Strawberry Ice Cream | the Biterkin way

No-Churn Strawberry Ice Cream | the Biterkin way​

August 11, 2021


© 2022 Biterkin

cover photo for recipe no-churn strawberry ice cream the biterkin way
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This No-churn Strawberry Ice Cream is, in terms of flavour, the closest you can get to making strawberry ice cream as if you had an ice cream maker. 

What makes this no-churn ice cream special, it that it uses the exact ingredients that you use to make strawberry ice cream: fresh strawberries, heavy cream, sugar and egg yolks. To bring these ingredients together, we additionally use gelatine leaves; or gelatine granules. And if you wonder why you should add egg yolks in a strawberry ice cream, the answer is that it is the ingredient which makes for a perfect texture which also keeps well in the freezer.

The process is simple; you make a strawberry jelly with the strawberries, then you make a custard with the cream and egg yolks and chill them. When cold, you whip the custard to soft peaks, add in the strawberry jelly and freeze. In the recipe you will find detailed instructions to get you through the process successfully.

What I love in this ice cream is its simplicity: it does not contain sweetened condensed milk, nor any specialty ingredients; and you will not need any fancy equipment or special folding skills. It requires only a mixer – hand-held being just fine – and a blender. The only special thing needed is fresh, juicy strawberries, so choose a batch of flavourful strawberries and treat yourself to this outstanding no-churn strawberry ice cream.

The Biterkin tricks to a perfect No-Churn Strawberry Ice Cream:

If you love to know the whys behind this recipe, read below about the Biterkin way to making no-churn ice cream; this is the result of years of experimentation and cannot be found anywhere else. 

When we have an ice cream maker to make strawberry ice cream at home, we use strawberries, heavy cream, sugar and egg yolks. First, we make a custard with the cream, yolks and sugar; then we chill it, blend with the strawberries and churn in the ice cream maker. What happens during churning, is that air enters the ice cream mixture; these air pockets stay there because, at the same time, the mixture freezes. The air pockets which stay trapped in the frozen mixture result in a fluffy ice cream, which retains its fluffiness in the freezer. If it weren’t for the air, the result would be a hard, frozen granita block, which would impossible to scoop out or be eaten with a spoon. 

So, the important thing when making ice cream is to incorporate air and keep it there. But how can you make ice cream without an ice cream maker? What you have to do is to incorporate air BEFORE freezing the ice cream mixture (as opposed to WHILE freezing it, which is what you do while churning in the ice cream maker). You can add air to a dairy mixture, by whipping it, but it must contain enough fat to make it whipable. You can easily make a no-churn strawberry ice cream using just a custard and strawberries which have been cooked to a jam-like consistency. This kind of no-churn ice cream may be lovely, but lacks the flavour it could have, if the strawberries were retained raw to keep their bright, fresh flavour.

For this no-churn strawberry ice cream – the Biterkin way -, the challenge is to incorporate the blended strawberries into the whipped and aerated custard, without deflating it. This can be done by making a light jelly made from strawberries and sugar. The addition of gelatine makes the strawberries steady enough to incorporate into the whipped custard, without deflating it. We then freeze the mixture in the freezer until set. The result is mind-blowing: it is just like real ice cream; or at least, the closest you can get to it, without using an ice cream maker. No fuss; no special folding skills; no special ingredients. Note that this method is unique and cannot be found elsewhere, so do save it somewhere.

This is a no-churn custard ice cream, made with egg yolks, which give the best texture possible to the ice cream. When making custard at home, you are usually asked to use an instant-read thermometer to check if the custard has reached the right temperature, which is around 80ºC/176ºF. This is the temperature at which the custard is thickened; also, at this temperature, the eggs are perfectly safe to eat. But! While it is good to have a thermometer, it is only natural that you may not have one at home.

For this reason I have developed a very simple method, which uses the laws of physics to guarantee that the ice cream mixture is cooked to the right temperature. It is also the least labour-intensive one, as it does not require you to stand over the stovetop stirring until the custard is thickened. Instead, you only need to bring the cream and sugar to a full boil and then pour the mixture into the cold egg yolks, while whisking vigorously. It works every time, because by combining the right amount of boiling cream with the right amount of fridge-cold egg yolks you have a perfectly cooked custard.

