I’m sure there are a lot of you out there needing to make dairy free ice cream at home, so here are a collection of my favourite tips and tricks to help you along. Warning, this article is a bit of a read, but totally worth it 🙂
As many of you know, I’m always going on and on about my ice cream machine that has a compressor built in. If you don’t have one (and you’re living with food allergies and/or a special diet) it needs to be a priority in your life. When I bought my first ice cream machine, not knowing enough about the topic, I fell prey to fake Amazon reviews when that was first a thing. That first machine was finiscky at best and I missed the return window by one day.
The second time around, I read through this great article on Ice Cream Science and settled on the Cuisinart and couldn’t be happier. I’ve also seen that the model I have is the same one several ice cream cook book authors use at home.
The important fact when purchasing an ice cream machine: make sure it has a built in compressor. This means there’s no bowl freezing, and in my opinion, better temperature control. If you want to get super fancy, spring for an ice cream maker that has multiple settings.
Moving forward (for the sake of purists) I’ll be using the term ice cream to refer to dairy free, allergy friendly ice cream. Legally, this must be called anything but “ice cream” in stores because there’s no cream from milk. Yet, it’s a term we all know and love, so that’s what I’m going with today.
I make dairy free, vegan ice cream at least once a week in our home. Anytime I can source safe corn free ingredients for myself, there’s loads of safe dairy free ice cream for me too. Today’s recipe was a play on an original corn free creation that had no recipe written down. I was me needing an ice cream fix and the kids said it was the most delicious creation of the summer so far.
Related: Vegan Isn’t Always Dairy Free
Start With Safe Ingredients
This goes without saying, but always start with safe-for-you ingredients. There’s no point in getting creative if the end result won’t work for you. If you’re a corn free RAISE Member, be sure to download the corn free product guide for leads on sourcing safe ingredients. Top 8 Free RAISE Members, there’s a guide for you as well.
You May Also Enjoy: Paleo Vegan Strawberry “NiceCream” Ice Cream Recipe GF DF
Always Blend, Sometimes Sieve
Depending on your ingredients, you may want to pass them through a sieve before making ice cream. This especially applies to popsicles. In today’s recipe, I skipped the sieve, but it would be a necessity for those of you who don’t like seeds in your ice cream. When putting fruit purees thru your sieve, you may need to add water to the mix to thin it out. Also, use a spoon to “stir” the content as you pass it through the sieve. It makes the process a lot faster.
If Making Popsicles, Chill Your Liquid
Whether you’re using a popsicle maker or “old fashioned” molds, make sure your liquid is very cold. This allows for less separating and faster freezing. Whilst this isn’t an absolute necessity for ice cream making, you should chill the liquid if you don’t have a machine with a compressor built in.
Some Fruits Will Naturally Thicken Your Ice Cream
Looking at you magnificent blueberries and blackberries. Both of these fruits will naturally thicken your mix, and usually eliminate the need for ingredients such as xanthan or guar.
Some Fruits Will Add Extra Creaminess
Can we give a huge round of applause to bananas and avocado? Truly the unsung heroes. Banana is a staple ingredient in so many vegan ice cream recipes because it adds an amazing creaminess. However, depending on the flavour you’re going for, it can overpower your recipe where taste is concerned. On the flip side though, bananas pair very well with a range of other ingredients, so you’ll have fun experimenting for many months.
Avocado is my personal hero. I’m able to get corn free avocado from a particular farm and the ice cream is TO DIE FOR. Given the fat content of an avocado, it replaces cream beautifully. Avocado can be used for avocado ice cream and chocolate ice cream. Other flavours are hit and miss given the distinct flavour of avocado.
Ratios Don’t Have to be Perfect
Achieving delicious ice cream can be pretty easy, especially with the right ice cream machine. Most machines come with sample recipes, which will help you understand the basic ratios. However, it’s not uncommon to see me add fruit, dairy free milk, maple, vanilla, and salt to the blender, totally un-measured, then blend and make ice cream. It’s delicious. My general rule for my ice cream machine is to aim for about 3 cups of blended liquid.
