Saturday, June 03, 2006

General Guidelines and Advice

1) Amounts. My ice cream maker, like many on the market, holds just over one quart of finished ice cream. Therefore you’ll find that my recipes make roundabouts one quart of frozen delight. To achieve this, you’ll need to have your ingredients add up to about one quart. For example, four cups of soy milk plus sweeteners and flavors; two cups soy milk, one and a half cups soy creamer, and one-half cup of nuts, plus sweeteners and flavors. You get the picture.

I’m not always right at one quart, but usually pretty close. If it looks like your one-quart ice cream maker is about to overflow when you put in the ingredients I call for, just downsize a little.

2) What kind of “milk”? Since this is vegan ice cream, you have a lot of leeway in what you use. You can use soy, rice, almond, hazelnut, oat, coconut, or whatever non-dairy milk you like. If I’m making a coconut ice cream, I always use coconut milk. Otherwise, I generally use a combination of soy milk and soy creamer. The soy creamer adds a some extra fat, which makes richer ice cream. If you want really rich ice cream, use all soy creamer. Or make a coconut ice cream with full-fat coconut milk and swoon with fatty delight. If you want low-fat, go for all soy milk. You could even use reduced fat soy milk if you wanted. Remember, though, the less fat the ice cream has, the less rich it is likely to be. Health vs. taste. Why is life so hard?

3) Arrowroot. Arrowroot is a starch that you can use to thicken sauces, pies, or (in this case) ice cream. You can probably find it in most health food stores in either the baking or spice department. I recommend buying it in the bulk section because it’s probably cheapest that way.

Arrowroot is a tricky ingredient. You must heat it to activate the thickening powers, but if it gets too hot, you kill the magic and you get not thickening. I’ve worked out a way to get this perfect every time, though.

First, mix the arrowroot with about ¼ cup of the milk you’re using. Set this aside. You’ll be heating the rest of the non-dairy and dissolving the sugar into it. Let this liquid come to a boil, then take it off the heat and immediately pour in the arrowroot slurry. Stir it so the mixture gets even distributed. You should feel the thickening effects of the arrowroot almost immediately. It’ll be even more obvious when the liquid cools down (which you have to let it do before you put it into your ice cream maker).

4) Other recipes. I should note that there is an entire book of vegan ice cream recipes called Vice Cream. I haven’t purchased the book because the recipes frequently call for cashew nuts/cashew milk as the liquid base, and I’m allergic to cashews. As much as I love ice cream, I love continuing to live even more.


  1. I'm guessing that if you are allergic to cashews, you are probably allergic to peanuts. But you should try this ice cream with soy nut butter (since you don't seem to be allergic to soy) and let me know how it goes.

    Peace out! ~Rosa-Maria

  2. Actually, I'm only allergic to cashews. Which is good, because I think I lived on peanut butter sandwiches growing up.

  3. Anonymous10:10 AM

    My husband is allergic to dairy and soy - and I've never found a rice creamer. Could these recipies be made with all rice milk instead of soy milk and soy creamer? Thanks!

  4. To Cyndi:

    Absolutely! You can use rice, oat, hazelnut, coconut, or any kind of non-dairy milk you like.

    The reason I use soy milk + creamer is because 1) I love soy milk, and 2) the creamer adds extra fat, which of course is tasty. :)

    I've heard dreamy things about using homemade cashew milk, but obviously I can't try that with my allergy. (Don't allergies suck?)

    Anyway, definitely feel free to substitute any plant-based milk for the soy. Let me know how it turns out!

  5. Anonymous4:37 AM

    I have a question about arrowroot! I thought that arrowroot didn't have to be heated that much to activate it's thickening-ness (technical vocab!) but that it loses it becomes less thick as it cools. Since ice-cream is seriously cool, wouldn't this pose a problem? I could be completely wrong (and often am), especially as your icecreams have all worked, but I am curious anyway!

    Also, can you still make the icecreams without an ice cream maker? I really want to! I have made kulfi in the past (an Indian ice cream) but that doesn't need churning so it's pretty easy.

  6. Jenni--

    I think arrowroot is a very tricky ingredient. It has to be activated at a hot temperature, but can still be thick when it cools. Of course, I don't really know much about arrowroot--I just started including it in my ice cream recipes because I'd seen it done in other cookbooks.

    I imagine that you could make ice cream without an ice cream maker, but it could be harder. My best guess would be to freeze the mixture and then chop it up in a blender or food processor. It might not be as "fluffy" this way (for lack of a better word). Or you could make it like you do kulfi and see how it turns out. (I've never made kulfi, so I don't know how it's done!) Let me know how it turns out!

  7. Anonymous11:29 AM

    well, kulfi is not churned at all so it is quite different in texture to refular ice cream. Thanks for your advice anyway!