For this method to work, you have to make sure that:

  1. the ingredients are properly measured; it is important that the ratio of “cold egg yolks to boiling cream” is right
  2. the egg yolks are cold from the fridge (which is around 4ºC;39ºF, no need to measure the temperature, refrigerator technology is our modern world’s advantage), and
  3. you bring the dairy to a full boil (which is around 100ºC;212ºF, no need to measure the temperature, the laws of physics work here for you) and immediately pour it over the egg yolks, while whisking vigorously. 

For this ice cream, we want to keep the fresh strawberry flavour to the fullest. For this reason. we cook the strawberries with the sugar over the stovetop on very low heat, just until the sugar dissolves. 

Well, the answer is: don’t. Straining removes part of the strawberry pulp along with the seeds. This strawberry pulp is strawberry flavour and it is very much wanted in our final ice cream. It is also needed in the recipe to maintain the perfect balance of sugars and solids in the final ice cream mixture.

If you were to strain the ice cream mixture to remove the strawberry seeds, you would have to alter the proportions of the ingredients. So my advice is to avoid straining in this strawberry ice cream recipe; this ice cream is so delicious that no one will be bothered by the seeds. And in their defence, they do add a natural and homey essence to this homemade strawberry ice cream which everyone will love.

The ingredients:

This is what you will need:

Every single ingredient plays a vital role in the recipe. Do not play around trying to use low-calorie versions of the ingredients or changing the quantities. What you should use: 

The recipe at a glance:

This is a quick overview of the recipe. If you are new to ice cream making, do not rely only on this, but do read the recipe before proceeding. 

No-Churn Strawberry Ice Cream | the Biterkin way

For best results, use a scale and measure the ingredients directly into the utensils, when you need them.

Avoid weighing in one utensil and transferring to another, as this causes a small, but significant loss of quantity, especially in liquids.

If using cups to measure the ingredients, make sure that you thoroughly scrap the cup after every measuring.

Use fresh, juicy, in season strawberries. The taste of this strawberry ice cream will be determined by the taste of the strawberries. So, if you want a fragrant, wonderful ice cream, so should your strawberries be.

Use regular sugar (white granulated sugar).

Do not use sugar substitutes, such as table sweeteners or stevia. Also, do not use confectioner’s sugar, it is not suitable for this recipe. 

Using raw cane sugar, such as Demerara or Turbinado, is not recommended in this strawberry ice cream, as it tends to cover the delicate strawberry flavour.​

Gelatine leaves: most gelatine leaves widely available for domestic use, have the same setting properties. This means that 6 gelatine leaves can set 500 ml (2 cups) of liquid. This is usually written on the packaging.* (note: the gelatine leaves I use weigh 1.7 gr (0.6 oz) each and measure 11 x 7 cm (4.3 x 2.75 inches). .

Gelatine powder / granulated: this is usually sold in sachets; each sachet contains 2.5 tsp. gelatine powder and should set 500 ml (2 cups) of liquid*.

* The setting properties of the gelatine are usually written on the packaging of the product. However, if the one you use does not include this information, worry not, as in the recipe you are provided with detailed description on how the milk jelly should be like, and what to do in case it is not.

Use heavy cream suitable for whipping, with 35-40% fat percentage.

Do not use lower fat versions, or else the custard may not whip.

Do not use any kind of non-dairy cream. 

If you live in the UK where heavy cream is not available, you can combine double cream and milk to create heavy cream.

For 400 gr (14.1 oz.) heavy cream you will need:

  • 280 gr double cream (10 oz.) (with 50% fat)
  • 120 gr/ml regular milk (4.2 oz.) (with 3.5% fat) *

To make the heavy cream, put the double cream in a bowl, then pour in the milk, a little at a time, stirring smoothly with a rubber spatula until just incorporated. You need the cream to be smooth and preferably with a pourable consistency. Resist the urge to  whisk, as it may turn it into whipped cream.

Proceed with the recipe, just as if you had the 400 gr (14.1 oz.) heavy cream needed.

it is recommended to weigh the egg yolks, because egg sizes (and their yolks) may vary from my country to yours. If you do not have a scale, use only egg yolks from eggs which are in the range of around 65 – 75 gr; 2.3 – 2.65 oz (whole egg, in its shell). The weight of the eggs is written on their packaging and they may be labelled as “large” or “extra large”, depending on the country they are sold.

