The first time I had lychees I was blown away. Maybe first I had them in bubble tea. I don’t think I even knew what the real fruit looked like. Then I started noticing cans of them at Asian grocery stores and markets. The white fruit soaked in syrup was revolutionary. How many other fruits did I not know about?
Finally, I found a store that sold fresh lychees. I’d seen them before but the name of the fruit had never been written in English, so I’d had no idea what they were and had never wanted to bother the staff enough to ask the names of handfuls of exotic fruit. They probably wouldn’t even know the English names, and they were busy. Excuses, excuses. When I did buy them I didn’t know how long they had to ripen, so my first peeled fruit were often under-ripe and disappointing. Of my first bag of purchased lychees I probably enjoyed about two of them. It’s also hard to get them at all, and so now I reserve my lychee tasting to lychee liqueur, juices, or specials at restaurants.
Until this recipe. I just had to, and it was worth it.
2 cans of lychees, drained and juice reserved
3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste (or agave nectar – see Tip B)
1 cup plain yogurt (regular or soy)
1. Blend the lychees, sugar and yogurt in a blender or food processor and pour into ice cube trays or a resealable plastic freezer bag. Place the trays or the bag flat in the freezer. If you use a bag instead of ice cream trays remove as much air from the bag as possible before sealing it, and flatten the bag to spread out the lychee mixture before laying it flat in the freezer.
2. Let the lychee mixture harden. This depends on your freezer, but usually takes at least 6 hours. Then break up the frozen pieces and pour them back into the blender or food processor. Process again until smooth (see Tip G) and then pour into your ice cream container of choice (plastic yogurt container or freezer-safe tupperware. No glass) to stick back into the freezer to refreeze.
3. Let the frozen yogurt harden for at least 2 more hours, and then scoop or scrape into a dish or a cone to serve.
Tips and Variations on a Theme:
A. You can use any yogurt for this recipe, but depending on the brand it’s probably better to use one that isn’t fat-free. The higher fat versions will be creamier and naturally sweeter, so you won’t need as much sugar.
B. You can replace the sugar with a mild honey or agave nectar. Or another sugar substitute like stevia, xylitol, or beet sugar.
Banana Frozen Yogurt
C. You can use other kinds of pureed fruit, like raspberries or bananas (this one kind of ends up tasting like banana kids medicine. Some people love it) and adjust the sugar level to your tastes. If you don’t want the skin of the substitute fruit to wreck the smooth texture of the frozen yogurt, put it through a sieve after pureeing, or peel the fruit before processing.
D. You can add cocoa powder and make this chocolatey…or vanilla extract to make a traditional vanilla frozen yogurt.
E. You can add rum or other liqueurs, just make sure the alcohol works with the fruit (rum and bananas or oranges, melon liqueur and honeydew melons, lychee liqueur for the lychees)
F. The frozen yogurt might be hard to scrape when it’s fully frozen, so you can let it warm up a bit on the counter before scraping, like any grocery store ice cream.
G. You might need to scrape down the sides of your blender or food processor to get the mixture to process fully at first or break up and re-process in Step 2. To do this, make sure the food processor is OFF before sticking a utensil down into it. I’ve broken wooden spoons and torn rubber spatulae that way. Please, please, please don’t try it with metal.
H. The sorbet is really good served with something crunchy, like a cookie or cookie bits or something chewy like a brownie, but you can also try a frozen grape. It’ll be a lot chewier than a regular grape. Just remove a bunch of grapes from the stem and stick them in a covered container in the freezer overnight (or at least a few hours). The freezing concentrates the sugar in the fruit, kind of the same way ice wine is made from grapes left on the vine in the cold.
I. For the leftover lychee juice, you can drink it as is, or use some in a smoothie, a dessert sauce (it’s amazing with butter or Soyfree Earth Balance or Becel vegan), or in a marinade for fish. I even get away with replacing mirin with it in Japanese recipes because it’s so sweet. A final option is to make fruit juice jello.
This kind of turned into the ABC’s of frozen yogurt…hopefully it’s enough info to get you through the summer. If you’ve got questions or problems or have great frozen yogurt success, leave a comment below!