Posted by: Erica Retrochef | July 28, 2014

Susie’s Fresh Lemon Ice Cream

Remember how your family invites The Boss over for dinner all the time, and you need to impress him?


Henry’s boss hadn’t had homemade ice cream since he was a kid. No wonder he raved and raved. Susie didn’t tell him it was easy. Just a little lemon trick.

What I really like about this little tidbit is it shows that homemade ice cream was antiquated even in the 50’s.

2 cups half & half or heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh grated lemon peel
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

In large bowl, stir together cream and sugar until sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Mix in lemon peel and juice. Pour into ice cube tray, 8″ square pan, or directly into sherbet dishes. Freeze several hours until firm. Makes about 1 1/2 pints.


OK, so you’re not inviting Boss over for dinner. Maybe you just really want some cool and refreshing lemon sherbet during a unpleasantly hot and sticky summer, and you don’t have an ice cream maker.


But you do have a fresh lemon, a pint of half and half, and some sugar.

The zest is largely for color and texture, I think.


What was really cool here was the chemistry.

The lemon juice made it thicker almost as soon as it was poured in — not quite ice cream thick, perhaps, but heavy cream thick. The change was astonishingly fast.


After it chilled in the freezer for a few hours, it scooped exactly like ice cream and looked exactly like ice cream. (We used Buzz’s grandmother’s fancy Carnival Glass sorbet glass for this picture. Preeeeetty.)

This has spectacular flavor. The fresh lemon is balanced perfectly with the sugar and dairy, and the lemon zest adds nice texture. I do think that half-and-half was a better choice than heavy cream: the thickening effect of the lemon juice was balanced by the lower fat content of the half-and-half. It had the consistency of ice cream without requiring any churning.

I wouldn’t have thought that such a simple recipe could have yielded such results. The Boss would definitely be impressed, and deservedly so.

Lovely Sunkist ad shared on Flickr by Shelf Life Taste Test.


  1. Ooh, this is one retro recipe I actually would like to try!

  2. *leaps up from the computer and runs outside to the lemon tree…*
    I’m excited! I have never attempted lemon ice cream because …curdling automatically comes to mind. I’m SO going to do this.

  3. I’m thinking of paneer or other acid-curdled cheese, but apart from the odd association in my mind this sounds rather good…

  4. I gotta question…and I’m asking because the answer seems so obvious I fear I’m over thinking this.

    Is there ANY reason why this couldn’t be doubled and fixed in an ice cream freezer?

    • I’ve made it doubled, and increasing the volume that much would benefit from some time in the ice cream maker — not critical, but it would help fluff things

      • Thanks Erica.

  5. I tried this with half-and-half like you did, and it came out very solid and hard to scoop, with ice crystals in it. Maybe my freezer is just too cold, but would heavy cream work any differently?

    As is, the flavor reminds me of a Creamsicle. I might have to try this with orange juice and make it into ice pops instead of ice cream. πŸ™‚

  6. I made this with a friend to make up for a weird recipe we were about to try- it’s delicious! Thank you!

  7. I’ve made this in the past, or at least a very similar recipe (the proportions might have differed somewhat). The suggestion I saw was to stir the ice cream occasionally as it froze, every 20–30 minutes or so.

  8. For anyone who isn’t too thrilled about the curdling effect but thinks this otherwise sounds delicious: I’ve made something similar a few times by combining the lemon juice and sugar and boiling it for a few minutes in the microwave to get a syrup, and the milk ingredients don’t seem to curdle when that’s added to them.

    • It doesn’t really curdle like milk would since you start with half-and-half, so no milk chunks appear. Neat tip about boiling though.

  9. The most recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated features an unfrozen version of this recipe, creamy lemon custard they call posset.
    Incidentally, the article mentions that drugged posset is what Lady Macbeth fed the grooms the night Macbeth murdered King Duncan. 😁

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