How to… Make the Best Vegan Ice Cream

We all love a big bowl of vegan ice cream during the hot summer months, agree?! I DO! Homemade ice cream is the best, cause you can play around with your favourite flavours and textures. And I love to make crazy combo’s.

BUT, there’s always a but… Sometimes when you store your homemade vegan ice cream, it becomes rock hard and impossible to scoop even if you let it sit on room temperature for a while. So frustrating! The best tip is to eat your freshly churned ice cream in one sitting. But being responsible ice cream eaters, we like to store some for later.

So why does homemade ice cream gets harder than supermarket ice cream? And how to prevent this?

Let’s start at the beginning, the ice cream base. When veganizing food, the original recipe is often a good starting point. Classic cooking techniques, ingredients,…

Fat.

Fat doesn’t freeze. While traditional ice cream recipes rely on eggs and cream, I like to use a combination of full fat coconut milk and cashew nuts. Sometimes I even add extra (coconut) oil to increase the fat content.

Why this combo? Coconut milk is a great base, but can it can make your ice cream taste coconutty. And though I love coconut, sometimes we just want our base to have a neutral flavour. The cashews add more fat to your ice cream, neutralise the coconut flavour and also provide an extremely rich and creamy taste.

Another option is to use non-diary cream with a high fat percentage. Or even an amount of sour cream.

Sugar.

I know, some people avoid sugar like the plague. But like fat, sugar doesn’t freeze. This is exactly what we want for our ice cream.

And sweetness, sugar gives your ice cream a delicious sweet and fragrant taste. And why bother eating ice cream if it’s a half good version?!

Stabilizers.

Supermarket ice cream uses stabilizers and anti-crystallization agents to keep them smooth and soft.

I like to use tapioca starch in my homemade version, giving your ice cream that gooey melty texture.

Alcohol.

Yet another ingredient that changes the freezing temperature of ice cream. Vodka is a neutral alcohol and won’t intrude with the flavour of your ice cream. You can also switch to another liquor that’s compatible with your favourite ice cream flavour. Thinking rum and raisins… Mmmm!

Now we have our ice cream base, let’s make it deliciously creamy and icy!

Chill the ice cream base.

Make sure that the ice cream is ice cold before you churn it. Chill the base overnight in the fridge. Do not get impatient, you will be rewarded!

Your machine.

Most home ice cream machines churn at a lower speed than commercial ones. They whip lots more air into the ice cream so supermarket ice cream will always be more fluffier.

Churning the ice cream.

If there’s one thing you need to know about ice cream, it hates changes in temperatures. So every time you take your container out of the freezer and defrost it until it’s scoopable, the ice crystals trapped inside the ice cream start to melt. No problem if you’re hosting an ice cream party… But when you re-freeze the ice cream the crystals become bigger, making the ice cream hard to scoop and less creamy.

Freeze the canister of your ice cream machine the day before to make sure it’s cold cold cold. Churn your ice cream until it gets a thick soft serve consistency. Stop churning and transfer the ice cream to a flat and wide freezer safe container to help the ice cream freeze faster. Then put your ice cream in the freezer immediately to prevent it from starting to melt and re-freeze. Freeze the ice cream for about 4 hours, until firm and scoopable.

About freezers.

Industrial ice cream is made in a blast chiller. It makes the ice cream freeze faster, resulting in smaller ice crystals and smoother ice cream (see above).

Your home freezer is designed to keep food really cold and deeply frozen. Perfect for store-bought food, not the ideal situation to freeze your ice cream. Unless you own an industrial freezer, just stick with your home freezer. Keep calm and churn on!

Ideally you should turn up the freezer temperature to store your homemade ice cream, keeping it soft and scoopable. Your peas will defrost though…

My final tip.

When the ice cream has the perfect consistency, scoop the entire lot and place the scoops of ice cream in an airtight container. This is my top tip to prevent the ice cream from freezing solid. No more bashing and beating with a hammer…

Crave ice cream? Just take a scoop (or two, or three…) out of the container and let it sit on room temperature for five to ten minutes. The perfect scoop of ice cream, ready to eat in no time!

And don’t forget, you can always make more ice cream!

Need ice cream? Check our index page for recipes!

It’s ice cream time!

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