The Soup Blog
Recipes, Culinary Insights & Humor Spooned Up Fresh Every Week…………………(Now in its Ice Cream Phase)
Pulp Friction: Key Lime Ice Cream
Categories: Dairy, Ice Cream

When it comes to citrus, I’m a proud Californian.

I don’t have anything against Florida personally, but I’ll take one of my home state’s Washington navels or juicy Valencias any day over the stuff they peddle from the panhandle.

Whenever we stayed over at my grandparents’ house (the same one with all the orchards, see here), my brothers, sister and I got the treat of fresh squeezed orange juice and fresh grapefruits right off the tree. It was heaven. It had some heft too, and lots of pulp not like the “Not from concentrate” charade that comes from FLA. The “fresh squeezed” juice you get at the store is a lot closer, but they’re just grinding up the whole orange so you wind up with a bit too much of the peel’s bitterness. Squeeze it by hand and you get all juice.

Ice Cream Rebus

Oranges were everywhere I turned back then. And so was the label under which all California oranges were sold, Sunkist. That was one of the first brands I ever knew. The sans serif font, the blue ink on the orange peel, the gloss of the skin, it’s all still vivid in my mind. It was even part of my early Disneyland experiences. They had a Sunkist pavilion where you could get fresh orange juice or fresh squeezed lemonade. They also had a Welch’s booth for fresh grape juice and a number of Carnation carts where you could get ice cream made from local dairy products.

Regional produce was the theme of the day because that was what was available. Disneyland was already a national and international attraction, but all the food there was homegrown, not pre-processed and shipped in on a truck.

We weren’t so linked in those days, but traveling at least meant something. Now you see the same rest stop every ten miles, the same outlet stores every 50 miles and the same hotels and restaurant chains all across the country.

It’s like the whole USA has become not so much homogeneous as homogenized.

Note: That’s what they do to whole milk that keeps the fat from ever separating. They force the milk through microfine holes that break the fat molecules up so completely they can never coalesce back into larger pieces. Yum

Sounds sort of like what we’ve become, doesn’t it?

It’s made us forget the great things that made the different regions of this country so distinct, the produce, the cuisine, everything.

So, in order to bring us all closer together, I decided to bury the hatchet with Florida this week and turn a piece of Sunshine State Citrus into some ice cream that couldn’t come from anywhere else.

Not that I’m going to call it “Let’s All Get Along Ice Cream,” no, I’ll call it what it is—Key Lime Ice Cream. It tastes as sweet and creamy as key lime pie and reminds me of the days when we still didn’t agree, but we could at least be civil.


Key Lime Ice Cream

(about 1½ quarts)
1 ½ cup milk
¾ cup sugar
2 T flour
A few grains salt
2 eggs or 3 yolks (pasteurized, if possible, see note)
1 ½ cup cream
4 T key lime juice
4 T sugar

  1. Heat milk to 180-190ºF with sugar, flour and salt, stirring until thick, cover for 10 minutes.
  2. Beat eggs and add ½ cup of mixture while beating, then add eggs to mixture.
    HEALTH NOTE:     Since you’re dealing with eggs here, you need to take care when cooking the custard. Too much cooking and the custard gets lumpy, too little and you risk salmonella.  Another alternative is to use pasteurized eggs.
  3. Heat the mixture for one minute over medium heat, then cool with plastic wrap or wax paper pressed onto the top of the mixture to keep it from developing a skin. Cool for several hours or overnight.
  4. The next day, squeeze the lime juice, sweeten it with sugar and combine it with the cream and the custard mixture from the night before.
  5. Freeze in an ice cream freezer for about 35 minutes.
  6. Put the now frozen ice cream into the freezer for a couple of hours to give it a chance to firm up.

When freezing ice cream, you need to use an ice cream freezer to ensure that a certain amount of air is mixed into the frozen cream. This gives it a lighter, less icy consistency. When freezing sorbet, you may also freeze it in a popsicle mold, a bowl or on a sheet pan. Be sure to stir the mixture occasionally to limit the size of the ice particles. Larger chunks of ice make for granita, miniscule chunks make for a nice smooth sorbet (an ice cream freezer is ideal).

Photo Credit: “Ice Cream Rebus” by the author.

What regional favorites do you love best? Kansas City ribs? Georgia peaches? Kentucky Fried Chicken? Maybe you have one that’s not so well-known or not as much of a cliché. Let me know in a comment.


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