Cultured Ice Cream

After struggling in vain to find an ice cream brand that really knows me and also meets my high standards for ingredients (simplicity and quality), I took matters into my own hands. I found an ice cream machine on craigslist for $20 (it’s one of those items that’s always available on CL). I then studied classic recipes and tweaked them to incorporate cultured dairy.

Using milk kefir and kefir cream as the base, the finished product is slightly tangier than ice cream, but not quite as tangy as frozen yogurt. I have also made it with un-kefired heavy cream and it also works great (if you’re in a hurry or don’t want to take the extra step to make kefir cream.)



Kefir Ice Cream
Prep time: 
Fermentation time: 
Total time: 
Yield: About 2 quarts
  • 3 cups whole milk kefir
  • 12 ounces/350 ml heavy cream or kefir cream
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup /125 ml (170g) honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or 2 whole vanilla beans
  • 1 tsp./5 ml sea salt
  • (Optional for Chocolate base) ¾ cup/190 ml (60g) Dutch process cocoa powder
Optional Mix-ins (total 1½ cups)
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup toasted coconut shreds (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • ½ cup hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, or other nuts or seeds, diced
  • 1 cup crushed fresh fruit (berries, peaches, cherries, etc.)
  1. Chill ice cream machine bowl at least 24 hours (up to 2-3 days).
Make milk Kefir
  1. See recipe
Make Kefir Cream
  1. In a pint-sized jar, add 12 ounces heavy cream and ¼ cup finished milk kefir. Stir occasionally. Wait 24-48 hours, or until cream thickens and tastes sour. See full recipe.
Prepare & Chill Base
  1. Add eggs and honey to a 3 quart or larger mixing bowl. Beat until incorporated.
  2. If using, split vanilla beans lengthwise, and scrape out the insides into mixing bowl. Add long bean pod pieces (3" or longer) to mixing bowl.
  3. Add all other ingredients before "Optional Mix-ins" section. Mix to combine.
  4. Place mixture in refrigerator to chill and flavors to meld up to 8 hours.
Make Ice Cream
  1. Fish out vanilla bean pods from mixture.
  2. Follow machine instructions for making ice cream.
  3. When mixture resembles soft-serve ice cream, add mix-ins. Let machine run a few more minutes.
  4. Scoop ice cream into jars or container. Harden in freezer at least four hours, preferably 8 hours.


Some flavor suggestions (amounts for 2 quart base)

Chocolate-cherry-chocolate chip

  • 3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh bing or Rainier cherries, pitted & chopped

Chocolate chip-hazelnut-toasted coconut

  • 3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut shreds, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, crushed

Black Hole [from which there IS NO ESCAPE]

  • 2 crushed, or frozen then thawed brown (very ripe) medium bananas
  • 1 cup soaked walnuts, crushed
  • 1/2 cup blackberries, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon activated charcoal


  • 1 cup soaked roasted almonds, crushed
  • 1 cup grass-fed toffee, broken into 1/4″ pieces
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Caramelized Stone Fruit-Miso-Toffee

  • 1 cup grass-fed toffee, broken into 1/4″ pieces
  • 1 cup caramelized peaches, nectarines, apricots, pureed
  • 1/4 cup white (sweet) miso

Banana-Cashew-Chocolate Chip

  • 2-3 ripe bananas, preferably frozen & thawed
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews
  • 3 to 3.5oz bar dark chocolate, chipped with a knife