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THE TAKE-IT-EASY ICE CREAM

Lemon Ice Cream
• Philadelphia - style •

With lemons, milk, cream, and sugar.

Philadelphia-style ice cream is our Take-It-Easy ice cream; it is what we make when we are short of time yet want to make something that everyone will love. Easy and superb, it is a delightful reminder of how great it is to make your own ice cream at home.

This easy-to-make lemon ice cream is just milk, cream, sugar, and lemons. We use both the zest of the lemons (to infuse the milk) and the lemon juice to make a lemony syrup (to add during the last stages of churning). It is creamy and zingy; and as lemony as an ice cream can be. Like all our Philadelphia-style ice creams, it fluffs to an indulgent ice cream with a deluxe texture.

3 more ways to make this lemon ice cream:

THE ITALIAN WAY. This is your hot weather ice cream: easy to make, and resistant to melting. With lemons, milk, cream, sugar, and corn starch.

THE FRENCH-STYLE ICE CREAM. Rich and velvety, this is a custard-based ice cream; a tad bit tricky to make, but so much worth it. With lemons, milk, cream, sugar, and egg yolks.

LIKE A PRO. The closest you can get to an eggless store-bought ice cream with just one extra ingredient: xanthan gum. With lemons, milk, cream, sugar,and  xanthan gum.

THE ITALIAN WAY. This is your hot weather ice cream: easy to make, and resistant to melting. With lemons, milk, cream, sugar, and corn starch.

THE FRENCH-STYLE ICE CREAM. Rich and velvety, this is a custard-based ice cream; a tad bit tricky to make, but so much worth it. With lemons, milk, cream, sugar, and egg yolks.

LIKE A PRO. The closest you can get to an eggless store-bought ice cream with just one extra ingredient: xanthan gum. With lemons, milk, cream, sugar,and  xanthan gum.

also available:

The ingredients

Do not reduce or replace anything; everything is there for a reason.

To show the ingredients for this Philadelphia-style Lemon Ice Cream recipe: milk, heavy cream, lemons and sugar.

Lemons: the taste of the ice cream will be as good as the lemons you use. You can judge a lemon by scratching a small piece of the lemon and smelling it. If it feels good, it is perfect for this ice cream.
Whenever possible, use local, seasonal lemons. Imported lemons are coated with wax, which makes them look shiny. Remove this wax before using their peel: rinse the lemon under warm water while rubbing their surface with your hands.

• Milk: use whole milk; this has approx. 3,5% fat. Do not substitute with skimmed milk (lower fat) or non-dairy milk. You need both the fat and the milk proteins for this ice cream recipe.

• Heavy cream (for double cream read below): you can use heavy cream with 35% to 40% fat content. It is ok to use cream suitable for whipping or ultra-pasteurised cream with 35-40% fat content. Do not use low-fat cream or non-dairy cream.

Sugar: you can use regular sugar (white granulated sugar) or a raw cane sugar such as Demerara or Turbinado, which enhances the lemon’s flavour.

Do not use any other sugar or sweetener, natural or artificial, liquid or powder, like honey, stevia, golden syrup, table sweeteners, confectioner’s sugar, etc.

🇬🇧 For UK readers: if you want to use double cream -which has a higher fat content (50%) than heavy cream (35-40% fat)- stir some milk into the double cream to bring it to the right fat content. Instructions in double cream – how to use”.

To show the ingredients for this Philadelphia-style Lemon Ice Cream recipe: milk, heavy cream, lemons and sugar.

Lemons: the taste of the ice cream will be as good as the lemons you use. You can judge a lemon by scratching a small piece of the lemon and smelling it. If it feels good, it is perfect for this ice cream.
Whenever possible, use local, seasonal lemons. Imported lemons are coated with wax, which makes them look shiny. Remove this wax before using their peel: rinse the lemon under warm water while rubbing their surface with your hands.

Sugar: you can use regular sugar (white granulated sugar) or a raw cane sugar such as Demerara or Turbinado, which enhances the lemon’s flavours.

Do not use any other sugar or sweetener, natural or artificial, liquid or powder, like honey, stevia, golden syrup, table sweeteners, confectioner’s sugar, etc.