Ratios are very important when you’re using avocado and banana, as well as any other strong-flavoured ingredient. For example, don’t use too much vanilla extract. Whilst it may seem like a good idea at first, too much vanilla can leave a funky after-taste in your mouth. If you want a punchy vanilla flavour, consider using the scrapings of a vanilla bean or purchase ground vanilla.
You May Also Enjoy: Banana Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Recipe (Gluten Free, Vegan, Top 8 Free)
If You’re Living With OAS
Oral Allergy Syndrome can be a tough diagnosis, especially when you’re surrounded by gorgeous fruit. Peeling the skin from your fruit, in addition to cooking your fruit can work for many people with OAS.
If that’s you, you’d peel and cook the fruit, cool it completely, then proceed to make a tasty ice cream recipe (or popsicle).
Leftovers Aren’t Always That Awesome
Time for some real truth: leftovers from the ice cream machine are meh most of the time. This also applies to the extra creamy varieties. I’ve found that the best thing to do is make what you’re going to eat. If you have leftover ice cream, store it in the fridge (preferably in your ice cream bowl), then re-mix the next day.
I’ve found that freezing leftover ice cream creates too much of an ice-milk/weird slushy product. The only time this isn’t true is if you access to a commercial blast chiller.
I will add this: if you can have eggs, you can get around this issue. We don’t use egg in our ice cream recipes. I’ll also add that the leftovers from the freezer are not the end of the world at all. Leave your ice cream to thaw/soften a bit, mix by hand, then eat. It works. It’s just not as good as fresh from the machine.
There Are Some Basic Formulas You Can Follow
Vanilla = Milk of Choice + Sweetener + Thickening Agent + Vanilla + Salt
Chocolate = Milk of Choice + Sweetener + Thickening Agent (can be banana or avocado) + Salt
Fruit = Milk of Choice + Fruit(s) of Choice + Vanilla + Salt + Thickening Agent (can be a fruit)
Less Can Usually Be More
When dairy free ice cream is made in a commercial setting, there are a LOT of extra ingredients that you really don’t need at home. The batches are smaller, you don’t need shelf life, and you have a lot more control of ingredients.
With that in mind, you don’t need to use excessive gums and binders. In fact, depending on your diet, you can use ingredients such as almond flour, kuzu, and agar to thicken your recipes. There are a few more options out there, but I haven’t had the best results with them.
If You Can Have Fat/Cream, Please Do
If you can have items such as egg yolk, coconut, avocado, sheep’s milk, camel’s milk, soy milk, nut milk, etc., use them. I share recipes that are universal (for the most part) but the beauty of the recipes is that you can use the ratios provided, but use an ingredient that will perform better.
The purpose of the above ingredients is to add creaminess, texture, and a great mouthfeel. If you can’t have them though, don’t fret. I’ve personally been eating alternative ice cream for years and over time, you really do get use to it (and learn to LOVE it).
It’s not to say that our ice cream isn’t tasty. Our kids who CAN have dairy love the alternative items I create. Even Karlton loves them, and we all know how picky he can be where alternative foods are concerned.
Don’t Be Stingy With Your Sweetener
Your recipes should be sweetened to your taste, but this is just a friendly reminder: we’re making ice cream, not a thick healthy smoothie. Whilst the two are related, ice cream should be a sweetened treat, and the other should be a breakfast item or a snack.
Additionally, once ice cream is in its final form, the sweetness level will lower naturally. If your formula starts too low, the final result won’t be what you were hoping for.
Blackberry Peach Ice Cream Recipe
280 – 340g Organic Peach Flesh (10 – 12 ounces)
280g Organic Blackberries (10 ounces)
112mL Organic Maple Syrup (4 ounces)
1 tsp Organic Vanilla Extract
Peel the skin off of your peaches, and remove the stones. Add the flesh, blackberries, maple, and vanilla to your blender. Blend on high until very smooth. Transfer the mix to your ice cream machine and hit the start button.
As I mentioned earlier, the original version was something I made on the fly. It used Organic Nectarines (skin removed), Organic Blackberries, Organic Maple Syrup, and Organic Vanilla Extract. In the original version, there was at least about 15 ounces of nectarine, and about 8 – 10 ounces of blackberries.
Nectarines are lighter in flavor than both peach and blackberry. In the original ice cream I made sure there was enough nectarine present. Honestly, I regret not writing it down. It was GOOD.