There are few things as refreshing as a scoop of ice cream in the summer, especially when it comes with the tart but fresh taste of lemons. They are available throughout the year, but I love them most during the summer months. Their flavour goes so well with sweet summer berries, but this vegan homemade lemon ice cream is also incredibly delicious on its own.
My obsession with lemons had started way before I encountered lemon ice cream. Ever since I could remember I was drawn to my father’s citrus trees in Croatia and even though I adored the sweet scent of their flowers I couldn’t wait for them to drop their petals. As a child, I would sit there on the white stone wall surrounding the house and wait for the fruits to grow and I was always fascinated by the fact that they start out as rock hard, tiny and dark green marbles. Each year I could not wait for them to ripen so I could pick them and turn them into lemonade.
Over the years I turned into an absolute aficionado for the wonderfully scented fruits. I can not bear the thought of not having lemons in my kitchen. Naturally, I try to add them to as many dishes as possible, but lemonade and ice cream are my favourites this time of the year. Luckily lemons are readily available no matter which hemisphere you live in so thankfully I can enjoy this home made ice cream in my current home in England any time of the year.
There are various ways to get lemon flavour into your ice cream. Of course, you can use lemon extract or just the zest, but I prefer a mix of zest and lemon juice. The freshly squeezed lemon juice gives the ice cream the perfect amount of zing. If you use lemon zest you can leave it in the ice cream base; there is no real reason to sieve the ice cream base other than aesthetics. You can leave the zest in if you are not worried about getting an entirely white dessert, but I prefer my lemon ice cream just that way. Snow white.
No matter what you decide, you will have a lovely ice cream with a strong lemon flavour. If you prefer your ice cream on the sweeter side, you can up the sugar by 50g (1/4) of a cup. It will taste more like a lemonade ice cream and will be a hit with kids.
- 2 cans full fat coconut milk*, can size : 400ml (13-15oz)
- 100 g (1/2 cup) coconut sugar, or sweetener of your preference
- 1 tbsp arrow root powder
- 2 tbsp lemon zest, from unwaxed lemons
- 1 pinch of salt
- 180 ml (3/4 cup) fresh lemon juice
- Pour the contents of the coconut milk cans into a saucepan. If it is the first time, you use coconut milk in can then don’t be alarmed by seeing a thick layer of a rather solid cream and a big part of milky water. That is normal. It happens because the coconut milk separates inside the can. Take a whisk and stir until everything is evenly combined.
- Take about 125 ml (1/2 cup) of the coconut milk out of the pan and set aside in a small bowl. Add the arrow root powder to the small portion of coconut milk in the small bowl. The arrowroot powder will make sure the base thickens once this is added to the bigger pan. Mix until it is perfectly combined and place aside for now.
- Zest the lemons with a zester or use a fine vegetable peeler. Make sure to only peel the outer, yellow layer of the lemon. Any white part of the lemon peel will turn your ice cream bitter.
- Return to the saucepan and add the sugar, salt and lemon zest. Gently heat over low to medium heat and stir until the sweetener is dissolved and all is well combined. Heat until warm but not boiling. Let the lemon zest infuse for about 5 minutes.
- Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove the zest and return the liquid back to the saucepan. If you do not care about having a perfectly white ice cream and want to keep the zest, then you can skip this step.
- Pour the arrow root powder and coconut mixture into the warm lemony milk and whisk. Increase the heat to medium and keep whisking – don’t leave the pot now. Make sure to whisk it now and then while making sure the heat is not too high. It is crucial never to let it come to a boil.
- In about 5-7 minutes the arrow root powder will thicken the mixture, and you will be left with a beautiful ice cream base that only needs chilling in the fridge. You will know it is done when you can draw a line with a fingertip on the back of a wooden spoon.
- I chill my ice cream base in a small metal bowl and place a plate on top of it. You will have a small layer of skin forming on the top of the mixture though you can prevent that by stirring it every 10 minutes while it cools down. It is not necessary though because the processing in the ice cream machine usually takes care of it.
- The ice cream base should be fully cooled down before you pour it into your ice cream maker. Add the lemon juice just before you process your ice cream base. Pour the juice into the base and whisk until evenly combined. I add it this late for two reasons. The first one is that I like the fresh taste of raw lemon juice that would get lost if you cook it in the base. The other reason is that it would curdle if you let it sit for too long. Now all you have to do is follow the instructions of your ice cream machine.
- Pour the ice cream into a suitable container and cover it with wax paper**. Leave it in the freezer for another 2 hours. Doing this will give you the perfect ice cream that can be scooped neatly. To serve take it out of the freezer for a few minutes to soften. Scoop it into bowls and serve with lemon zest, fresh berries, mint or simply on its own.
**Covering the ice cream base with wax paper or baking paper prevents ice crystals from forming on top of it.
*** Nutritional information is based on the products and brands that I use.