• Milk: use whole milk, with around 3,5% fat. Do not substitute with skimmed milk (lower fat) or non-dairy milk. You need both the fat and the milk proteins for this ice cream recipe.

• Heavy cream (for double cream see scroll to the right): for this recipe you can use heavy cream with 35% – 40% fat. It is ok to use cream suitable for whipping or ultra-pasteurised cream with 35-40% fat content.

Do not use low-fat cream or non-dairy cream.

🇬🇧 For UK readers: if you want to use double cream -which has a higher fat content (50%) than heavy cream (35-40% fat)- stir some milk into the double cream to bring it to the right fat content. Instructions in Double cream: how to use” notes in the recipe.

Overview

This is a quick overview of the recipe. If you are new to ice cream making, do read the recipe before proceeding. 

Infuse the milk: warm the milk with the sugar and zest the lemons directly into the hot milk. Cover and leave to infuse for 1 hour.

Make the lemon syrup: warm the lemon juice with the sugar to dissolve the sugar.

Chill until completely cold.

Pour the infused lemon milk into a bowl, add the cold heavy cream and stir to combine.

Put the ice cream mixture in the refrigerator overnight; or until completely cold.

(a faster chilling method is also included in the recipe)

Strain the ice cream mixture and churn it in your ice cream maker until fluffed up and creamy.

Add the lemon syrup and churn for 15 minutes more.

Put it in the freezer for a few hours to set. 

As soon as it sets, you can either serve it from the ice cream maker bowl or transfer to a container and store it in the freezer.

The recipe

Lemon Ice Cream | Philadelphia - style

Lemon Ice Cream | Philadelphia - style

Ingredients:
Notes:
If you find the heavy cream in this Philadelphia-style ice cream recipe is too much, do not try to reduce it. Instead, make this ice cream thickened with corn starch, which has the least amount of heavy cream a homemade ice cream can have.
 
In this Philadelphia-style ice cream, on the other hand, is easy because we do not thicken the ice cream mixture. So we need that much heavy cream to compensate for the lack of body in the ice cream mixture.

When making ice cream, prefer to weigh all the ingredients, even the liquid ones. We also recommend – whenever possible – to weigh the liquid ingredients directly into the bowl/pan as you proceed with the recipe instead of transferring them from one bowl to another because this transfer causes a small -but unwanted- loss of quantity.

If you do not have a kitchen scale, follow these guidelines:

• 1 cup (US) = 237 ml | 1 tablespoon = 15 ml

• sugar: measuring sugar in tablespoons is more accurate than measuring it in cups. Use a 15 ml measuring tablespoon (not a regular one); this is 13 gr of sugar. To measure correctly, each time you scoop the sugar, level it with the flat side of a knife.

• milk and cream: thoroughly scrape with a rubber spatula any residues left on the sides and bottom of the cup every time you measure something and empty it.

Note that the quantities in each measuring system (grams, ounces, and cups) in our recipes may not be accurate conversions, while any deviations you may notice do not affect the outcome.

This recipe makes a 1.2 litre/quart ice cream mixture, and its lemons syrup (before churning), perfect for ice cream makers with a capacity of 1.5 and up to 2 litres/quarts (like Cuisinart ice cream makers).

If you need to scale the ice cream mixture up or down, use this ratio of the ingredients (in weight only):

for the ice cream mixture: milk 27.6% / heavy cream 46% / sugar 13.4 % / lemon zest: about 1 lemon for every 350 g of ice cream mixture

for the lemon syrup: lemon juice: 9.8 % / sugar: 3.2%

in desired total weight of ice cream mixture.

For example, if you want to make 1000 g (approx. 1 litre) of ice cream mixture, you need:

• 1000 g x 27.6% = 276 g milk

• 1000 g x 46% = 460 g heavy cream

• 1000 g x 13.4% = 134 g sugar (for the ice cream mixture)

• 3 lemons for their zest

• 1000 g x 9.8% = 98 g lemon juice

• 1000 g x 3.2% = 32 g sugar (for the lemon syrup)

You can combine double cream with whole milk to make heavy cream for this recipe.

