Never end summer calls for lemon ice cream (no machine)

When life gives you lemons, make it into… lemon ice cream

Food history of America project one

Is summer coming back again?

Recently the weather in San Diego is like summer in daytime but fall in the night time. to be frank, I love the weather of SoCal, it’s always so pleasant, however, the heat during the day always makes us crave a little sweet treat- ice cream!

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If you have been following along on our Instagram, you may already know we also are running a new food project- Food history of America. the idea is- recreate popular foods on American menus based on thousands of data from 1850 to nowadays. Is that sounds exciting to you? 🙂 Since we are pretty huge fans of history, art, and foods, it’s a natural fusion!. Shout out to history fans and foodies, you are so invited to join our journey!

And first, we are going to present something sweet- lemon ice cream.

Before I make this ice cream, I went to supermarket want to see if the lemon flavor is still a hit, but the closest one I could find is lemon sorbet. well, most are chocolate, vanilla flavors, don’t get me wrong, I love them too. however, the likings are pretty different to the late 1800s.

Ice cream has many stories in many countries. History of ice creams probably begun around 500 BC in the Achaemenid Empire with ice combined with flavors to produce summertime treats. In ancient Greece, during the 5th century BC, ancient Greeks ate snow mixed with honey and fruit in the markets of Athens. The father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, encouraged his Greek patients to eat ice “as it livens the life-juices and increases the well-being.” How cool is this idea? Maybe that’s why people eat ice cream when they feel throat ache now? 😛

However, the ice cream we have nowadays is said to go back to a 16th-century Italian version. When Italian duchess Catherine de’ Medici married the Duke of Orléans (Henry II of France) in 1533, she is said to have brought with her to France some Italian chefs who had recipes for flavored ices or sorbets. One hundred years later, Charles I of England was, it was reported, so impressed by the “frozen snow” that he offered his own ice cream maker a lifetime pension in return for keeping the formula secret, so that ice cream could be a royal prerogative. Well, thanks to the technology expanding that give people the freedom to invent ice creams. Since we are going back to the retro way of making ice cream, we are not going to use ice cream maker (so 19 century) that you feel free to use the ice bag plus salt method which in science class you may have experienced.

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Serves 2-6 people, preparation time 30 mins, frozen 6 hours


2 cups heavy cream

1 can sweeten condensed milk

3 large eggs

½ cup fresh lemon juice, about 6 medium lemons

1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon zest

½ teaspoon vanilla

Cooking steps:

  1. Shave the lemon peel, be careful not to shave off the white part, it will cause the bitter flavor. Squeeze the lemon juice making ½ cup.
  2. In a saucepan, whisk together, the lemon juice, and the eggs and whisk in 1/4 cup of heavy cream and the vanilla. Cook the mixture over the medium heat, whisking constantly until it just comes to a simmer. Strain the custard, then add the lemon zest. put aside, cool it down.
  3. In a large mixer bowl, beat up the left heavy cream to peak foam shape. then add sweetened condensed milk slowly from the side, whisk it nicely. Add the cool lemon custard into the bowl, whisk the ice cream mixture well. Prepare an ice cream storage box, pour the mixture into it, froze it at least 6 hours. (Or you can try the ice plus salt method on this instead put it in the fridge)

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Isn’t it much easier than you think?at least I thought so! haha!

I actually debated so many time about buying an ice cream machine, I did want to buy it so I can make ice cream, however, I am also worried I would be so obsessed making it all day, every day, (blame on Ice cream is so good!)  but I am glad to find out people share this heavy cream with sweetened condensed milk on internet, it’s so easy and simple, and the lemon is so refreshing, and somehow really retro, feel like at countryside, a hot summer day retreat under a shade of big tree.

This successful moment also makes me want to try other flavors soon, such as strawberry, chocolate, peanut butter… etc.

I hope you enjoy the sharing, tell me what flavor would you like to make too, please! 🙂