Stabilizers and emulsifiers
If you’re making skinny ice cream without (much) fat, adding a touch of stabilizer and emulsifier can really improve the texture. Here are a couple of links where you can find out more about using stabilizers and emulsifiers in ice cream and sorbet:
None of my ice cream recipes involve heating the ingredients, so I’ve had the best luck using a combination of guar gum and iota carrageenan as stabilizers, and “mono and diglycerides” as an emulsifier.
DON’T OVERDO THE STABILIZERS AND EMULSIFIERS! Over-stabilized ice cream is gross. A little stabilizer goes a really long way. For example, for one pint, I might use a total of 0.5-0.8 g combined stabilizers, and 0.4-0.6g mono and diglycerides. 0It’s totally worth investing in a kitchen scale that weighs 0.01 gram increments. I got this one from Amazon.de.
Sugar-free pudding mix
If you’re scanning Youtube etc. for Ninja Creami recipes, you’ll quickly find that lots of North Americans are using Jello Sugar Free putting mix. I have good luck adding 5-8g per pint. I’m not sure why, but it really does improve the texture. Here in the Netherlands you can get it here.
You can get sucralose and erythritol here in the Netherlands easily, but what about exotic sweeteners like monk fruit and allulose? So far those aren’t approved yet here in Europe, so we can’t buy them locally. Never fear, you can order them from iHerb.com. I don’t know how iHerb manages this, but there are no duty or import fees to have stuff shipped to the Netherlands. And the shipping is either free or super cheap, like 4-5 Euros.
For skinny ice cream, protein powder is your friend. So far I’ve had good luck using whey protein powder. Here in the Netherlands, I’ve had good luck with the “Impact Whey Protein” from MyProtein.com.
Cottage cheese is also a great way to add protein and improve the texture of your ice cream. Use the regular cottage cheese (not the light one) from AH or Jumbo…those both have a mild taste without too much of a sour “wang.” Adding 100 g or so to a pint does a lot to improve the texture, especially if you’re using non-dairy milks like almond or coconut milk.
Freezing your pints
It’s super, super important to place your pints in a level spot in your freezer. Trying to spin an crooked pint is a recipe for breaking your machine. If it does come out uneven, you can take a knife or spoon and scrape the top to get it even.
People recommend freezing the pints with the lid off to avoid getting a big hump in the middle. I’ve had mixed results with this. What I do now is just make sure the pints are level and freeze with the lid on. This does create a hump in the middle, but as long as it’s centered, it doesn’t seem to bother the machine. I’ve found it’s easier to even out the “middle hump” that forms with lid-off freezing than it is to fix uneven pints that I froze with the lid off.
Advice about spinning
There is a lot of conflicting advice about how to spin. After lots of testing, both me and my sister independently came up with basically the same system.
- No need to let the pint sit out before spinning. Just run hot water over the sides of the container before you spin…you will actually be able to see the sides pulling away from the container.
- Experiment with the different programs. Even though I usually make “light” ice cream, I never use that setting anymore. Even for “light” ice cream, I get better results using one of the more gentle settings, like “sorbet” or “ice cream,” and re-spinning. Here is a list of the different programs and speeds:
There is also a Reddit post here that explains the program speed settings in more detail.
- After the first spin, take a butter knife or similar and run it around the sides to make sure any icy parts are released. I use a stiff plastic picnic knife so it doesn’t scratch the pint container. And if you feel like your ice cream recipe didn’t freeze uniformly, you can also try to stir it a bit and bring the contents of the bottom up to the top. Then you’ll get a more uniform consistency on your respin.
Cleaning your Creami
The one big flaw of the Ninja Creami’s design is the lid, because some people report having a really tough time keeping it clean. So far I have not had any problems AT ALL. I make sure to thoroughly wash it with hot water as soon as I’m done spinning…you will see that there are holes in the lid that allow you to flush out the inside with running water. I let it dry tipped on its side so that any remaining water can drain out. I also make sure to wipe off the little metal nubbin-spinner-thingie that connects to the lid. You have to bend down and and look under the top of where your pints go to see it, so it’s easy to forget to keep that clean.
Good luck with your Creami, and happy spinning!