How To

Stabilizers in Ice Cream Part 2: Strawberry Ice Cream

Icy chunks of frozen strawberries in ice cream are the culinary equivalent of fingernails on a chalkboard. Blending the fruit helps, but all the water in the juice still makes for an ice cream that tastes more cold and frosty than smooth and creamy. After my previous experiment with stabilizers in vanilla ice cream, I decided to give the problematic strawberry ice cream another shot, this time with xanthan gum powder.

The result was a perfect strawberry ice cream that was as good as any version I’ve had, without even a hint of iciness. The amount of xanthan gum was just enough to compensate for all the water in the fruit, but not enough to make it taste like some of the fake, too-sticky commercial ice creams. This was a winner.

Strawberry Ice cream

16 ounces fresh strawberries
1/3 cup sugar
Juice of half a lemon
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon xanthan gum powder

(makes a little more than a quart)

Hull the strawberries and slice them in half. Add the sugar and lemon juice, cover, and refrigerate for an hour. Then mash the strawberries and strain out the excess juice. The juice can be saved for later, and cooked down to a syrup to be poured over the ice cream. Follow the instructions in my Sweet Cream Base post to combine the eggs, sugar, cream, and milk. Mix the sweet cream base with the strawberries in a blender, and add the xanthan gum powder while the blender is running. Before freezing it in an ice cream maker, taste the mix to make sure it’s sweet enough. If the strawberries aren’t quite as sweet as you’d like, add a bit more sugar until it tastes right. I ended up adding another two tablespoons to the recipe above, but the ripeness of your strawberries may give you a different result.


16 comments for “Stabilizers in Ice Cream Part 2: Strawberry Ice Cream”

  1. Kris wrote:

    Awesome post!! Glad to see a new one up. Keep writing!

    December 21, 2009, 7:56 pm
  2. Mike wrote:

    Thanks for the post!

    I had this very issue with strawberry ice cream earlier this year and you just solved the one very huge issue.

    December 27, 2009, 12:32 pm
  3. Lindsay wrote:

    I’m telling you we have some sort of ice cream connection! I just starting experimenting with xanthan gum in a few of my ice creams as well. Check out my posts about candy cane ice cream and brown sugar ice cream if you’re curious. Great post!

    January 7, 2010, 12:01 pm
  4. Annabel wrote:

    I just found your blog and I am thrilled with it. I’m researching a possible ice cream business where I live and you have answered so many of my questions.
    Please keep up with the great work and if we do open, we’ll let you know.

    January 21, 2010, 2:17 pm
  5. Oliver wrote:

    Can you make you substitute 1 cup whole milk with xanthan gum to heavy whipping cream? Would there be a big differrence?

    August 7, 2011, 4:06 pm
  6. Alicia wrote:

    Roasting strawberries to condense the flavor and remove excess water is one alternative solution if you want to stick with natural organic ingredients. Another alternative is to use freeze dried strawberries which also have very concentrated flavor. They are dry but will rehydrate from the moisture from the ice cream base.

    August 29, 2011, 7:58 pm
  7. Dayha wrote:

    Do you add the xanthan gum after the base has been chilled or right after cooking on the stove? I always chill my base over night before churning.

    September 13, 2011, 1:52 pm
  8. Hervin wrote:

    I did not like the texture that 1tsp gave. Mine came out real taffy like and wasn’t “cold”. I actually retried and quadrupled this recipe and used an 1/8 tsp with absolutely splendid results! A little Xanthan gum goes a loooong ways.

    September 13, 2011, 5:56 pm
  9. Jbgelato wrote:

    Cook the berries with sugar creating a super sweet jam. Getting rid of the water in the berries will get rid of the iciness.

    September 24, 2011, 4:38 pm
  10. California Creamery wrote:

    I have had good luck using freeze dried fruit like strawberry and blueberries. Just re-hydrate the berries in room temp sweet cream base. This way you do not cook the sugar in the berries and you get a fresh crisp berry taste.

    Have fun!

