Fresh Blueberry Ice Cream (Dairy Free)
Two Saturdays ago, we hopped in the car and drove up to Bow, WA to pick blueberries. I envisioned coming home with a huge bucket and having that wonderful seasonal quandary: what to do with all of these berries?! Instead, we came home with a pound and a half: It turns out that picking berries in the hot August sun with an active baby is a slow endeavor — and it’s possible I kept snacking on our loot. When we got home (after blueberry ice cream sandwiches and a stop at the OshKosh B’Gosh outlet for some baby suspenders) I knew exactly what we’d do with our “haul:” fresh blueberry ice cream. And hopefully, if we had a few leftover, pancakes the next morning.
We did have pancakes the next morning. And even the next morning after that. I’ll admit we’ve been using a mix that we both love (Hayden Flour Mills, a previous client of Sam’s, makes killer whole grain pancake mixes). In addition to a little help in the mornings, we’ve also been ordering dinner from one of those make-it-yourself meal services more often than I’d care to admit. For awhile there, we seemed to have the work, baby, dinner shuffle down, but for two people to get in a full workday, perhaps exercise, and come home to make a homemade dinner? These days, that’s a tall order. Even with pancake mixes and pre-made dinner, we are generally feeling chronically behind. I gather this is something that never goes away when you have kids. And really, I hate to make it specific to kids: I know many of you with bulging inboxes and demanding jobs feel this way, too. We’re all in the thick of it.
Last week I texted my mom after getting home with a trunk full of new plants and potting soil, feeling triumphant that I finally got out into the backyard and dressed up the patio a bit. There were bursts or orange and yellow and lazy, lingering swathes of blue. My mom sweetly noted that, judging from the photograph, they all looked like annuals, reminding me that they will all die. Soon. Like perhaps next month. Apparently most people plant their annuals in late spring or early summer. Not August. Like I said, we’re a few steps behind over here. At least right about now, despite a rather meek blueberry haul, we’ve got some homemade ice cream to show for it all.
The original recipe for this ice cream was actually for a raspberry flavor in the wonderful new cookbook Icy, Creamy, Healthy, Sweet by Christine Chitnis. Last month Christine came to Seattle to promote the book and I had the chance to go to a little ice cream shindig at The Pantry in the middle of the day in the middle of the week which, when you have two businesses and a baby, basically felt like the equivalent of jetting off to Hawaii. And getting to hear Christine’s philosophy on frozen desserts (natural sugars, fresh fruits, non-dairy bases) had me so inspired that when I got home I really wasn’t sure where to begin.
For the record, I’m not vegan and I happen to really, really love real dairy ice creams. But I also love anything with coconut milk, so I’m generally a sucker for dairy-free ice creams, too (you are possibly sensing that, in this department, I’m not terribly discerning). I was also really intrigued by Christine’s formula: She relies on cashew cream in addition to coconut milk to make her ice cream super creamy and scoopable.
I think one big thing that can turn people off of dairy-free ice cream is the fact that so many get hard and icy once frozen. Christine notes that most commercial ice creams are nice and soft straight out of the freezer thanks to stabilizers or large ice cream machines that can incorporate more air. For that reason, this ice cream (and many homemade recipes, for that matter) is best right after you churn it; if you freeze and serve it later, just plan to allow it to thaw for 10-15 minutes to bring it back to its original creamy state — the perfect amount of time to sit back and admire those soon-to-die annuals.
Fresh Blueberry Ice Cream (Dairy Free)
- Yield: 1 Heaping Pint
- Prep time: 15 mins
- Cook time: 5 mins
- Inactive time: 4 hrs 20 mins
- Total time: 4 hrs 40 mins
This recipe calls for arrowroot starch (or arrowroot flour) as a thickener because it has a neutral flavor and stands up really well to freezing — so it helps prevent ice crystals from forming. It should be readily available in the spice aisles of most well-stocked groceries, but if you can’t find it, I imagine that cornstarch will do in a pinch. Christine originally used raspberries here, so feel free to use any berry you’d like. She also added 3 ounces of chopped dark chocolate, but I left it out this time around to let the flavor of the fresh berries really shine. Last, do note that the cashew cream takes a day to pull together (it’s all inactive time, but the cashews do need an overnight soak, so plan for that).
Adapted from: Icy, Creamy, Healthy, Sweet
For the Cashew Cream:
For the Ice Cream Base:
To make the cashew cream: Place cashews in a bowl and add enough cold filtered water to cover them completely. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight to soak.
Drain the cashews and rinse well. Place them in a blender with 1 cup cold filtered water and the salt and blend on high speed for several minutes, until smooth.
If you’re not using a high speed blender (like a Vitamix), you may need to strain through a fine-mesh sieve to strain away any remaining solid. As a note, I have a very standard blender and didn’t have to do this step. Mine blended up just fine. Store in a covered jar for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
Make the ice cream: Rinse and dry blueberries and place in a large bowl. Toss with lemon juice and set aside.
