Vanilla Kefir Ice Cream

by Ann Marie Michaels on June 22, 2011

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vanilla ice cream

Homemade vanilla ice cream from grass-fed cows is exceptionally healthy. Want to make it even healthier? Make it probiotic!

Culturing grass-fed milk and cream with kefir grains adds beneficial bacteria which can help improve digestion and absorption. Click here to read my 8 Reasons to Eat Fermented Foods (like kefir).

Why Grass-Fed Ice Cream?

Grass-fed cream is extremely rich in vitamin K2, which is critical for strong bones and teeth, as well as heart health.

You see, vitamin K2 is the vitamin we need to tell the body where to put the calcium we absorb. Just like we need vitamin D in order to utilize calcium, we need vitamin K2 to tell the body where to put it.

So if you have a vitamin K2 deficiency, the calcium doesn’t go into our bones and your teeth — it goes into your organs. Like your brain or your heart or your kidneys. This is why we end up with heart disease, seizures and other nervous system disorders, and kidney stones. The calcium is deposited in places where it shouldn’t be.

This is also why we suffer from osteoporosis, bone loss and dental decay. Vitamin K2 tells the body, “Calcium goes in the bones and teeth!”

But how many of us are getting enough vitamin K2? Are you eating cream and butter from cows eating green grass? Only grass-fed cream and butter is rich in vitamin K2.

So here’s your excuse to eat more cream and butter!

Recipe Notes:

For good vanilla flavor, use real vanilla extract — not that faux “vanillin” stuff they try to pass off as vanilla extract. Here’s my recipe for homemade vanilla extract. If you are on the GAPS diet, use vodka instead of rum or Bourbon to make your vanilla extract.

You can also use Vanilla Beans instead of vanilla extract. Just scrape the beans from the vanilla bean pod into the mixture. Add as much as you need to get the right flavor.

Also, if you are on the GAPS diet, use honey instead of maple syrup or other sweetener.

You can also use coconut milk (full-fat) if you are dairy-free.

You may also purchase kefir powder to use instead of the kefir grains. You may also purchase ready-made milk kefir from the health food store, if you do not have kefir grains. (However, if you are on the GAPS diet, you need to use homemade kefir.)

For more info on making kefir, read my tutorial on how to make kefir.

Vanilla Kefir Ice Cream

Difficulty: Easy
Makes 1 quart

Ingredients

Whole milk, grass-fed, raw if possible (1 cup) — where to buy milk
Heavy cream, grass-fed, raw if possible (1 cup)
Kefir grains — where to buy starters
Sea salt, a pinch — where to buy sea salt
Coconut sugar, sucanat, maple syrup or honey (1/2 cup, or more, to taste) — where to buy sweeteners
Eggs, pastured (4)
Vanilla extract, real, homemade and/or organic (1 tsp) — click here for the recipe for homemade vanilla extract

Equipment

Blender or food processor
Ice cream maker (canister style — I recommend the Cuisinart)

Directions

Milk kefir and kefired cream:
1. You will need about 1/2 tablepoon of milk kefir grains and 1 cup of whole milk to make the milk kefir. Place the grains in a clean mason jar and fill with the milk.
2. Gently stir to incorporate and cover the jar with a napkin or cheesecloth and rubber band.
3. Let sit at room temperature for about 12-24 hours, stirring occasionally. Each time you stir, taste the kefir. It should be thick and tart.
4. Once done, strain the kefir grains out of the milk with a fine mesh strainer, and transfer to another jar to make another batch, or store in the refrigerator.
5. Make the kefired cream in the same manner. (Or you can just do them both together.)

Ice Cream:
1. Place canister of the ice cream machine in the freezer for at least 12 hours.
2. Separate the egg yolks from the whites and place yolks in the food processor. Save the whites for another use if desired (egg whites freeze well).
3. Add the remaining ingredients into the food processor or blender and mix well. You can also just use a bowl and a whisk.
4. Add to the ice cream machine and run for 25 to 45 minutes (according to the directions for your ice cream machine).
5. Enjoy immediately or transfer to a shallow container and store in in the freezer.

Photo credit: wintersoul1 on Flickr
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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Pavil, the Uber Noob June 22, 2011 at 5:14 AM

Awesome idea, Ms. CheeseSlave.
We harvest 3 pints of raw guernsey milk kefir daily. So diverting a cup for ice cream should be trivial. I look forward to trying this.

We just polished off the version of ice cream from Nourishing Traditions. Pure silk.

Now, what to do with the frozen whites?…

Ciao, Pavil

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Alexandra June 22, 2011 at 9:04 AM

Cheesy souffle?

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cheeseslave June 22, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Meringue, macaroons, or frosting.

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kirstenmichelle July 2, 2011 at 2:47 PM

Give them to me? ;)

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Natalie June 22, 2011 at 5:49 AM

I have access to Kefir – but, not grains (I’m in Europe). How can I adapt this with pre-made, organic plain kefir?

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cheeseslave June 22, 2011 at 11:15 AM

Yes just use premade kefir. See the recipe notes.