TIP: to separate the egg yolk from the white, do it when the eggs are cold from the fridge, as the egg yolks are firmer and are easy to handle.

A flexible rubber spatula is useful for:

-wiping the bottom of the saucepan when cooking dairy on the stovetop

-scraping residues which would otherwise be left behind in bowls, saucepans, etc.

If you do not have one, I strongly encourage you to buy one, preferring a flexible one.

Using a saucepan with a long handle is perfect for pouring the boiling cream with one hand, while whisking the eggs vigorously with the other (step 2).

Bonus tip: if the bowl with the eggs is lightweight, put a slightly wet towel under it; this will keep it in place. 

A handheld mixer makes it easier to evaluate the stage of the whipping cream in step 3 and to stop when it reaches the desired consistency.

If you whip with a stand mixer instead, always keep an eye on it to avoid over-whipping.

It is recommended to use a stainless steel whisk to smooth the strawberry jelly in step 4, as opposed to a silicone one. A silicone whisk may not be steady enough to smooth the jelly.

Alternatively, if you use a hand-held mixer, you can as well transfer it to the bowl with the jelly and use this to smooth it.

Step 1: Make the strawberry jelly

Slice the strawberries: with a sharp knife, cut the strawberries (400 gr; 14 oz.) into clean, neat slices. You do not have to worry about cutting them very thin, just slice them to a thickness you feel comfortable working with. Alternatively, you can chop them into pieces. 

Soften the gelatine: 

  • for gelatine leaves: put the gelatine leaves (3 sheets) in a bowl in a single layer and fully cover with fridge-cold water. If they overlap each other, give them a stir with your hands; this will help even the overlapping parts to soften.
  • for gelatine granules: put 1 Tbs. cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatine granules (2 tsp.) over it.

Set aside for 5-10 minutes for the gelatine to soften.

Warm the strawberries: in a medium saucepan put the strawberries and 100 gr (3.5 oz.; 1/2 cup) of the sugar and warm over very low heat, stirring often with a rubber spatula, until all the sugar has melted. TIP: do not increase the heat to rush the process, we just aim to melt the sugar, while retaining the strawberries as uncooked as possible.

Add the softened gelatine: when all the sugar has melted, the strawberries will have released part of their water and a red syrup will have formed. Remove from the heat and add the softened gelatine. If using gelatine leaves, squeeze them gently to release as much water as possible, before adding them to the strawberries. If using gelatine granules, just scrape the whole thing into the strawberries.

Stir well with a rubber spatula to dissolve the gelatine.

Blend: with a stick blender, blend the strawberries in the saucepan until smooth and no strawberry chunks have remained. Pour into a container, scraping the blender to release any strawberry pulp which has stuck there. Set aside to cool down, while you prepare the custard. Alternatively, you can use a regular blender or a food processor.

Step 2: Make the custard

Prepare the egg yolks: put the cold egg yolks (80 gr; 2.8 oz) in a large heatproof bowl, and whisk them well to break them down. Put them back in the fridge to keep them cold, leaving the whisk in the bowl. Do not leave them sitting around for too long, as the egg yolks dry out quickly; aim to proceed with the recipe as soon as possible.

Bring the cream to a boil: in a medium saucepan, put the rest of the sugar (100 gr; 3.5 oz; 1/2 cup) and all the heavy cream (400 gr; 14 oz; 1¾ cups). Warm over medium heat, stirring often with a silicone spatula, until the sugar dissolves.

Increase the heat to high and remove the egg yolks from the fridge. If the bowl with the egg yolks is lightweight, put a damp towel underneath to keep it in place while you pour inside the boiling cream. 

Pour the boiling cream into the egg yolks:  as soon as the cream comes to a full boil (starts bubbling up vigorously), count 10 seconds, remove it from the heat, and immediately start pouring it in a slow, steady stream into the egg yolks with one hand, while whisking them vigorously with the other.

Stir: with a rubber spatula, stir well and thoroughly for one minute, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl.

