Homemade lemon ice cream is a perfect summer treat

lemon ice cream
CC BY 2.0 arsheffield – Lemon ice cream in a bowl

This recipe is creamy, sweet, and wonderfully refreshing.

My sister Sarah Jane enjoys cooking at extreme temperatures. When she's not tossing bagels or pizza rounds into the 750-degree wood-fired oven at her popular summer restaurant in Ontario's cottage country, you can find her tinkering with the ice cream maker, blending fruits and herbs to make luscious frozen desserts.

Although she has tried every flavor under the sun, I think her most delicious recipe is simple lemon ice cream. I don't know where she got the recipe originally, but she has tweaked it to perfection. It is creamy and rich, almost tasting like creme brûlée in ice cream form, though not as sweet as lemon sorbet, which makes it more refreshing.

And ever since she gave me an ice cream maker for my birthday several years ago, I've been making lemon ice cream too. It's a special dinner party treat, not only because it's easy and uses ingredients that I always have on hand, but also because it's such a crowd pleaser. Guests are always impressed by homemade ice cream and can't believe how delicious it is.

Now that the weather is hot, it's a perfect time to share this recipe. If you don't have an ice cream maker, here's your excuse to pick one up. (You can find them second-hand online for very little money.) It's a fun little gadget to have, as long as you're committed to experimenting with it.

Sarah Jane's Lemon Ice Cream

  • 2 cups whipping cream, separated
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • grated zest of 3-4 lemons
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Put 1 cup whipping cream, milk, sugar, salt, and grated lemon zest in a heavy saucepan. Heat until tiny bubbles form around the edge and sugar is dissolved. Do not boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit 1 hour.

Lightly beat the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl. Reheat cream mixture to the tiny bubble stage. Temper the eggs by adding a few spoonfuls of hot cream mixture and mixing well, then dump it all back into the pot.

Heat slowly until it thickens slightly. It should be thick enough to cover the back of a wooden spoon and leave a path if you drag your finger through it. Don’t thicken too much, only to a pudding consistency, or it will get grainy.

Pour the remaining cup whipping cream into a heatproof bowl. Place strainer over top. Strain the cream/egg mixture into the cream. Mix.

Add the freshly squeezed lemon juice. Chill in fridge for several hours. Churn in ice cream maker for 20-25 minutes, then transfer to container to freeze.

Variations: Instead of lemon rind, you can infuse with 1 cup crushed fresh mint leaves or 1 cup coffee beans crushed with a rolling pin.

Homemade lemon ice cream is a perfect summer treat
This recipe is creamy, sweet, and wonderfully refreshing.

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