Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, Part 2: Dislikes, Compromises, and Tweaks

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In Part 1 on Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, I told you what I love about this book. (There is a lot to love!) There are a few things, however, that I'm not in love with. This is no offense to Jeni, of course. :)

 What I Don't Like (sorry Jeni!)


1. Refined sweeteners, and too much of them.
Her ice creams may not seem too sweet if you're used to very sweet desserts, but they will if you've been trying to train your palate to enjoy just subtly sweet treats. Sugar, unlike fat, is something we try to limit in our home. So when we eat dessert, we use just enough sugar and no more.

She calls for corn syrup (I'll touch on that next) and white sugar, neither of which I use in my real food kitchen (except for in my water kefir!). These sweeteners don't give us anything nutritious - they've been stripped of all their minerals. I'd rather use sweeteners that give us something good, like sucanat, raw honey, and real maple syrup.

2. Corn, corn, corn.
Ever read The Omnivore's Dilemma? There is a winsomely written section which lists the many ingredients in processed foods that come from corn. Sometimes it's less than obvious, like maltodextrin. But corn syrup and corn starch aren't even trying to be sneaky.

And what's my problem with corn? It's almost always genetically modified, and I just don't trust that stuff.

3. Not raw. Sad day.
I really want to make delicious ice cream with my raw milk that isn't cooked. When I cook my raw milk, I kill the good stuff. This recipe kills the good stuff.

4. A bit complicated. 
These recipes, if you follow them the way she outlines, dirty a lot of dishes and take quite a bit of time. Luckily you can break them up into several steps, and even over several days if you need to. But there is no getting around the fact that this is not a five minute process.

5. Hot cream in plastic? Eek!
Jeni's method for cooling down the hot ice cream base is to pour it into a gallon freezer bag and submerge it in a bowl of ice water.

I kinda see plastic as a necessary evil, and I do my best to not heat things in plastic because the heat causes chemicals from the plastic to leach into your food.

Where I'm Willing to Compromise

I don't have to have everything my way. Here's what I'm willing to let go of.

1. The raw factor.
Raw milk ice creams just haven't turned out very well for me. They taste good, yes, but the texture leaves something to be desired. They are a bit icy, and not creamy and smooth like I want ice cream to be. Since we drink our milk raw and get plenty of probiotics from kombucha, water kefir, yogurt, and fermented vegetables, I'm not going to fret about having cooked ice cream.

2. The time investment.
I wish I could throw some ingredients into my blender, pour it into the ice cream maker, and be done, but the superb quality of Jeni's ice creams is totally worth a little extra time. I've found a few ways to use less dishes, and I'm getting faster after having followed the process several times.

How I Tweak The Recipes

It's actually quite easy to make Jeni's recipes fit my real food desires. Here's what I change.

1. Swap out the white sugar for sucanat.
Sucanat is the least refined cane sugar you can buy. It has a glorious molasses scent and looks like little pellets, perhaps resembling yeast. It is still sugar, yes, but it has retained all the minerals that are present in the sugar cane, so it actually has some nutrition to offer your body.

I sometimes use organic white sugar, if I think the rich flavor of the sucanat will take away from the flavor of the ice cream. I used white sugar for Lime Cardamom Frozen Yogurt, and I went half-and-half for the Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Even ice cream made at home with white sugar is still much healthier than anything you can guy in the store, especially if you're using high quality milk and cream!

2. Use less sugar.
As a general rule, I cut the sugar in half. Most of her recipes call for 2/3 c. of sugar, and I use 1/3 c. Try it once and see if you miss the sweetness.

3. Swap out the corn syrup for honey.
I'm not sure what the purpose of the corn syrup is in the recipe, but I think it's a texture thing. I just use my favorite syrupy sweetener: local raw honey. I'm quite satisfied with the result, and I'm sure not missin' those GMO's!

4. Swap out the cornstarch for arrowroot.
This is another easy swap. In general, you're not supposed to thicken milk products with arrowroot because it makes them a bit slimy, but it seems to work fine in ice cream. Apparently the frozen-ness of the ice cream hides the sliminess. Huh.

5. Chill in the fridge or in a sink full of ice.
Instead of using the plastic bag method, I pour the hot ice cream base into a glass bowl and either put it in a sink full of ice water or put it in the fridge. It takes longer, yes, but I never have more than fifteen minutes of free time at once anyway. :)

6. No more boiling the milk.
When I boil the cream mixture, sometimes my raw milk separates. If that does happen, its the immersion blender to the rescue! But lately, instead of boiling for 4 minutes as she suggests, I bring it to a gentle simmer, add the starch, and cook until slightly thickened. Works just as well!

Stay tuned! On Monday I'll share Part 3. It's what you've been waiting for: a recipe!

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post.

This is Part of: Freaky Friday, Foodie Friday


  1. I like this posts :) You know I love ice cream & Jeni got me hooked! On pages 15 & 16 she talks about why she calls for corn syrup & cornstarch. Normally she uses tapioca syrup & tapioca starch, but the corn ones are just easier to find (& this IS a book about making ice cream at home possible and accessible to everyone. Sometimes she's seems like the Julia Child of ice cream where she wants everyone to be able to make a fabulous meal...or in this case...quart of dessert, at home). But yeah, I like that you are playing with other ways to sneak in some nutrients. Keep it up girl!

    1. Thanks Sarah! I must have forgotten that! I do love that she's making it accessible. she's awesome. and so are you, for many reasons, including buying me this book! BTW the mint choc. freckle was amazing! posting soon. :)