You have to stir the custard with a rubber spatula while it is still hot, thoroughly scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl, where residues of egg yolk lie. Those residues, which you cannot see, are there and they should be incorporated into the rest of the mixture, while it is still hot. Stirring also makes the custard thicken slightly.

Cool down the custard: prepare an ice bath by putting ice cubes and cold water in a large bowl and carefully nest the bowl with the custard in it, taking care that no water slips into it. Leave it to cool down for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 3: Chill the custard and the strawberry jelly

When the custard and the strawberry jelly have cooled down, you have to thoroughly chill them before proceeding. You can choose one of the two methods below:

Personally, I prefer the slow method, as during the refrigeration process the custard matures and the flavours improve. However, most people do not notice this flavour improvement, therefore feel free to follow the method which is more convenient to you.
Another thing to consider in choosing the fast method is whether you have enough ice to fully submerge the two bags.

Step 4: Make the ice cream mixture

When the strawberry jelly and custard are cold, you can proceed with the recipe:

Check if the strawberry jelly has the right consistency: shake the container; the jelly should be jiggly, just to the point of setting. It should be neither pourable, nor too firm.

If the jelly is too firm, you can pulse it briefly in a food processor; add some of the whipped custard (see below how to “Whip the custard to soft peaks”) and then pulse again. When smooth, you can add to the rest of the custard and proceed with the recipe (skip the “Smooth the strawberry jelly” instructions below and go straight to “Mix the strawberry jelly with the custard”). 

If the jelly hasn’t set at all and is still. well, strawberry , try to add one more gelatine leaf (or 1/2 tsp. gelatine granules) by following again the process in step 1. Alternatively, if you are short of time, you can omit the milk jelly; without it, this no-churn ice cream won’t be the same, but it still is very good. To do so, follow from step 3 onwards of the No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream | the custard version (this recipe is more or less the same, minus the extra mile of adding gelatine and milk).

Whip the custard to soft peaks: pour the custard into the mixer bowl. With the whisk attachment on, whip at medium speed until the mixture is thick and dollopable: this is when the waves that the whisk leaves on the surface of the cream hold their shape well, instead of disappearing in the cream.

Smooth the strawberry jelly: in a separate bowl, put the strawberry jelly and whisk until it is smooth and no lumps remain. Add  2-3 tablespoons of the whipped custard to the strawberry jelly to lighten it and whisk to incorporate. Using a rubber spatula scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Whisk again.

Mix the strawberry jelly with the custard: add the smoothed strawberry jelly into the whipped custard. Whip at medium speed for one full minute. Stop the mixer, scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, bringing everything upwards, then whip for 30 seconds more or until an homogenous pink colour has been obtained and no pink streaks remain.

Step 5: Freeze until set

Transfer the whipped mixture into a freezable container (1.5 litre/quart)Cover well and put it in the freezer until completely firm and set, preferably overnight (to soften it for serving, see “Storage and serving below).

If using as a filling in a mould, ice cream sandwich or a torte, use it directly after whipping. Freeze for 24 hours before cutting/unmoulding.

The setting time for this no-churn ice cream depends on your freezer. It is most likely that it will take 6-8 hours, but it is recommended to let it fully set overnight; you can tell if the ice cream has properly set, if you insert a knife into it and it is hard to go all the way to the bottom*. When it is set, you can soften it to a perfectly scoopable consistency, by putting it in the refrigerator for one hour, which will finally give the best texture and mouthfeel to this ice cream. 

* if the ice cream is not ready yet, when you insert a knife, it will feel hard at the top and softer as you go down. In this case, you have to let it set for longer.

Storage and serving

Storage: in the freezer for one month, covered well to protect it from absorbing the freezer’s smells. 

Serving: before serving, soften it to a scoopable consistency, by putting it in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Use a rubber spatula: 

A flexible rubber spatula is useful for:

-wiping the bottom of the saucepan when cooking dairy on the stovetop

-scraping residues which would be otherwise left behind in bowls, saucepans etc.

If you do not have one, I strongly encourage you to buy one, preferably a flexible one.

Use a saucepan with a long handle:

Using a saucepan with a long handle in step 1 is useful for easily pouring  the boiling cream with one hand, while whisking the eggs vigorously with the other.

Bonus tip: if the bowl with the eggs is lightweight, put a towel under it, to keep it in place while whisking.

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