Pour 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk into a small bowl, add the arrowroot starch, and whisk until dissolved. In a small saucepan, combine the arrowroot slurry, the remaining coconut milk, the vanilla, salt and honey. Place over low heat, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the honey is dissolved into the coconut milk, 3-5 minutes. Remove from the pan and allow the mixture to cool.
Pour the berries into the base of a blender and add the coconut milk mixture. Add the cashew cream and blend until berries are broken up and cashew cream and coconut milk are incorporated completely. I like to see little bits of blueberry in my ice cream so I didn’t completely pulverize mine, but if you like a smoother consistency, feel free to do so. Cover the mixture and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You can eat the ice cream right away for a softer scoop, or freeze for about 2 hours for a firmer consistency.
Healthy Comfort Food
Thai Carrot, Coconut and Cauliflower Soup
People describe raising young kids as a particular season in life. I hadn't heard this until we had a baby, but it brought me a lot of comfort when I'd start to let my mind wander, late at night between feedings, to fears that we'd never travel internationally again or have a sit-down meal in our dining room. Would I ever eat a cardamom bun in Sweden? Soak in Iceland? I loved the heck out of our tiny Oliver, but man what had we done?! Friends would swoop in and reassure us that this was just a season, a blip in the big picture of it all. They promised we'd likely not even remember walking around the house in circles singing made-up songs while eating freezer burritos at odd hours of the day (or night). And it's true.
Oliver is turning two next month, and those all-encompassing baby days feel like a different time, a different Us. In many ways, dare I say it, Toddlerhood actually feels a bit harder. Lately Oliver has become extremely opinionated about what he will and will not wear -- and he enforces these opinions with fervor. Don't get near the kid with a button-down shirt. This week at least. He's obsessed with his rain boots and if it were up to him, he'd keep them on at all times, especially during meals. He insists on ketchup with everything (I created a damn monster), has learned the word "trash" and insists on throwing found items away on his own that really, truly are not trash. I came to pick him up from daycare the other day and he was randomly wearing a bike helmet -- his teacher mentioned he'd had it on most of the day and really, really didn't want to take it off. The kid has FEELINGS. I love that about him, and wouldn't want it any other way. But, man it's also exhausting.
Cheesy Quinoa Cauliflower Bake
I just finished washing out Oliver's lunchbox and laying it out to dry for the weekend. My favorite time of day is (finally) here: the quiet of the evening when I can actually talk to Sam about our day or sit and reflect on my own thoughts after the inevitable dance party or band practice that precedes the bedtime routine lately. Before becoming pregnant for the second time, I'd have had a glass of wine with the back door propped open right about now -- these days though, I have sparkling water or occasionally take a sip from one of Sam's hard ciders. Except now the back door's closed and we even turned on the heat for the first time yesterday. The racing to water the lawn and clean the grill have been replaced by cozier dinners at home and longer baths in the evening. You blink and it's the first day of fall.
Stuffed Shells with Fennel and Radicchio
I'd heard from many friends that buying a house wasn't for the faint of heart. But I always shrugged it off, figuring I probably kept better files or was more organized and, really, how hard could it be? Well, I've started (and stopped) writing this post a good fifteen times which may indicate something. BUT! First thing's first: we bought a house! I think! I'm pretty sure! We're still waiting for some tax transcripts to come through and barring any hiccough with that, we'll be moving out of our beloved craftsman in a few weeks and down the block to a great, brick Tudor house that we wanted the second we laid eyes on it. The only problem: it seemed everyone else in Seattle had also laid eyes on it, and wanted it equally as much. I'm not really sure why the homeowner chose us in the end. Our offer actually wasn't the highest, but apparently there were some issues with a few of them. We wrote a letter introducing ourselves and describing why we'd be the best candidates and why we were so drawn to the house; we have a really wonderful broker who pulled out all the stops, and after sifting through 10 offers and spending a number of hours deliberating, they ended up going with ours. We were at a friend's book event at the time when Sam showed me the text from our broker and I kind of just collapsed into his arms. We were both in ecstatic denial (wait, is this real?! Did we just buy a house?) and celebrated by getting chicken salad and potato salad from the neighborhood grocery store and eating it, dazed, on our living room floor. Potato salad never tasted so good.
Smoky Butternut Squash and Three Bean Chili
If your house is anything like ours, last week wasn't our most inspired in terms of cooking. We're all suffering from the post-election blues -- the sole upside being Oliver's decision to sleep-in until 7 am for the first time in many, many months; I think he's trying to tell us that pulling the covers over our heads and hibernating for awhile is ok. It's half-convincing. For much of the week, instead of cooking, there'd been takeout pizza and canned soup before, at week's end, I decided it was time to pour a glass of wine and get back into the kitchen. I was craving something hearty and comforting that we could eat for a few days. Something that wouldn't remind me too much of Thanksgiving because, frankly, I can't quite gather the steam to start planning for that yet. It was time for a big bowl of chili.