  8. Hi! I am so excited to have stumbled upon your site. I've been scouring for ice cream recipes that don't use dairy, and yours look fantastic...

    I tried the blueberry cheesecake recipe tonight, and I'm not sure I have very good arrowroot powder, or maybe I did something wrong. I followed your instructions exactly by mixing the 2 Tbspn into soy milk, then when the stovetop mixture had just come to a boil, I took it off the heat and added the arrowroot. But nothing thickened. So, I reheated quite quickly and boiled a little more, and it got a little thicker, but it was still pretty runny. I was expecting it to get jelly-like almost like when adding corn starch to liquids...

    Is there any way of telling if it's the arrowroot? Or if it was thick enough and I just didn't think so? Any ideas??? I'd appreciate any feedback on this..

    Oh, and I don't have an ice cream maker, so I put it in a jar with lots of salt and ice and sealed the whole thing in a can, and rolled...

  9. To Peace Plum,

    I think you did everything right. The arrowroot thickens it just a little, certainly not as thick as jelly or even yogurt. The best way I can describe it is that you'll feel a teensy bit more "drag" or resistance on your spoon as you stir the liquid after adding the arrowroot. It gets thicker when it cools, so don't worry.

  10. Anonymous3:56 PM

    Could you use anything else besides Arrowroot? What about cornstarch, would that mess up the flavor?


  11. To Anonymous:

    You could try using cornstarch instead. Or just don't use anything and see how it goes. Let me know if you have success with either method!

  12. Anonymous7:27 AM

    I just got an ice cream maker and I love your blog! All your flavors are perfect...but I can't seem to get the texture right. My ice cream maker will thicken the ice cream quite a bit, but it's still really mushy- like soft serve. So then I put it in the freezer to harden up and it gets all ice crystal-y. Do you eat your ice cream right away? If not, how do you prevent crystalline ice cream?

  13. Hi Liz!

    The soft-serve texture is what you'll get from an ice-cream maker at home. I usually put it into the freezer to harden and store for future yummies. It will harden more than store-bought ice cream, so I usually microwave it for about 10 seconds before serving. Also, the higher the fat content, the less crystal-y the ice cream will be. So if you use, say, full-fat coconut milk, this will be less of an issue.

  14. Anonymous6:59 AM

    I just stumbled across your blog, and I love it! Vegan ice cream is a passion of mine. Thank you for all of the great recipes. I wanted to let you know- even though you are allergic to cashews, you may want to check out the Vice Cream book. I bought it recently, and it actually contains two versions of most recipes. The first half does use cashews, but the second half converts the recipes to raw. Since cashews are incompatible with a raw diet (something about how they are shelled involves cooking), you could use the raw recipes instead. I actually prefer some of the raw recipes, since the cashew flavor can overpower the lighter-flavored ice creams. Thanks again!

  15. Anonymous10:01 AM

    Has anyone tried the thickener instead of arrowroot? I have a new Cusinart ice cream maker and wonder if it'll work better for texture? Thx

  16. To anonymous:

    I don't know much about the thickener you mention, but I checked it out. It seems to be a mixture of various vegetable-based gums, including xanthan gum. In the cookbook The Voluptous Vegan, the author says that you can replace the arrowroot with xanthan gum.

    To do so, omit the arrowroot. After the mixture has been heated to dissolve the sugar and/or melt any chocolate, blend the liquid in batches in your blender or food processer (careful--it's hot!!!) with 2 teaspoons xantham gum. Also add the vanilla extract or other extracts at this point. This should thicken the ice cream mixture.

  17. Anonymous9:12 AM

    I recently began converting my family veganism and I am excited to find your ice cream recipes. However, I am curious what sugar you use as sugar is usually considered not vegan friendly. I usually use brown rice syrup to sweeten the things I bake. Do you think it would work?
    Thanks :)

  18. To Anonymous:

    I could try rice syrup...I haven't, but I'm just making this up as I go along!

    As for your concerns about sugar, there are many sugars available that do not use bone char in the refining process. Also, I would encourage you (and any other new vegans!) to check out this link: Is Refined Sugar Vegan?

    Just some food for thought...

  19. Anonymous11:26 PM

    Hi Agnes-

    Wow- I am so excited to have found your site! Just like Peace Plum, I have been searching for good vegan ice cream recipes and I think I have finally found them. I, too, tried the Blueberry Cheesecake recipe, and I used agave nectar in place of sugar. It worked well and was super-delicious. I can't wait to try your other recipes. Thank you :)

  20. Anonymous7:00 AM

    my tofu ice cream tastes awful....
    i'm using packaged tofu block and eden joy original soymilk, unflavored... vanilla extract and fructose... my thickener is agar, agar...
    the finished product has a nasty taste
    can it be the agar, agar?

