Coconut cream - a great base for low FODMAP ice cream

Here in California, it’s been summer for a while now. After a few weeks of bitter cold (I mean, the temperature fell down to the low twenties, and there was an iced-over puddle at Stanford!), one morning in January I was riding my bike to work and suddenly realised that the wind was blowing warmer, the trees were in bloom and well, summer is here.

In lieu of explanation: we only have two seasons in California, the green one and the yellow one. They appear randomly one after another – e.g. last year the green season started in early December, but this year it was late January. So, winter, summer and other such frivolities are very much a matter of personal preference. Having lived most of my life in substantially harsher climates, I end up calling December and January winter, and the rest – summer. Seriously, the warmest June day in Manchester has nothing on last Christmas in Cali…

Honeydew melon

Anyway. Summer means ice-cream. Now, I’ve only ever liked ice-cream in Italy (guess it was actually gelato), anything else is too sweet, too heavy and just too much. Instead, I’ve always been a fan of sorbets… mango used to be my favourite, followed closely by lemon. The latter is definitely manageable on the low FODMAP diet, and I will certainly brave it – when I have time to sit for four hours near my freezer and keep churning it be hand – but for now, I wanted some quick and dirty instant gratification. At first, I tried freezing pureed fruit and that works just fine, but it really doesn’t scratch that I-want-decadence itch. For a while after that, I pondered the purchase of an ice-cream machine to make sorbet in – where I would put it, I don’t know, small kitchen appliances and cookware occupy every inch of space in my apartment – but then, I spotted something in the fridge I completely forgot about. Some five months ago, I decided to try separating a can of coconut milk into water and fat to try and make coconut whipped cream, and so I stuck it in the fridge. One is supposed to keep it there for at least a day, and then the fat should rise to the top of the can; after opening, it can be scooped out with a spoon and whipped with sugar. However, in the last few months I moved to a different city, went through a few weeks without a fridge… and that can stayed with me. At this point, I no longer knew what was going to be inside – an explosive mixture of coconut shrapnel in transformed juice? Completely homogeneous coconut milk? An army of Oompa Loompas? But I was desperate. I wanted ice-cream! And so, wearing my biohazard suit… I mean, my ‘can-get-dirty’ clothes… and armed with a can opener, I carried out an attack.

Coconut cream

Unsurprisingly, the milk was perfectly fine – they can it for a reason after all – but surprisingly, it was perfectly separated! From that moment, I entered a fast track to ice-cream. What I eventually got was a very interesting cross between ice cream and ice lollies (or popsicles), not at all heavy, but very melt-in-the-mouth. The best of both worlds.

Coconut Melon Ice-Cream Lollies

(Yield: 8-10 lollies, preparation: 20 minutes, total time: 4-6 hours, difficulty: easy)

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 medium honeydew melon, ripe
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Honeydew melon in a red pot

Here’s the order of preparation. Buy a honeydew melon a few days in advance, preferably from a local supplier – they’re less likely to harvest them ridiculously unripe, which is what usually happens if the fruit needs to be transported. Try to get one without blemishes, since you’ll want to leave it on the counter for 5-10 days to ripen; blemishes may cause it to spoil. Put the can of coconut milk in the fridge for at least 12 hours, preferably longer (a few days). When ready to make the ice cream, remove seeds from the cantaloupe, slice it into half-moons, peel each slice, cut up into cubes and blend into a puree. Carefully open the can of milk and scoop out the cream, taking care to not get any of the water. You can add the water to a smoothie if you like – it has lots of nutrients! Once you have the coconut cream safely deposited in a bowl, add the sugar and whip with an electric mixer set on high for 1-2 minutes, till it becomes homogeneous. Add the melon puree one tablespoon at a time and stir into the cream, add the vanilla extract and stir well. Spoon the mixture into ice lolly molds, add the sticks and place in the freezer for  4-6 hours, or until they set.  To remove each ice lolly from the mold, pour some warm water over it, grab the stick and then wiggle it out.

Coconut Melon Ice-Cream Lollies

The consistency of these is very pleasing, somewhat closer to an ice lolly than soft ice-cream, which makes a small portion last longer – definitely a plus, considering the relatively high calorie-to-nutrition ratio. That being said, you can bite into them, and they also melt a lot more pleasantly than traditional ice lollies, which can be a little rough on your lips. Underneath the smoothness of the coconut and freshness of the melon hides a slightly bitter melon after-taste, which I find very pleasant, but if you want to avoid it, try increasing the amount of sugar – though I must warn you, these are already pretty sweet.

See you on a summer day… I’m off to get my hammock.

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When your love for onion rings, whipped cream latté and apple pie has to surrender in the face of a gastrointestinal war... when the world becomes a bleak place, full of chicken soup and carrots... do not despair! There's more than one sweet fish in the sea, and your culinary adventures have only just begun. I hereby present you Squashablanca, the land of plenty for people following a low-sugar version of the low FODMAP diet. Enjoy your food!

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