To Talk Porridge
Porridge is not the sexiest of breakfasts, it's true. It doesn't have a stylish name like strata or shakshuka, and it doesn't have perfectly domed tops like your favorite fruity muffin. It doesn't crumble into delightful bits like a good scone nor does it fall into buttery shards like a well-made croissant. But when you wake up and it's 17 degrees outside (as it has been, give or take a few, for the last week), there's nothing that satisfies like a bowl of porridge or oatmeal. It's warm and hearty and can be made sweet or savory with any number of toppings. The problem? Over the years, it's gotten a bad rap as gluey or gummy or just downright boring or dutiful -- and it's because not everyone knows the secrets to making a great pot of warm morning cereal. So let's talk porridge (also: my cookbook comes out this month! So let's take a peek inside, shall we?)
Such a fun trip, and your photos turned out beautifully! We ended up just straight up eating all of our blueberries, but I wish I had some left to whip up some blueberry ice cream. That color! xo
Thanks, friend! Yeahhhhh.... I wish we'd picked just a few more :) Super fun trip - so glad we went!
Jean would of loved this, dairy free! Looks tasty and l love the color!
Awww, Patty! You're right! Dairy free was critical for Jean :) xoxo
We picked 9 pounds and they are nearly gone. In fact, I went digging through the freezer just today and couldn't find them so perhaps they are indeed gone. There are NEVER enough. You've inspired me to 1. make ice cream and 2. grab that book and take a deeper look.
9 pounds! Magic! Next time we need to be a bit more ambitious ... I had big plans for scones and muffins, but we'll have to stock up at the farmers market instead. And yes, the book is great! I want to make the coffee frozen yogurt next.
whatif you don't have an ice cream maker?
Hi, m - This recipe does require an ice cream maker, sadly. There are a number of recipes online that don't require one, so hopefully you can find one you're excited about. Best of luck!
Heidi - Apples Under My Bed
Another lovely recipe, thank you, Megan! Really, truly excited for spring & summer now. Also a big fan of pancakes in our house, Joan has been loving banana buckwheat+spelt pancakes I've' been making. Bring on blueberry pancakes too! I don't know if I ever told you, but I gifted some friends of mine who live in the USA your granola after they had their bubba. And they absolutely loved it. My friend is from Australia and found it hard to find granola/muesli that was tasty and not too sweet in the US, so was thrilled to find Marge x
Aww that's so sweet, Heidi. Thank you so much for thinking of Marge + I'm so glad they enjoyed it. Such a good new momma / parent gift, isn't it? We had friends help us with dinners, but I found snacks / breakfast sorely neglected. I had a friend send breakfast cookies that I ended up snacking on during those early morning feeds and I was so appreciative. Yes to whole grain pancakes! My favorite. Can't wait for Oliver to be able to eat a bit more interesting, solid foods. Thanks for the sweet comment, Heidi. xo
Ok, so what's the deal with filtered water? Will tap water adversely affect the outcome? I'm excited about this recipe, I can't eat dairy right now while I'm nursing our newborn, and I miss ice cream so much!!
Hi, Amy! I totally used regular tap water and should probably make a note of that so people know. I'm not really certain the science behind the filtered water but go forth with your normal tap water and all will be well. Sorry about the dairy (but yay for nursing!). Thankfully lots of good dairy-free options out there (have you tried Coconut Bliss brand ice cream? So good!)
Hello! I'm making this ice cream tonight for a dinner party (so excited!). I bought frozen blueberries because I just couldn't stomach the price of two cups of fresh blueberries. I am confident it *can* work with frozen blueberries, but do you have any ideas for how this might affect the recipe?
I'll let you know how it turns out if you're interested =)
Geesh, Rachel I don't know!!! I hope they won't be icy and hard ... please do update us as I'm curious (and I feel you on the price of fresh berries). Have fun!
Hi Megan! It turned out so well. I didn't change anything in how I did the recipe except that I didn't let the blueberries sit with the lemon juice - I just added them both to the blender once I had made the coconut milk mixture. The texture was perfectly creamy with no icy crystals.
Unrelated to the frozen blueberries, I also added the zest of half a lemon to give it an extra tangy kick! Everyone loved the ice cream and said it tasted like blueberry cheesecake. In the future, I might try candied lemon peel as a mix-in =)
Fantastic! I'm so glad to hear this, and looking forward to being able to make this year-round then, rather than only during fresh berry season. Thanks for the update, Rachel!
Honesty time, this recipe is a no. I make homemade vegan ice cream all of the time, this ice cream recipe has the weirdest consistency I’ve ever experienced. I’m blaming the consistency on the cashew cream, and yes, I have a Vitamix. The ice cream that resulted from this recipe was oddly crumbly, it wasn’t creamy AT ALL. It kept breaking apart and crumbling when I tried to scoop it. It was even crumbly in the mouth. Also, honey is NOT vegan. I used maple syrup instead. This recipe lacked sweetness and I just did not find it very satisfying . I wouldn’t make this again.
So sorry you didn't like the recipe, Asha. Gosh I found it super creamy. My only thought is I've found you really have to let dairy-free ice cream soften at room temp before serving it for a good 10 minutes (or else it really can be crumbly). Anyway, apologies this wasn't a favorite for you.
I realized that in my review I mentioned that honey is not vegan, I realize this recipe says “dairy-free”, it does not mention vegan, my mistake.