To make 585 g (20.6 oz) heavy cream, stir together:

  • 410 g double cream (14.4 oz) (with approx. 50% fat)
  • 175 g whole milk (6.2 oz) (with approx. 3.5% fat) -note that this milk is extra to the 350 g; 12.3 oz asked in the recipe-

The resulting heavy cream has 36% fat, perfect for this ice cream. Proceed with the recipe just as if you had the 585 g (20.6 oz) heavy cream needed.

A flexible rubber spatula is good for:
-wiping the bottom of the saucepan when you cook dairy on the stovetop.
-scraping residues from bowls, saucepans etc.

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

Instructions
Plan ahead:

The ice cream mixture needs to cool completely before churning, so prepare it in advance (approx. 8 hours before) to give it time to chill in the refrigerator. Alternatively, if you have plenty of ice cubes, you can have the ice cream mixture cold and ready for churning in less than one hour; to find out how, read “A fast way to chill the ice cream mixture” under step 3.

If your ice cream maker has a removable freezer bowl, put it in the freezer for the whole time indicated by the manufacturer before churning, usually 24 hours.

Step 1: Infuse the milk

Warm the milk with the sugar: in a medium saucepan, put the milk (350 g; 12.3 oz) and the sugar (170 g; 6 oz). Warm over medium heat, often stirring until the sugar dissolves and the milk is hot and steamy (this is at 75° C / 167° F if you have a thermometer). Do not let it boil.

Add the lemon zest: remove the saucepan from the heat and zest the lemons directly into the milk. Stir to combine.

Infuse the milk: cover the saucepan and leave the milk to infuse for 1 hour.

Step 2: Make the lemon syrup

Juice the lemons to get 125 g (4.4 oz; about ½ cup) of lemon juice.

Warm the lemon juice with the sugar: pour the lemon juice into a small saucepan, add the 40 g sugar (1.4 oz) and warm over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat when the sugar dissolves and the juice it is hot and steamy /  75° C / 167° F. Do not let it boil.

Cool completely: pour into a container, cover it and chill it in the refrigerator until it is completely cold, before using it.

Storing: in the refrigerator, for up to one week.

Step 3: Chill the ice cream mixture

Add the heavy cream: pour the infused milk into a large bowl and add the heavy cream (585 g; 20.6 oz). Stir to combine.

Chill until completely cold: cover the bowl and put it in the refrigerator overnight; or until completely cold. It will keep well for up to 3 days.

If you have plenty of ice cubes, you can have the ice cream mixture ready for churning in less than one hour by cooling it in an ice bath. 

How to prepare an ice bath for fast chilling:

1. Put the ice cream mixture in a bowl made of heatproof glass or stainless steel; these materials help the mixture chill fast; and don’t break in sudden temperature changes. Avoid using a plastic bowl which will take forever to cool, or a regular glass bowl that may break upon contact with the ice bath.

2. Nest the bowl with the ice cream mixture into a large empty bowl (it should be large enough to fit ice cubes on the sides) and fill the sides of the large empty bowl with ice cubes. How many ice cubes? Well, the more ice you put in, the faster it will chill.

3. Pour cold water into the sides of the large bowl, taking care that no water slips into the ice cream mixture. Pour as much cold water as needed so that the level of the water bath in the large bowl is 2 cm / 1 inch above the ice cream mixture. Add more ice cubes to keep them plentiful in the water.

For this quantity of ice cream mixture, we started with approx. 500 g; 17 oz ice cubes and less than 1 litre fridge-cold water.

4. Refresh the ice bath with new ice cubes as soon as the older ones start to melt. If you have a thermometer, add enough ice cubes to keep the water well below 10° C / 50° F – take care that you measure the temperature of the water itself, not the ice temperature. The colder the ice bath, the faster the ice cream mixture will chill. You may need to remove water from the ice bath if it starts to overflow; to do so, carefully remove the bowl with the ice cream mixture, pour out the excess water and put the bowl back in. We used approximately 250 g; 9 oz additional ice cubes.

