Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Any-Fruit FroYo or Ice Cream

This version was made with peaches and 2% Greek yogurt.
I make tons and tons of ice cream and frozen yogurt all summer long. Sometimes. It’s like doing yoga or making mozzarella or taking fish oil capsules: a passion that I get all evangelical about—until I forget about it for months or years on end, and you’re like, “Do you want to go to that hot yoga class you totally forced me to become addicted to and now I’m obsessed and broke and exhausted all the time?” And I’m like, “What? Nah.” But this has been a big ice-cream summer for us, and we've loved it.

If you put out healthy toppings, such as fruit, toasted coconut, and slivered almonds. . .
. . . then you can let everyone top their bowls just how they like. . . 
. . . and it will be delicious. . . 
. . . and you can call it "dinner"!
I’ll make a custard base for vanilla or chocolate ice cream. But for fruit, I pretty much always use a version of the same, super-easy recipe: "Any Berry Ice Cream" from the late, great Barbara Tropp’s scrumptastic China Moon cookbook (longtime readers: this is the cookbook whence comes the famous, mandatory green vinaigrette). I love it because it’s perfect, it’s fast, it’s not obscenely rich, and it’s a lovely, light showcase for gorgeous, fragrant summer fruit. Plus, you don’t have to cook anything, and once you get the gist of the formula, you really can use pretty much any fruit. Okay, maybe not really any fruit. But any berry or stone fruit will work--peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.--or, even, flavorful melon or very ripe pears. Or you can also use citrus juice and some grated zest, boosted with extra sugar, to make incredible sherbet. Earlier in the summer, I made tons of strawberry ice cream and cherry ice cream. For the cherry, I whapped some of the pits with a hammer (like this) then included the kernels for their divine almondy flavor. Yum. I am planning to make raspberry ice cream later in the week.

We buy big bags of cheap, burstingly ripe scratch-and-dent peaches (aka "utility" peaches) from a local orchard and use the rest for jam.
photogenic detritus
If you don’t have an ice cream maker, and you have room in your freezer, at least during the summer, to store the inner container (it needs to be frozen before you use it), then this is the ice cream maker I recommend. Otherwise, I'll bet that Googling "how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker" would get you some pretty helpful ideas. It goes without saying: homemade is a much, much cheaper way than buying it to end up with a quart of fabulous ice cream.

Any-Fruit FroYo or Ice Cream
Make 1-plus quarts

Adapted from China Moon. This is a very flexible recipe: you want a shy 4 cups total mixture, but you can vary the amounts of fruit and dairy. You can use all yogurt, for excellent frozen yogurt (use whole-milk or 2%, since lower fat starts to get a bit thin and depressing), all half and half, for excellent light ice cream, or a combination. Or, for a more sherbety situation, you can use more fruit overall and less dairy. Barbara Tropp recommended sieving the fruit mixture to get rid of the seeds. Guess whether or not I do.

Enough very ripe berries or stone fruit to make a shy 2 cups pureed (about ¾ pound berries, weighed after trimming, or around 5 peaches, or around 1 pound of melon flesh, etc.)
½-1 cup sugar (to taste)
1 or 2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice
1 or 2 optional tablespoons of a complementary liqueur (Amaretto goes beautifully with peaches)
2 cups half and half or plain (whole-milk or 2%) Greek yogurt or a combination

Pit, hull, or seed your fruit, skin it if necessary, and cut it into pieces, as needed, to smash and measure it. If your peach skins are thin and not to fuzzy, you can simply scrub them and not worry too much. But if they seem like they're going to make a nuisance of themselves, then you can halve the peaches, and use a juicer to ream the flesh from the skins. This is untraditional but effective. If you're measuring soft berries, such as strawberries, smash them down in the measuring cup with a potato masher to get a better read of the amount. Melon can simple be cut from its rind and chunked.

In a blender or food processor, whir together the fruit and sugar until smooth. Add the lemon or lime juice, optional liqueur, and yogurt or half and half and whir again. Now taste. The flavor should be rounded and just a bit too sweet so that it will taste perfect when it’s frozen. Add more lemon juice and/or sugar, whir, and taste again.

Ideally, chill the mixture, covered, for an hour or longer before freezing. But I usually don’t leave myself time for this. Freeze according to the directions of your ice-cream maker. If you can’t get it firm enough, scoop into a glass container, cover, and freeze until firm.

I use the untraditional juicer method for peaches, which works just fine.
And I use either blender or food processor, depending on which is clean.
I like to give it a bit of time to firm up in the freezer.
Ben has to taste it before deciding exactly what balance of toppings he wants.


  1. One quick way to cool the mixture before ice-cream-ifying it is to make a quick ice bath in a bowl, and put the mixture in a gallon ziploc. If you're into that sort of thing. (Eating ice cream sooner. Yes!) Trick from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams book, which is full of so many lovely things, like Lime Cardamom Sorbet, Salty Caramel, the best coffee ice cream, etc.

  2. Yum! We can't wait to try it.

  3. Jamie2:57 PM

    "It’s like doing yoga or making mozzarella or taking fish oil capsules: a passion that I get all evangelical about—until I forget about it for months or years on end...."

