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 sites like CL, OfferUp or Letgo). I then studied classic recipes and tweaked them to incorporate cultured dairy.

Using milk kefir and possibly kefir cream as the base (it works fine too with uncultured heavy cream), the finished product is slightly tangier than ice cream, but not quite as tangy as frozen yogurt.

I usually make the recipe with non-cultured heavy cream, and it works just fine (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
Yield: About 1.5 quarts/liters
  • 3 cups (720 ml) whole milk kefir
  • 12 ounces (350 ml) heavy cream or kefir cream
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup / 125 ml / 170g honey
  • 2 tsp. (10 ml) vanilla extract, or 2 whole vanilla beans
  • ½ tsp. (3 ml) fresh grated lemon zest.
  • 1 tsp. (5 ml) fine sea salt
  • (Optional for Chocolate base) ¾ cup/190 ml (60g) Dutch process cocoa powder
Optional Mix-ins (total 1½ cups or 350 ml)
  • ½ cup (120 ml) chocolate chips
  • ½ cup (120 ml) toasted coconut shreds (sweetened or unsweetened)
  • ½ cup (120 ml) hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, or other nuts or seeds, diced
  • 1 cup (250 ml) 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 /kefir
Make Kefir Cream (Optional)
  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 pitcher or mixing bowl with a pouring spout. Beat until incorporated.
  2. If using vanilla beans, split beans lengthwise, and scrape out the insides into mixing bowl. Add long bean pod pieces (3" or longer) to mixing bowl. If not, add vanilla extract.
  3. Add kefir, cream or kefir cream, salt, and lemon zest to pitcher/bowl. Whisk to combine.
  4. Place mixture in refrigerator to chill overnight or up to 8 hours.
Make Ice Cream
  1. Fish out vanilla bean pods from mixture.
  2. Whisk ingredients together (settling may have occurred during chilling).
  3. Follow machine instructions for making ice cream. Be careful not to overfill the machine, otherwise it may overflow or not freeze properly.
  4. When mixture has aerated and resembles soft-serve ice cream (usually 15 minutes for most machines), add the mix-ins. Let machine run a few more minutes.
  5. Scoop ice cream into jars or wide container(s).
  6. Harden in freezer overnight, at least 8 hours.


Some flavor suggestions (amounts for 2 quart base)

fig basil ice creamBasil Fig Miso

  • 6 ripe fresh figs (or 1/2 cup frozen figs or fig jam)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (about 8-12 large leaves)
  • 3 Tablespoons white miso or red miso

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, and/or 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

Pumpkin Spice-Pepita

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) soaked pepitas
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. (3 ml) ground clove
  • 1/2 tsp. (3 ml) ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. (3 ml) ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. (1.5 ml) ground cayenne powder
  • 1 cup (250 ml) pumpkin puree

3 thoughts on “Cultured Ice Cream

  1. Pingback: Kefir Cream-Sour Cream | Fermenters Club

  2. Pingback: Umeboshi- Japanese Pickled Plums [Video How-To] | Fermenters Club

  3. Pingback: Kefir | Fermenters Club

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.