how to make vegan nice cream

I know you've heard about this trick a million times over. Or, maybe you have yet to try it. The ole frozen banana trick - it's classic yet it seems that no one knows about it yet.* Every Instagram feed I follow at some point posts something in the vein that they're dumbfounded how they didn't know about it before. But when I hear people talk about it, they make it seem as easy as "one ingredient, takes less than 20 seconds, tastes so yummie!" And I guess you could say that's pretty true. It's incredibly simple, easy, quick, cheap, etc. The perfect dessert. No question!

(*A primer for those who have never heard of this: basically, you peel, slice, freeze, then blend bananas into a whipped, semi-solid consistency that is very close in texture and flavor to soft serve ice cream.)

But after making this for several years now, there's a little more nuance than just "freeze, blend, and eat." We've made terrible bowls of this, and some amazing ones. Here are our tips, that in our experience, make this legendary vegan creation the best it can possibly be. 

Buy bananas in bulk when they're super cheap. 

We buy bananas once a year specifically to freeze, that way we have ice cream and smoothie ingredients for several months. And if you like the ripe texture/flavor, buying cheaper extra-ripe bananas will save you even more money. Buying them all at once makes for a much more streamlined prep assembly line, as well.

The ripeness of the banana completely matters.

  • Green ones are a definite no-go for me - they taste too grassy and the texture is way too stiff, making it harder to blend later.
  • Unblemished yellow are good if you aren't crazy about the whole "banana" flavor - they're a more subtle banana taste and have a good texture.
  • Spotty bananas are my favorite; they have a pronounced banana flavor, they're sweeter-tasting than the yellow, and have great texture.
  • Completely brown bananas are not good for ice cream, in my opinion, because they have a very overpowering flavor, the texture is mushy and breaks down quickly, and the color doesn't look as nice when blended. Use those for banana bread instead!

Prep thoughtfully.

  • Make sure you peel your bananas. It's way harder to peel them frozen when you're ready to blend.
  • Slice the banana into small pieces, about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. If you make the pieces too big you may end up with an inconsistent blend.
  • If you care about portion control, separate your haul into 1-2 bananas per freezer bag. Just one banana is enough to make a serving for one person, and it's harder to tell that if you put them all in one storage container.
  • We use a vaccuum-pack food sealer when freezing large quantities for a long period of time. It's not necessary but saves a lot of potential waste from freezer burn.

Don't overblend.

I first make sure all of my frozen banana pieces are separated, then pulse my blender until they've turned to small pebble-like pieces. From there, I blend until just combined and the right texture. Not only does this technique save your blender from breaking, it prevents the banana from becoming too soupy and liquid.

Perfect your flavors.

I personally think that this banana ice cream should be kept simple - no real fancy recipes. Let it be banana, and add flavors that complement it. I always, always add a dash of vanilla extract and a tiny pinch of salt before blending - it helps cut the banana taste a bit and just adds more dimension. Other flavors that work really well are cocoa, peanut butter, walnut, brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. I also like adding chocolate sauce and candied nuts on top, after blending. 

What are your favorite flavors to add into this miracle dessert? Any other banana ice cream tips and tricks? We'd love to know what works well for you!

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