    So glad I'm not the only one. I had a secret fear that having a *child* was going to be like that for me. Fortunately that hasn't turned out to be the case but she's only seven, so I suppose it's not too late....

    1. This made me laugh out loud, for real.

  4. I just discovered your blog, and I'm so happy I did!!! Yes, we have been making ice cream like mad this summer, and I too have abandoned the custard base (largely because we fired our old laying hens and the new ones are too little to lay and having to go out and buy eggs turns out to be more than I can manage). Did you know you can also make honey ice cream with just cream, milk, and honey? You have to heat the dairy so it won't curdle and then cool it down, so it's not as good as this one for a quick fix, but I am always delighted in the 3-ingredient-ness of it. And what is better than honey ice cream on blueberry crumble? Anyhow, I'll make this this weekend for guests and appear to be a domestic goddess in the eyes of all the under-3's in the house! Hooray!

  5. Hey, I have that exact ice cream maker, with two of the inner canisters (I got an extra at a yard sale for just $1!)waiting in my freezer! And I have apricots! And Greek yogurt! But no liqueur. I think I'll make this tomorrow!

  6. OK, I just have to tell you, and I trust you will understand that I say this with love, that I am SO RELIEVED to see a new post on here. I kept checking and re-checking your blog and going, "OMG, still the weed tacos, I can't stand it." (So sorry.) And then the gorgeous frozen yogurt photo! Yay! But then I thought, OMG, is that frozen yogurt sitting in a dish with a purslane pattern printed on it?!? Oh well--either way, I still love you even if you eat weeds on tortillas. :)

  7. Anonymous1:00 PM

    "complementary liqueur" All I can picture now is a bottle of Amaretto telling me that my hair looks great and it's taking all my strength not to giggle at my desk. (I know it's spelled differently but still.)
    What doesn't go with Amaretto?
    I've never made homemade ice cream before and am now craving peach sorbet. Now I'm off to search for an ice cream maker.

  8. You guys are killing me today. In a good way. Thank you.


  9. you can make ice cream in a plastic quart sized ziplock!! well... that and a gallon sized one filled with ice and salt. All it takes is about 5 minutes of shaking and then you have soft serve ice cream! It seems like a lot of working out until you realize that you can make your kids do it, even though they will probably think it's an adventure for only the first 30 seconds or so...

  10. Robin2:07 PM

    Weed tacos are killing me. And I'm sure I'm not the only one who's imagining what weed tacos would taste like....

  11. Angela3:06 PM

    I eyed up some purslane last week, I really did. But as it was growing weedily right next to a stable on one side, and a very free range sort of chicken hut on the other... I left it in peace and ate plain old cheese on toast. :)

  12. I'm going to have to try some of these other variations. I've been obsessed making banana "ice cream" for the past few months: I slice up bananas, freeze the slices for a few hours, and then pop them into our barely-does-the-bare-minimum blender and presto! Something yummy that has the consistency of ice cream and tastes vaguely banana/vanilla-ish.

  13. I totally spy purslane everywhere I go now and kind of size it up. I am sure I look every grand indeed and completely normal.

  14. huh huh huh....weed tacos....

  15. Cheryl6:48 PM

    Have you tried making your own yogurt yet? It's actually crazy easy. It was my big experiment this summer. I've thought of you guys a hundred times when I've made it because it sounds like something you'd do! :) (Afterall, you did make your own crackers for a while too..)

    I just about passed out when I saw the comment about Jeni's Book of Ice Creams. I used to work with her at the worlds best farmers market years ago!!! Did not know she has a book out. Wow. But if you are ever in Columbus Ohio, I strongly recommend that you take your family to The North Market. It's amazing and you might never leave. The original Jeni's is there.

  16. Michele7:30 AM

    **Unrelated to any current post*** The other day I had an unusual surplus of plums (normally my kids gobble them up before I have a chance to blink) and so I finally had the chance to make your plum cake from years back. YUM! Definitely a hit! (Now, while they will also eat quesadillas made from practically anything, and they are accustomed to my strange and unusual ways - including scouring the yard for violets to sugar in the spring, I don't think even I could get away with weed tacos!! lol...)

  17. ***Totally off topic*** but since I have spent my summer reading back through all of the BabyCenter and Dalai Mama posts, I need something to read! What other blogs do you guys read and love with the same devotion you have to this one?

  18. Hello! I've missed you these last few months! Having a new baby (plus other 4 kids) is really more tiring than I ever imagined. Guess what we had for lunch yesterday? Yes, your quesadillas, but with kale because my husband had a "great" of calling a company to spray our yard, so no purslane here.
    Guess what we're having for dinner tonight? Yep, fro-yo. Thanks a million!

    PS: The kids look totally adorable!

  19. just made melon fro-yo - - who knew I would finally find a use for that bottle of Midori languishing in the back of the lazy susan? ; )

  20. wow. it's really a good contribution to us guys not good at icecream, you know i did some cakes before but the taste it's not good, then i quit, so if you
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