    March 23, 2014, 3:40 pm
  11. Chingiz wrote:

    Hi! You’ve got a great blog here. I’ve got a question about gelatin. In that same very recipe for strawberries I’d like to use gelatin sheets. When would be the perfect time to add them? At the very end, when you’re mixing ice cream base with cold strawberries? Or when making the ice cream base?

    August 21, 2014, 12:46 am
  12. Pete wrote:

    I’ve seen people post… But does anyone actually reply?

    I’m curious if the stabilisers would work on low fat ice creams and sugar free ones. Lkme Whey hey ice cream.

    July 14, 2015, 9:45 pm
  13. Paul R wrote:

    Hi Russell,

    I’m surprised you got a pleasing texture using a teaspoon of xanthan in a quart of ice cream—that’s a huge quantity! About three times as much stabilizer as I’d recommend, and about 7 times as much xanthan. With lower quantities than that, I’ve gotten a chewy frozen texture and a slimy melted texture.

    Xanthan is cool because it’s easy to find and easy to use. It’s not the most efficient stabilizer of the available gums, though. To get good ice crystal suppression, you need to use a quantity that can start to mess with texture. If you want to stick with it, I’d suggest a blend.

    Something I’ve had good luck with, with all easy-to-find ingredients, is 1:3 xanthan to gelatin. If you buy powdered gelatin, you can just mix it with the other powdered ingredients and blend. The gelatin will hydrate at whatever temperature you cook the egg yolks to.

    I use this mixture at under 0.2%. A starting point for a quart of ice cream would be 1.2g gelatin and 0.4g xanthan.

    (you gotta ditch the teaspoons for this stuff. A teaspoon of xanthan is 7grams! A proper scale that reads to 0.01g costs under $30 on amazon).

    I wrote more in depth on stabilizers on my ice cream blog series:

    June 13, 2016, 11:23 am
  14. Paul R wrote:

    Chingiz wrote: I’d like to use gelatin sheets. When would be the perfect time to add them? At the very end, when you’re mixing ice cream base with cold strawberries? Or when making the ice cream base?

    Gelatin needs to hydrate at 140°F or so, so the ideal time to add it is before cooking your base. The sheets need to be soaked in cold water until they get sticky, and then they’ll melt into the hot mix. Or you can use powdered gelatin and blend it / whisk it in with the dry ingredients.

    June 13, 2016, 11:26 am
  15. Jacked Banana wrote:

    No need to mess with commercial stabilizers for home made ice cream.

    I make this Strawberry recipe all the time (well, very close, I use two egg yolks instead of two eggs, but that’s a minor difference. For peach ice cream, I use four yolks since a stronger custard flavor seems to go well with peaches, but many would disagree). The strawberries are mashed up, pureed, and added to the cooked sweet cream – juice included. Here’s my “tricks” to get the texture right, even with all that fruit juice:

    1. Hold the sweet cream mix at 162˚F for 20 minutes. All that’s needed for pasteurizing it is 160˚F for 10 minutes, but best to do 162˚F to compensate for thermomenter miscalibration. Why 20 minutes? Because I want to reduce the mix volume and concentrate it.

    2. Corn syrup. Add two tablespoons. It’s 33% as sweet as sucrose, so add two teaspoons less sugar to maintain the same sweetness. Helps with texture stability.

    3. Dry milk, 1/2 cup. Use fresh high quality dry milk, NOT the stuff that’s sat in your cupboard for years! Dry milk increases the non-fat milk solids, or protein, to compensate for their lost concentration when adding fruit. I use smaller amounts with non-fruit ice creams. It improves overrun, texture, and resistance to ice crystal formation.

    Try it, it works!

    August 23, 2016, 11:59 pm
  16. J Gaines wrote:

    I’ve found that by macerating the strawberries in powdered sugar (which is a mix of sugar and corn starch) overnight, I can get an excellent sweetness level while also creating a light syrup around the strawberry slices. This results in nice, frozen but not icy chunks for strawberries in the ice cream as well. The small amount of corn starch also acts as an excellent stabilizer for the strawberry juice and adds some extra flavor to the cream base without making it course.

    April 2, 2017, 2:02 pm

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