  21. I too am looking for dairy free ice cream recipes; preferably non soy/coconut/cashew ones.
    You mention that you are allergic to cashews and therefor do not use the Vice Cream recipes. I just checked this book out from the library and was wondering if macadamia nuts could be a rich creamy smooth substitute for the cashews which both my husband and I try to avoid.
    I know it's not your job to try out all the various permutations of recipes, but was hoping that maybe you had done some more experimenting since you posted this FAQ blog.

  22. Ajax Mommy--

    I imagine that macadamia nuts or hazelnuts would both work in Vice Cream recipes. I haven't tried, but would love to hear how it turns out for you. Also, any of my recipes can be made using any non-dairy milk, so you might try rice, oat, hazlenut, or almond milk if you want to take a shortcut (since you can find them pre-packaged) and not create your own nut milk for Vice Cream.

  23. Anonymous11:04 PM

    I hope I can help regarding thickening (and preventing ice crystals). Arrowroot handles freezing well and corn starch doesn't. But tapioca handles freezing well, so it's a good alternative. Tapioca is probably the closest to arrowroot and is easily found (and cheap) in Asian grocers (like 70 US cents for a pound).

    As Agnes noted, you can overcook any starch thickener and all the sudden it is thin. Mix any of them with a cold liquid and whisk into a hot one. Tapioca and arrowroot thicken at lower temps than cornstarch, so heat only until the mixture is thickened and then remove immediately.

    You can use gums, too. Xanthan and guar are routinely used in commercial ice cream. Guar is cheaper and easier to find. Both gums remove ice crystals and provide a nice "mouthfeel". They are about 8 times more powerful than cornstarch (in the thickening department), so you don't need much.

    Thanks for all the experimenting and posting, Agnes.

  24. Do you know which of your recipes are gluten-free? I just found out I'm allergic to gluten, so I still don't know what all I need to stay away from.

    Thank you!

  25. Erika--

    I just wrote a new post about gluten-free recipes in response to your comment. Thank you for this question!

  26. Anonymous10:53 PM

    Hi! Thanks for this recipe :)
    I was just wondering, is there any way you can make this without using an ice cream maker. Is it able to be just frozen?

  27. To anonymous--

    Yes, you can make the recipes without an ice cream maker. See this post.

  28. Anonymous11:45 PM

    Thankyou very much!! :)

  29. Anonymous3:17 PM

    Great blog. Absolutely indispensable. I'll be making avocado ice cream tonight.

    One comment: I use egg replacer with success. Same amounts.

  30. The texture of my soy milk gelato taste like yoghurt that are froze solid and then melted or ricotta. Grainy but not ice crystal type of grainy. Do you experience the same with yours?

    I am using 500ml of soy milk with 2 tbsp of arrowroot powder

  31. Ai Leen--

    You could try using less arrowroot to see if that helps. You also might want to check out my FAQ to read up on the very common "texture problem."

  32. I really appreciate all the recipes and tips/tricks you have put up here and how prompt you are at getting back to those of us who have asked questions. I have been meaning for some time to come back here and post on my experimental failures & successes with vegan ice cream.

    I don't know if you remember me asking if other nuts could be used in place of cashews, but now that I have experimented with several (pecans, macadamia nuts, almonds, pistachios and peanuts) I can report that NO, other nuts do NOT puree into the truly smooth and creamy consistency that cashews do. *bummer*. They can make interesting frozen deserts, but they aren't as creamy and they all have a gritty texture. (the macadamia nut puree was AMAZING in some waffles I made, LOL)

    BUT! My BIG success with vegan ice cream is RICE! I make "Rice Cream" all the time (sometimes 2-3x/week in the summer) for my husband who likes it much better than both commercially available rice ice cream; he even says it's better than "real" traditional dairy ice cream.

    If you are interested I have a bunch of flavor varieties we have tried, but the base is always the same:

    I puree 1 cup of cooked white rice (brown does NOT work) with 2 cups of rice milk until it is very smooth and creamy (a bit like runny pudding), then I add in whatever flavorings/mix-ins we are craving and 1/2 cup of liquid fat; you can actually leave out the fat if you think you'll eat it all in one setting, but leftovers will be a brick in the freeer if you don't add some fat. I have used walnut oil, coconut oil, vegetable oil, palm oil (don't recommend this one) and butter (our family is not actually vegan).

    We had a big ice cream social at church a few weeks ago and several people brought homemade ice creams, I made 2 traditional and 2 Rice Creams and of all the ice cream choices available, the 2 rice creams I made (chocolate peanut butter and mocha) were THE most popular, no one in the church even realized they were vegan!

    Oh, and aparently not all rice is created the same, some will puree easier/faster/more completely than others. The one I use is Golden Star white jasmine rice

  33. How much arrowroot powder do you add for thickening a quart of homemade ice cream?

    1. Zoltan: As I mention at the beginning of this post, most of my recipes equal out to about a quart of ice cream. So use the amount of arrowroot called for in the recipe. :)