5. Stir often, leaving the spatula in the bowl during the cooling process. The ice cream mixture is ready for churning when it is fridge-cold to the touch (anywhere between 4-12° C / 39-54° F is perfectly ok).

6. Remove the bowl with the ice cream mixture from the ice bath, and wipe its bottom with a kitchen towel. The ice cream mixture is now ready for churning.

When churning with a domestic ice cream maker, the ice cream mixture must be fridge-cold (4ºC–12ºC / 39ºF-54ºF / it feels fridge-cold when you place your index finger into it).

If the ice cream mixture is not cold enough, the ice cream maker may not be able to churn it to its fullest potential, resulting in a sloppy liquid vs. fluffy ice cream.

Step 4: Churn the ice cream

Check if the ice cream mixture is cold before churning it: it should feel fridge-cold when you place your finger into it (4ºC–12ºC / 39ºF-54ºF) .

Prepare the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Strain: the ice cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve and give it a nice, thorough stir.

Churn: with the machine running, pour the ice cream mixture through the canister and into the ice cream maker.

Leave to churn until fluffed up and creamy, but not too thick.

Give a stir to the cold lemon syrup.

Add the cold lemon syrup in the ice cream in three additions, with the machine running. Leave to churn for 10 minutes more; or until the ice cream is fluffy and creamy.

This ice cream will expand and fluff up during churning. It is ready when it looks smooth and fluffy, with the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. The total churning time depends on your ice cream maker and could be anywhere from 30-70 minutes.

To evaluate if it is ready, lift a spoonful; it should be thick enough to stand on the spoon, but it will still be soft like soft-serve ice cream. If it looks watery or starts to melt the moment you spoon it, leave it to churn for longer.

In any case, if you feel doubts about the consistency, leave it to churn for ten minutes more. But beware: at this stage, do not expect it to be like store-bought carton ice cream; for now, it should be more like soft-serve ice cream. It will firm up and become like store-bought ice cream only after it sets in the freezer.

So, stop the ice cream maker when thick and creamy, as described above. If you leave to churn it for much longer, it will start turning grainy.

Warning: some ice cream makers are programmed to stop after a specific time, which doesn’t make sense because the ice cream may need to churn for more to reach its fullest potential. So, if you notice that your ice cream maker stops on its own and upon checking the ice cream, you find that it is sloppy instead of fluffy, try to turn the machine on again and leave it to churn until it reaches the desired texture.

Step 5: Put the ice cream in the freezer to set

Put in the freezer to set: before serving the ice cream or moving it to a container for storing, you have to put it in the freezer to set. To do so, turn off the ice cream maker and: 

· remove the removable freezer bowl (still filled with the ice cream) from the ice cream machine
· remove the paddle, scraping any ice cream attached to it back into the ice cream bowl 
· cover the ice cream bowl and place it in the freezer 
Setting time depends on many factors; see notes below for indicative times.

If you are storing the ice cream in a container, put it in the freezer too.

Serve or store: when it sets, you can serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl or transfer it to an airtight container for longer storage.

Storing and serving

Storing: Philadelphia-style ice cream is at its best when eaten the day it is made. If you want to keep it for longer, cover it well to protect it from the freezer’s smell and keep it in the freezer for up to one month.

Scooping: this ice cream, like all artisanal ice cream, freezes hard in the long term. You can make it perfectly scoopable again by putting it in the refrigerator for 45-60 minutes until soft; or until its internal temperature reads -11°C / 12°F.

Instructions

The ice cream mixture needs to cool completely before churning, so prepare it in advance (approx. 8 hours before) to give it time to chill in the refrigerator. Alternatively, if you have plenty of ice cubes, you can have the ice cream mixture cold and ready for churning in less than one hour; to find out how, read “A faster way to chill the ice cream mixture” in the questions & troubleshooting section below..

If your ice cream maker has a removable freezer bowl, put it in the freezer for the whole time indicated by the manufacturer before churning, usually 24 hours.

