chill in the fridge
Remove the ice cream from the machine and add to a container
Mix the blackberry compote through the ice cream mixture
Cover with baking paper, then store in the freezer for at least 4hrs
Remove from the freezer 30mins before serving to let the ice cream soften