Yearn, No Churn

Up there’s the ice cream maker, a pricey investment now collecting dust on a shelf somewhere in the years between its uses.  Even when the machine’s pulled into service, making good ice cream is so much work.  The constant trips to and from the freezer.  All that churning, too.  There’s no other way to enjoy fresh homemade ice cream, though.

That is, not until wonderfully inventive Spanish chef Ferran Adrià came up with a quick and surprisingly simple solution, namely, blending condensed milk and frozen fruit.  Instant soft serve or, after a brief stay in the freezer, firmer ice cream in the more traditional style.  Genius!

Food & Wine reported Adrià’s innovation in its September 2018 issue, which in turn inspired the quartet of summer refreshers you see above (proceeding clockwise from the top): Strawberry, Peach, Blueberry and Tropical.  Three of the flavors are self-explanatory, whereas the fourth, Tropical, takes cubed pineapples, mangoes and papayas and blends them with passion fruit juice.  Here are some of the latter two before their preparation and deep freeze:Papaya and Passion Fruit

Below are all four of today’s creations, straight from the freezer, and before service:Ice Cream-Four Flavors

As this suggests, these all spent a couple hours in the freezer to firm them up, making them suitable for various applications.  They may be served in a dish, as in today’s feature photo, or they may be enjoyed in a cone.  Here’s a scoop of blueberry:Ice Cream Cone

Not the best picture, true, but try holding an ice cream cone in one hand, while manipulating a camera phone with the other.  It was a beautiful day for ice cream, too, with temperatures and humidity near their upper limits, though these made the ice cream drippy and the cone, seemingly destined for disaster.  You only can imagine what happened seconds after the picture above.  No comment but…Oh wow, what a luscious (yet sublime) mess!

Adrià, you’ve done it!  The chef who created what was widely acclaimed as the world’s top restaurant (El Bulli) has lent his wizardry to the seemingly impossible task of improving summers.  Too bad for ice cream makers, though, because now the machines will be stuck forever up on that back closet shelf.


Almost-Instant Soft Serve

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds frozen fruit (*1, *2)
  • 3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk (*3)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until fruit in finely-chopped, then process steadily until the mixture is smooth, 3 to 4 minutes.  With a spatula, scrape down the sides of the processor from time-to-time, as needed.

Serve immediately for soft serve or, if a firmer texture is desired, put mixture into a container, cover the ice cream closely with plastic wrap, and freeze for about 2 to 3 hours.  If the latter, let sit at room temperature ten minutes before serving.


1 – Any variety of fruit you can imagine would be a splendid choice.  The article suggests strawberries, blueberries and mangoes, which I accepted, and then improvised.  It doesn’t necessarily even have to be a single kind of fruit; a combination, as with Tropical, works well.

2 – If you have a little frozen fruit left over, a good idea is to chop it coarsely with a knife, and then to mix it in with the ice cream before freezing.  As you can see, this is precisely what I did with the few peaches that remained in the bag.

3 – This is a little under the amount you’d find in can.  At least that’s true of the cans sold in North America.


19 thoughts on “Yearn, No Churn

  1. Keith, first of all, all the ice cream flavor look delicious! When I was still reading the first paragraph, my thought was, I don’t care how hard it is to make ice cream, or the many trips you have to make to the freezer, I don’t want to hear it. Then, boom! the easiest way to make ice cream, lol. Hey, I have a humble suggestion: could you please not stress your readers with technical issues next time? If the pictures are this alluring, why spoil it with “trips to the freezer” complains? Aye!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Advice received, and pondered, Angela.

      I was trying to take readers along with me on the journey – the intellectual discovery that things needn’t be as difficult as I feared they would be. Hoping both ventures would end with a sweet surprise.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You too, huh, Jenn? If it means anything to you, across a continent, blueberry was the best of the lot. In a field of pleasant surprises, it still distinguished itself.

      Blueberries have no business being a superfood. Nope, they’re far too perfect!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Greatly appreciate your comments, Rachel!

      Another reader commented on the blueberries’ lusciousness, and I agree with her, though peaches are no slouches, either. Definitely not. I mean, come on, they’re peaches! In another month, they almost certainly will be perfect enough to surpass even the blueberries.

      Either way, I too am grateful for Adria’s inventiveness. I can remember, years go, my parents bought an ice cream maker. They brought it home with such optimism, too. One of those old-fashioned hand-cranked things.

      Anyway, twelve hours later, after messing with ice, salt water, countless trips to the freezer and back, etc., we ended up with something resembling only slightly what could’ve been picked up in the freezer case for $6.99. Consequently, the ice cream maker has remained in the basement ever since (and I trip over it every time I visit!).

      Fortunately, homemade ice cream’s honor has been redeemed!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Much appreciated, Rachel! I don’t want to leave an incorrect impression, though – until quite recently, I was entirely an ice cream savorer; never a producer.

        Oh, to be fair, most ice cream makers are more user-friendly than was the contraption my parents bought. However, its greatest use was as a cautionary example. Besides, this week’s recipe, one should think, will relegate to obscurity all machines.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Maybe, Rachel. Maybe not.

        Which tells you precisely nothing, doesn’t it?

        This week’s entry features a quartet of fruit-forward dazzlers, as I got into that mindset after deciding to give the recipe a try. Summer being the season of fruit and all.

        That’s nothing a half-cup of good cocoa powder (in place of the fruit) can’t solve. Oh, and be sure to include a cup of finely-crushed ice too. You know, for structure and for freezability.

        Blitz a cup or so of ice cubes in a food processor and you’ll have snow. There you go – chocolatey bliss is on its way!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Great idea, Rachel!

        A couple drops of peppermint extract should do the trick Or (Alternative #3) –

        Skip the cocoa powder, increase the mint to three drops or four, and shave in half a bar of bittersweet chocolate, et voila!, Mint Chip!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That’s the idea, right?

        We’re ambitious, but that doesn’t mean we ever stop seeking shortcuts that cut down on time and on effort, but not on quality.

        In fact, each hack we discover gives our ambitions room to grow.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to make ice cream all the time with an ice cream maker and we used to make ice cream that way as a kid also. We inherited all this from my grandparents and there is a long running joke about how much ice cream our family always liked to consume. I love the process actually but of course it does take considerable time. I have not tried this way of making ice cream before although I had heard of it. It sounds amazingly delicious and all the fresh fruit varieties I would love to try.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh sure, provided you have the time, the churn method is the most elegant. Echoing your observation, it’s the most therapeutic option too.

      For those such as I, though, lacking both the time and, more crucial, the patience, this technique is good shortcut, bringing about 90% of the benefit in 30% of the time. Of course, the inverse is precisely your point, isn’t it?

      By the way, as you may read elsewhere in the thread in response to another reader, chocolate “instant” ice cream is within most home cooks’ grasp too.

      Rejoice, we are victorious!

      Liked by 1 person

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