Warm the milk with the sugar: in a medium saucepan, put the milk (350 g; 12.3 oz) and the sugar (170 g; 6 oz). Warm over medium heat, often stirring until the sugar dissolves and the milk is hot and steamy (this is at 75° C / 167° F if you have a thermometer). Do not let it boil.

Add the lemon zest: remove the saucepan from the heat and zest the lemons directly into the milk. Stir to combine.

Infuse the milk: cover the saucepan and leave the milk to infuse for 1 hour.

Juice the lemons to get 125 g (4.4 oz; about ½ cup) of lemon juice.

Warm the lemon juice with the sugar: pour the lemon juice into a small saucepan, add the 40 g sugar (1.4 oz) and warm over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat when the sugar dissolves and the juice it is hot and steamy /  75° C / 167° F. Do not let it boil.

Cool completely: pour into a container, cover it and chill it in the refrigerator until it is completely cold, before using it.

Storing: in the refrigerator, for up to one week.

Add the heavy cream: pour the infused milk into a large bowl and add the heavy cream (585 g; 20.6 oz). Stir to combine.

Chill until completely cold: cover the bowl and put it in the refrigerator overnight; or until completely cold. It will keep well for up to 3 days.

Alternatively, to speed up the chilling process, read A faster way to chill the ice cream mixture in the questions & troubleshooting section below.

Check if the ice cream mixture is cold before churning it: it should feel fridge-cold when you place your finger into it (4ºC–12ºC / 39ºF-54ºF) .

Prepare the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Strain: the ice cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve and give it a nice, thorough stir.

Churn: with the machine running, pour the ice cream mixture through the canister and into the ice cream maker.

Leave to churn until fluffed up and creamy, but not too thick.

Give a stir to the cold lemon syrup.

Add the cold lemon syrup in the ice cream in three additions, with the machine running. Leave to churn for 10 minutes more; or until the ice cream is fluffy and creamy. Troubleshooting: if the ice cream becomes too thick and the ice cream maker stops churning before the lemon syrup has been incorporated, stop the machine, remove the lid and give a good stir to the ice cream with a spoon, to help the lemon syrup mix in. 

Put in the freezer to set: before serving the ice cream or moving it to a container for storing, you have to put it in the freezer to set. To do so, turn off the ice cream maker and: 

· remove the removable freezer bowl (still filled with the ice cream) from the ice cream machine

· remove the paddle, scraping any ice cream attached to it back into the ice cream bowl 

· cover the ice cream bowl and place it in the freezer 

Setting time depends on many factors; read How long does it take for the ice cream to set in questions & troubleshooting below.

If you are storing the ice cream in a container, put it in the freezer too.

Serve or store: as soon as it sets, you can either serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl or transfer it to an airtight container for longer storing. 

Storing: Philadelphia-style ice cream is at its best when eaten the day it is made. If you want to keep it for longer, cover it well to protect it from the freezer’s smell and keep it in the freezer for up to one month.

Scooping: this ice cream, like all artisanal ice cream, freezes hard in the long term. You can make it perfectly scoopable again by putting it in the refrigerator for 45-60 minuter until soft; or until its internal temperature reads -11° / 12°F.

If you have plenty of ice cubes, you can have the ice cream mixture ready for churning in less than one hour by cooling it in an ice bath. 

How to prepare an ice bath for fast chilling:

1. Put the ice cream mixture in a bowl made of heatproof glass or stainless steel; these materials help the mixture chill fast; and don’t break in sudden temperature changes. Avoid using a plastic bowl which will take longer to cool, or a regular glass bowl that may break upon contact with the ice bath.

2. Nest the bowl with the ice cream mixture into a large empty bowl (it should be large enough to fit ice cubes on the sides) and fill the sides of the large empty bowl with ice cubes. How many ice cubes? Well, the more ice you put in, the faster it will chill.

3. Pour cold water into the sides of the large bowl, taking care that no water slips into the ice cream mixture. Pour as much cold water as needed so that the level of the water bath in the large bowl is 2 cm / 1 inch above the ice cream mixture. Add more ice cubes to keep them plentiful in the water.

For this quantity of ice cream mixture, we started with approx. 500 g; 17 oz ice cubes and less than 1 litre fridge-cold water.