I really recommend kefir made from grass-fed cows, however, Can you find out if the kefir you have is grass-fed?

Also, most people I know who sell kefir grains will ship internationally. You can find sources here: http://villagegreennetwork.com/marketplace/fermented-food-starters?pid=1” target=”_blank”

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Natalie June 22, 2011 at 1:24 PM

In Germany, it is probably from grass-fed cows. Or, partly so. I can get raw milk here, certified organic too. But, I don’t think the cows are on pasture in this part of Germany as often as I’d like. I don’t see the yellowish cream like I did when I got my raw milk at a farm in the States last year. But, there’s nothing I can do about that. I get what I can get. I have found kefir starter around here and I have made it. But, not sure if I’m going to tackle it again (not that it’s hard – I’ll be out of town a lot this summer). Can you explain how I make kefir cream with premade kefir?

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cheeseslave June 22, 2011 at 4:03 PM

I don’t know how you would make kefir cream with premade kefir. You could just use half kefir and half regular cream.

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cheeseslave June 22, 2011 at 4:04 PM

You could also make sour cream with a creme fraiche culture.

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tessag July 4, 2011 at 8:07 PM

I have done this…delicious!

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Vivian June 22, 2011 at 6:43 AM

Looks great! I’m always looking for healthy treats for my young daughters. Just a question: could the milk and cream be combined and cultured just once instead of culturing them separately? Or would that change the consistency of the ice cream?
Thanks!

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Pavil, the Uber Noob June 22, 2011 at 9:17 AM

If I understand correctly, the milk kefir becomes an alternate cream. It definitely has its own thick, smooth texture. So, you end up with a blend of sweet cream and thick milk kefir. If you cultured the cream, you should get European sour cream (creme fraiche).
Let us know how it worked :)

Ciao, Pavil

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Vivian June 22, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Thank you for a quick reply! That makes a lot of sense. Now I just need to check if my kefir grain is any worse for wear due to inattention.

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cheeseslave June 22, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Yes I meant to add that to the recipe.

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Beth June 22, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Could you please let me know if the recipe is update?… I’m a little unclear on this. Thanks!

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Andra June 22, 2011 at 7:41 AM

I made a beautiful frozen yogurt made from raw milk Bulgarian yogurt that I had cultured the day before. I made a batch of meyer lemon curd sweetened with just a touch of raw honey and ran it through the Cuisinart. It turned out heavenly!

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cheeseslave June 22, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Yum!

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Beth June 22, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Can you make this without an ice cream maker?

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cheeseslave June 22, 2011 at 12:27 PM
Beth June 22, 2011 at 3:21 PM

Oh, yeah – this is so exciting! Just in time for summer. I’ve never made this before, and the idea of culturing it is just the little extra push I need. This will open up a whole new world!!

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Cindy June 22, 2011 at 12:18 PM

This is the best info I’ve seen today!! Thanks for the post. I make kefir daily with whole milk and have also been making ice cream with my cuisinart. Been thinking about making kefir ice cream but wasn’t sure about a recipe. THANK YOU THANK YOU! Can’t wait to try.

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Erica June 22, 2011 at 12:35 PM

YUM!!!…YUM!!!…YUM!!!… :)

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Anne Fischer Silva June 22, 2011 at 1:04 PM

I just started some vanilla ice cream right before reading this. I made mine with 1 cup homemade yogurt and 2 cups cream. I also used a whole vanilla bean, split and scraped out. It gives a lovely, intense vanilla flavor.

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cheeseslave June 22, 2011 at 4:04 PM

I usually make my ice cream with 100% cream — no milk.

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tessag July 4, 2011 at 8:10 PM

Me too, all cream. :)

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Marina June 22, 2011 at 3:11 PM

nice!
also, if your digestion and intestinal health is very good, vitamin K can be produced in the large intestine.
i did not have much luck with using raw eggs in ice cream – it becomes to crystalline. any tips for this? so far i just use cream and it turns out very good.

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cheeseslave June 22, 2011 at 4:05 PM

I’ve never had this problem. For me, it works just fine to use the egg yolks.

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Tori June 22, 2011 at 5:45 PM

I was on SDC and did something similar that I loved. Used homemade Kefir, date paste and vanilla. Your recipe looks yummy, I like the use of egg yolks, looking forward to trying it! Thanks!

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Rachel June 22, 2011 at 8:24 PM

It looks delicious, but wouldn’t freezing kill a lot of the good bacteria in the kefir?

http://tuftsjournal.tufts.edu/2008/06/professor/01/

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cheeseslave June 22, 2011 at 9:04 PM

No. That guy is talking about flash freezing, but even then he doesn’t say they’ll die. You can freeze kefir grains and they still ferment milk.

http://users.sa.chariot.net.au/~dna/Makekefir.html

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Misti December 14, 2013 at 8:47 PM

That sight you referenced actually says that if there is any liquid with the grains when freezing it will kill the organisms so yes it would kill the beneficial bacteria…maybe not immediately.

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Cathy June 23, 2011 at 6:37 AM

If the kefir ice cream is frozen, will that damage the beneficial bacteria in the kefir? I love my friendly neighborhood bacteria, and wouldn’t want to go to all that work and then not experience the benefits of it!

