Milk kefir is an amazing and delicious probiotic beverage as is, but it also makes absolutely luscious ice cream, too. What’s better than rich and creamy ice cream? Ice cream that’s studded with bits of organic banana, shredded coconut, and chocolate chunks. Oh, yeah!
It all starts with the star of the show: milk kefir. Milk kefir is created by a starter culture called milk kefir “grains”, though they’re not really grains (in the cereal sense) at all; rather, they’re little rubbery blobs that are actually tiny SCOBYs. As a mesophilic culture, milk kefir ferments at room temperature and the grains are fueled by the sugar naturally present in milk (lactose).
Even the lactose intolerant may be able to drink milk kefir: a 2003 study by Ohio State University researchers showed that “for lactose intolerant adults, drinking fermented milk [milk kefir] either eliminated or drastically reduced symptoms related to lactose intolerance.” Milk kefir may also be made from coconut milk or nut milks (like almond milk), but the grains must periodically be fed dairy milk to keep them healthy.
While there is evidence-based support for the health benefits of consuming milk kefir, I drink it because it’s nutritious and helps keep the immune system (via the gut, through the probiotics) healthy and strong…and it’s tasty! I especially enjoy it when it’s “matured” to the point where it becomes slightly effervescent – fizzy dairy, though unusual, is fun to drink! The whey is poured off and retained to be used as a fermentation starter (works great in beet kvass and sauerkraut), and doing so creates an even thicker and richer kefir.
To make the ice cream, I poured 2 cups of finished milk kefir and 1 cup of cream (kefired cream could also be used, but I find that it can be very challenging removing the grains from the super-thick kefired cream), along with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract into my ice cream maker. I took a tad too long to get the ingredients in, and the liquid formed a sheet of ice on the inside of the pre-frozen bowl…so time is of the essence! Once the crust was broken up so that the machine could turn properly, it began to thicken nicely.
When the mixture was somewhat thick, I slowly added in minced banana, dried coconut, and semi-sweet chocolate chunks. After it mixed well, I transferred the soft ice cream into a glass bowl and put it in the freezer to harden.
The preliminary taste test indicated that this ice cream is nothing short of dreamy. It’s rich, creamy, and possesses a delicious, lightly cheesy, quality that comes from the milk kefir. The add-ins complement the vanilla base perfectly, and provide some fun crunchiness.
Verdict: WINNER! This is so good that I could see making milk kefir just to supply my ice cream needs…and I foresee many delightful future variations!