Lemon-Vanilla Gelato

Happy Summer! I love making different varieties of gelato, ice cream and sorbet at home during these hot, dry months. When I was a kid, we had one of those hand crank ice cream makers. Every Fourth of July my parents would drag it out from the closet beneath our stairs, dust it off and fill it with ice and rock salt. It was my brother’s and my job to crank it, taking turns until our arms felt like jelly and it became impossible to turn. Then my father would take over and finish it off. It was such a special treat, but such an ordeal to make that we only got to enjoy homemade ice cream once or twice a year. Thank goodness for modern ice cream makers! Mine is, by far, one of my favourite small appliances – no joke!

Here’s a quick and easy recipe to welcome in Summer that I’ve made twice this month already. Lemon-Vanilla Gelato is so delicate and refined – it tastes like a mix of vanilla ice cream with a splash of limoncello. Two of my favourite flavours of summer! I serve this with fresh blueberries. I hope you’ll enjoy!

What’s the difference between ice cream and gelato? American ice cream is lighter, with a texture that is more crystalline and airy than gelato. It’s usually made with a custard-style base that contains eggs. Gelato, on the other hand, is smoother, heavier and creamier. Despite not containing eggs, it’s more dense than American ice cream, and has a richer mouthfeel. While ice cream is served straight out of the freezer, gelato needs some time to warm up. It should be served 10 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than ice cream.

Lemon-Vanilla Gelato

  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of one lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 – 2 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Make sure the freezer bowl of your ice cream maker has been in the freezer for at least 24 hours before starting the gelato. This is the model that I use.

Make the base: Whisk together the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, zest, food coloring and salt. (Don’t add the lemon juice until ready to churn or the mixture will curdle.) Stir to dissolve the sugar then cover the bowl and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

When ready to churn, whisk the base mixture again to make sure it’s well-combined. Turn on the ice cream maker and slowly pour in the base mixture. Let the gelato churn for a minute, then slowly pour in the lemon juice, letting the machine mix it in.

Churn the gelato according to the instructions for your specific ice cream maker. In mine it takes about 20 minutes. Transfer the gelato to a freezer safe bowl and place in the freezer until ready to serve. Remove the gelato from the freezer 5 – 10 minutes before serving. Gelato should not be ice cold when served. It should be served at a temperature that is slightly higher than ice cream so that it remains soft and creamy.

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