Berry season is a magical time of year. Whether you head to a pick-your-own place or a farmer’s market, there’s nothing more enticing than a basket of strawberries, still warm from the summer sun. I admit that I rarely manage to return home with a full basket as the urge to nibble is impossible to resist. The only solution is to buy double what I intended, leaving me with enough fruit for jam, salads, smoothies and ice cream (just a few of my favourite uses for perfectly ripe berries). This strawberry ice cream was recently described by a teenaged taste tester as “the best ice cream she’s ever eaten.” I’m inclined to agree. Macerating the fruit (combining it with sugar and lemon and letting it sit for a bit) is part of the secret to this recipe’s awesomeness – this step draws out the juices and ensures the ice cream takes on an all-over strawberry flavour and colour, instead of looking and tasting like vanilla ice cream with bits of strawberry in it.
2 cups sliced very ripe strawberries (make sure you rinse and dry them really well before slicing or you’ll have ice crystals in your ice cream from the water)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1.5 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 egg yolks
6 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup heavy (35%) cream
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or ½ vanilla bean, scraped)
- Put the fruit in a non-reactive bowl and add the 2 tablespoons of sugar and lemon juice; stir to combine.
- Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap (to keep those pesky fruit flies out) and let sit for an hour, stirring once or twice.
- When ready to cook the custard for the ice cream, whisk egg yolks and 6 tablespoons of sugar together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized, heavy saucepan, combine the cream, milk and vanilla bean paste or seeds. Warm over medium heat until it is just starting to steam.
- Slowly add ½ cup of the hot cream mixture to the bowl containing the egg yolks and sugar, whisking constantly. This step warms the yolks so they don’t cook too quickly.
- Return the egg yolks and cream to the saucepan, whisking constantly.
- Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for 4 – 5 minutes until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon.
- Pour custard into a large bowl and cool for one hour in the fridge.
- While custard is cooling, mash the strawberries with the back of a fork. I don’t recommend pureeing them as it will affect the texture of your ice cream.
- Combine the strawberries and custard, stirring well. Continue to refrigerate until it is completely cool, then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
- Alternatively, you can pour the cooled mixture into a very clean metal baking pan and freeze, stirring occasionally to incorporate a little air.
- Store the finished ice cream in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks (as if it would last that long. Hah.)
Makes a scant quart of ice cream.