4. Refresh the ice bath with new ice cubes as soon as the older ones start to melt. If you have a thermometer, add enough ice cubes to keep the water well below 10° C / 50° F – take care that you measure the temperature of the water itself, not the ice temperature. The colder the ice bath, the faster the ice cream mixture will chill. You may need to remove water from the ice bath if it starts to overflow; to do so, carefully remove the bowl with the ice cream mixture, pour out the excess water and put the bowl back in. We used approximately 250 g; 9 oz additional ice cubes.

5. Stir often, leaving the spatula in the bowl during the cooling process. The ice cream mixture is ready for churning when it is fridge-cold to the touch (anywhere between 4-12° C / 39-54° F is perfectly ok).

6. Remove the bowl with the ice cream mixture from the ice bath, and wipe its bottom with a kitchen towel. The ice cream mixture is now ready for churning.

When churning with a domestic ice cream maker, the ice cream mixture must be fridge-cold (4ºC–12ºC / 39ºF-54ºF / it feels fridge-cold when you place your index finger into it).

If the ice cream mixture is not cold enough, the ice cream maker may not be able to churn it to its fullest potential, resulting in a sloppy liquid vs. fluffy ice cream.

This ice cream will expand and fluff up during churning. It is ready when it looks smooth and fluffy, with the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. The total churning time depends on your ice cream maker and could be anywhere from 30-70 minutes.

To evaluate if it is ready, lift a spoonful; it should be thick enough to stand on the spoon, but it will still be soft like soft-serve ice cream. If it looks watery or starts to melt the moment you spoon it, leave it to churn for longer.

In any case, if you feel doubts about the consistency, leave it to churn for ten minutes more. But beware: at this stage, do not expect it to be like store-bought carton ice cream; for now, it should be more like soft-serve ice cream.

It will firm up and become like store-bought ice cream only after it sets in the freezer.

So, stop the ice cream maker when thick and creamy, as described above. If you leave to churn it for much longer, it will start turning grainy.

Note that some ice cream makers are programmed to stop after a specific time, which doesn’t make sense because the ice cream may need to churn for more to reach its fullest potential. So, if you notice that your ice cream maker stops on its own and upon checking the ice cream, you find that it is sloppy instead of fluffy, try to turn the machine on again and leave it to churn until it reaches the desired texture.

The setting time for the ice cream largely depends on the type of ice cream maker you use.

It can take :

  • 3-5 hours for removable freezer bowls (these are the ice cream maker bowls which you should pre-freeze before churning)
  • 1-2 hours for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

Note: the times given are indicative. Setting time depends on many factors.

Check it occasionally (approx. every 2 hours; or as needed) while it is in the freezer. The ice cream is ready when it has an internal temperature of -11ºC / 12ºF. If you do not have a thermometer, to evaluate if the ice cream has set, insert a round tip knife into it, all the way to the bottom: 

  • when the ice cream is ready, it feels firm as you go down, but at the same time it is soft enough to insert the knife into it; it should have this same firm consistency from top to bottom.
  • not ready yet: it will feel hard on the top and softer as you go down
  • if left in the freezer for too long: it will be too hard for the knife to insert into it and too hard to scoop out of the ice cream bowl. Do not worry, though! Read right below how to soften it.

Straight after churning, the ice cream has a soft-serve ice cream consistency and melts immediately upon contact with anything. This makes it impossible to serve or transfer to another container.

Putting it in the freezer after churning sets it and brings it to the right consistency, similar to that of an ice cream parlour’s.

If the ice cream stays in the removable freezer bowl for too long, it will harden and be difficult to remove or serve.

To make it scoopable again, leave it in the refrigerator to soften. That can take:

  • anywhere from 4 to 10 hours for removable freezer bowls (the ones which need pre-freezing before churning)
  • 1-2 hours for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

(Note: the time given is indicative, time may vary depending on many factors, so do check it occasionally as it sits in the refrigerator.)

When the ice cream is easy to scoop (or it has an internal temperature of approx. -11°C / 12°F if you have a thermometer), you can transfer it to another container and store it in the freezer or serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl.

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