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cheeseslave June 27, 2011 at 6:09 AM

No it won’t damage the bacteria. They just go dormant when frozen. This is why you can freeze kefir grains and they still work.

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Gayle June 24, 2011 at 8:23 AM

I’ve been making my own kefir for the last year or so, and tried this recipe last night. It’s delicious! I had a ripe peach and some strawberries, so added those in while it was churning.

Thanks for sharing this. :)

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Charisma June 24, 2011 at 3:54 PM

Can I use store-bought Kefir?

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cheeseslave June 27, 2011 at 6:09 AM

Yes, you can.

Just know that the storebought kefir is not fermented as long as most people ferment theirs at home. I typically let mine go for 24 hours and in the store it’s much shorter, oftentimes only 4 hours. So the storebought kefir is typicaly not as probiotic as homemade.

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Kathryn June 26, 2011 at 6:57 PM

Am so happy to find a probiotic dessert. I look forward to making this. I bet it would be good with some lemon essential oil instead of or with the vanilla, some lemon zest, and a couple tablespoons lemon juice….

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cathy June 27, 2011 at 9:30 AM

After reading this post on Kefir ice cream, it’s got me wondering if kefir could be used to make buttermilk pie. It would probably damage the bacteria cultures, but the flavor would still be there and if made with grass fed raw butter, kefir and pasture raised eggs, might be healthy. Any thoughts on this?

Buttermilk Pie
Ingredients:
• 1 1/3 cups sugar
• 3 Tbsp. flour
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
• 1 cup buttermilk
• 2 tsp. vanilla
• 1 tsp. lemon extract
• 1 (9 or 10 inch) unbaked pastry shell
Directions:
Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes without opening door.

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cheeseslave June 27, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Sounds yummy! You can absolutely use kefir. I use kefir as a substitute for buttermilk often.

I would use sucanat or coconut sugar instead of the plain white sugar. I would also use sprouted flour (you can sift it if you like) instead of regular flour. And instead of lemon extract, I would use fresh lemon zest.

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Cathy June 27, 2011 at 10:57 AM

I have both types of sugar on hand, and was thinking of making up another batch of sprouted flour, too! Do you think it would be ok to freeze sprouted flour to be able to keep it on hand at little easier?

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Bethany July 2, 2011 at 5:56 AM

This inspired me to make my own icecream… I don’t have a ice cream maker so it didn’t turn out quite as nice as it could have I am sure but we all loved it, especially since it’s been almost 9months since I have purchased any ice cream… I made it with some raw goat milk yogurt I had made…yum yum !

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riceinmay July 3, 2011 at 9:45 PM

We have been making this ice cream (only with just 2 TBS of maple syrup). We LOVE it. My husband actually prefers it over our regular ice cream recipe. I just kefir fresh milk and cream together everday- then we always have plenty available. Thanks!!!!!

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leighann July 5, 2011 at 8:26 PM

using kefir is brilliant! can’t wait to try this.

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FarmerKimberly July 7, 2011 at 9:37 PM

Does the Kefir powder make as good of product as the kefir grains?

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coconutfreek July 21, 2011 at 5:57 PM

this inspired me to get my kefir grains out of the freezer……… time for kefir. I have been drinking piima. who says one can’t ahve both? :-)

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Angie August 3, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Hi,
I was wondering if you’d had problems using honey with this recipe. I was afraid the honey might get too hard when cold to work well.
Thanks!

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Mindy @ Too Many Jars in My Kitchen! September 27, 2011 at 8:26 PM

I just made this tonight with kefir goat milk & coconut milk cream. So delicious! Thanks for the great recipe. : )

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greenmama March 2, 2012 at 7:36 PM

I made this today, and two of my children and my husband loved it. The recipe is very forgiving, I accidentally used almost 3 cups of kefir and 1 cup of sour cream (made with yogurt instead of kefir) instead of the 2 cups total. I had to add a little extra honey and vanilla, but it turned out great and was such a treat for my family (and was just the right size batch for my cuisinart ice cream maker). I am sure we will be making this again, thank you!

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greenmama March 2, 2012 at 7:39 PM

next time I am going to try adding pureed local organic strawberries or peaches, I think that would be a huge hit with my family. Thanks again for the recipe!

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Sheri May 16, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Just curious – if the kefir is frozen to make the ice cream – doesn’t that kill the probiotics? (Still want to make this for a treat either way!)

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Sonya Race April 22, 2013 at 11:24 AM

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I also sent a message earlier to get a new login/password to my new email (here on my comments) for Reversing Food Allergies I purchased last year. Ready to begin your online work towards greater health. Thank you so much for all the information and recipes. I’ve made many of them on your blog and look forward to your online course to help with my leaky gut.

Much love and peace!!

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Alexis May 19, 2013 at 4:37 PM

This is such a great idea! I don’t have access to kefir grains, but I do have freeze-dried kefir starter (from Yogourmet). If I make kefir using that, can I proceed from there with the recipe?

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