I came up with this kaffir lime and vanilla ice cream recipe recently to use a batch of limes off my tree. I planted the kaffir lime for it’s leaves, a key ingredient of many Thai dishes. Fortunately it’s a very vigorous little tree because I’m forever pulling leaves from it for red curry, green curry, Thai fish cakes, Laksa and any other vaguely Thai inspired dish I decide to experiment with.
In the first season I was so excited to see a big batch of knobbly limes appear on my little tree but my hopes were harshly dashed when I harvested them and found them dry with almost no juice at all inside. Since then I’d pulled off the limes, thrown them away and focused on using the leaves.
At least I did until a couple of months back when I was visiting Hervey Bay and popped into the Koala farmers markets and found a woman at the market was selling them for 50c each! Curiosity finally won out over discretion and I decided to ask what the fruit could be used for. Anything where you want the flavour she told me, some restaurants apparently prefer the grated rind over the leaves for its intense flavour.
A light went on and as soon as I got home I rushed out to check my tree for any remaining fruit that I hadn’t scrapped. Fortunately, I hadn’t given it a hard culling and I still had a few for testing out in new recipes, including this ice cream.
I have to admit to feeling more than a bit of an idiot for all those foodie opportunities that had been missed but better late than never with these things.
So maybe you’re wondering why make ice cream from scratch at all? There are some delicious gourmet ice cream options available at the food store but they do still seem to have a lot of additives. I’ve found it difficult to find, even in the premium brands, ones that are made with a focus on whole natural ingredients without artificial colour, stabilizers and flavourings. Most of those numbered ‘ingredients’ I now need to avoid for medical reasons.
Even if you don’t HAVE to make your food from scratch it can be worth it sometimes for the results and for me ice cream is one of those things. It’s a treat I don’t eat that often so I want it to be extra special when I do. It’s also super easy, takes only a few ingredients and allows you to incorporate the freshest produce from the season.
Which reminds me, we had the first breaths of our cold season in Brisbane over the past week and you know what that means … strawberries are on their way! Yum! But anyway back to the kaffir limes for now.
Now to make great ice cream you do need an ice cream maker. OK I know, I hate single-use kitchen gadgets more than most but I do use an ice cream maker. You can either get a freezable bowl attachment for your mixer ( the price is a bit on the high-end) or you can pick up a simple stand-alone version pretty cheap from your local department or kitchen store. Mine was a Flybuys freebie and it came with us from New Zealand so must be 10 years old now and still working perfectly.
You could I guess make no-churn ice cream but (and this is my personal opinion) you don’t get the same rich, smooth and creamy result. The reason is that the water molecules from the eggs, milk and cream will freeze into large crystalline structures given half a chance. Those large crystals are what will make your dessert hard and icy. The process of churning breaks those crystals and stops them from forming giving you the perfect result. As I said, it’s just my opinion but if I’m spending time in the kitchen I want the best result for the time I invest.
This kaffir lime and vanilla ice cream recipe is delicious or you can add your choice of fresh fruit to the base mixture. It has all the creamy indulgence of good ice cream, it’s easy to make and has a tangy refreshing flavour that makes it the perfect little treat on a summers day, or perhaps to cool the taste buds after an especially hot Thai curry.
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