1poundstrawberriescleaned and hulled (fresh or frozen)
1vanilla beansplit and scraped
2cupsfresh strawberriescleaned, hulled, and chopped into bite-sized pieces
Put 1 pound of strawberries in the blender jar and add ¼ cup of sugar and the lemon juice. Allow to rest for 30 minutes to draw out some of the juices, then blend until you have a puree. Set aside.
Put the split vanilla bean and its seeds in the saucepan, then add the milk and ¼ cup (50 g) of the sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the thermometer registers 170° F/77° C. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to steep for 30 minutes.
Remove the vanilla bean pod and return the pot to the burner. Warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, until the thermometer registers 170° F/77° C.
In the other 3-quart bowl, whisk the egg yolks with ¼ cup (50 g) sugar until the mixture is foamy and slightly thickened.
Temper the egg yolks by adding about half of the hot milk mixture one ladle at a time, whisking continuously. Whisk the tempered egg mixture into the saucepan and return to the burner. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula until the thermometer registers 185° F/85° C. Do not allow the mixture to boil or cook any longer than necessary. Remove from heat and insert the immersion blender into the hot liquid. Blend until smooth. (Note: You can also use a whisk and vigorously whip the mixture, or use a blender.)
Make an ice bath in the large bowl and set a 3-quart bowl with the heavy cream on top. Place a fine-mesh strainer on the rim of the bowl and carefully pour the custard through the strainer. Stir the custard about every 5 minutes until the mixture is cooled, about 30 minutes. Remove the bowl from the ice bath, dry the bottom, and stir in the pureed strawberries. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.
About 30 minutes before churning, set the gelato mixture in the freezer to get the mixture as cold as possible without starting to freeze. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions for processing. During the final 2 minutes of churning, drop the chopped strawberries in, ¼ cup at a time and allow to churn for 1 more minute after the last strawberries go in.
Transfer the churned gelato to the plastic container. Press a layer of plastic wrap against the gelato and seal the lid on top. Freeze until fully hardened, at least 2 hours, but 4 hours or more is better. To serve, allow the gelato to soften slightly on the counter for about 2 to 3 minutes before scooping.