July combines two of my favorite things; it’s National Picnic Month and Sunday is National Ice Cream Day. The perfect time to enjoy dairy-free Cherry Apricot Ice Cream.
Ice cream and I have a love-hate relationship. I love it – it doesn’t really love me. Too fatty, too sweet – tastes great on the tongue, doesn’t help shrink my belly one bit. But I am not willing to give up the idea of ice cream, so I use alternative bases like yogurt and coconut milk to make delectable frozen treats.
Northwest Sweet Cherries
The other day I made a big batch of apricot-cherry puree, but a small batch of Spirited Apricot Cherry Butter. I knew just what to do with the leftover puree. Of course, the cherries were via the Washington State Fruit Commission and Northwest Cherry Growers where I am honored to once again be a Canbassador.
What is a Canbassador?
As a Canbassador my job is to make all kinds of wonderful preserved cherry items and then share them with the SeedtoPantry community here on the blog. Cherries and other stone fruits are one of the reasons I love living here in the Mid-Columbia. Commercial crops here include all kinds of sweet cherries, apricots, peaches, and plums. At one point we had two cherry trees of our own, but cut them down several years ago. I just couldn’t get the same beautiful results the pros at Northwest Cherry Growers get.
You can find out lots more about our wonderful Washington stone fruits over at the SweetPreservation site. There are instructions for canning and freezing fruit, all kinds of ideas for throwing a “preservation party,” recipes, tips for choosing the best fruit at the grocery store, and professionally designed labels to download.
Preserving Cherries in the Freezer
We tend to think of canning first when preserving fresh fruit. And canning is a great idea. I have made Canned Cherries in Honey-Vanilla Syrup, and several cherry jams including Sweet Cherry-Ginger Jam.
And then there is the freezer. Frozen pitted cherries keep wonderfully for smoothies or to eat out of hand. Pureeing cherries and freezing the puree is yet another way to preserve. The thawed puree can then be used to make ice cream, fruit paste, fruit leather or fruit sauces.
Dairy-Free, Vegan, and even Low-Sugar
This recipe is dairy free, vegan-friendly (you could use agave syrup or coconut sugar instead of white sugar), and doesn’t have nearly as much sugar as most ice cream recipes. That’s because the sweet cherries and tangy apricots add so much flavor you don’t need extra sweetness.
Use canned coconut milk instead of carton of coconut milk. We want the stuff that is suitable for cooking, not drinking. Canned coconut milk can usually be found with the Thai or Indian foods at the grocery store. Don’t confuse it with Cream of Coconut, which is much thicker. Cream of coconut can usually be found with the mixers.
- 1 can (15 oz.) coconut milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 4-5 cups cherry, apricot, or cherry-apricot puree
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- Combine coconut milk and sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
- Cover and refrigerate until chilled; at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Combine puree, coconut milk mixture, and lemon juice.
- For best results, chill mixture overnight. However, this step may be skipped if desired.
- Stir well. Add mixture to a 2-quart ice cream maker and freeze, following manufacturer’s instructions.
- Note: Mixture may be divided into two batches if necessary, i.e. if your ice cream maker only makes 1-1½ quarts.
- Spoon into an air tight container and store in the freezer. Allow to slightly thaw before serving, 15 minutes to ½ hour.
Full disclosure: This recipe was made with cherries I received from the Washington State Fruit Commission.