The kids and I have been waiting for the blackberries all summer. So has my husband, who’s desperate to cut down all the brambles in the back of the garden, but has been made to wait until we could harvest one last crop of black lovelies… Well the harvest was disappointing, so I took the kids off to happier hunting grounds (the woods) where we filled a bucket and would have kept on going if it weren’t for the nettle stings that were starting to get really painful.
Back home, I went through the list of things I could make with the berries. Crumbles, pancakes, scones and jam were all contenders, but what I really wanted was blackberry ice cream. But not your standard purple blackberry-flavoured ice cream. I wanted more of a ripple effect, vanilla with blackberries running through it. I looked for recipes online and couldn’t find any that looked like what I had in mind. I also didn’t want to put egg in my ice cream because I was looking for something a bit lighter than the usual custard-based concoctions. So I knew from the get-go this was going to be somewhat experimental.
Now, I’ve never made ice cream before. I recently asked for, and gratefully received, an ice cream maker on Freecycle.* It came without instructions, so that might have been the problem, but even though I froze the bowl overnight (like the generic online instructions I found said to do) and even though it did churn when turned on, it didn’t make anything close to ice cream. After a couple of hours, it was still just a slightly chilled version of my cream mix. In other words, a complete waste of time and electricity. So I emptied the mixture into a tupperware container, chucked the machine in the bin and proceeded to make ice cream by hand.
It was easier than I thought it would be. I just put it in the freezer and stirred it every hour or so (wasn’t very precise) until it was thick enough to be left over night. The next afternoon we tucked in and – oh my! It was exactly what I had hoped it would be. The blackberries coloured it more than I had hoped, but it still had a prevailing vanillla flavour. The ice cream was rich and creamy, even without the eggs, and the blackberries provided tart bursts of crunchy (because they’d frozen while still in big chunks) fruitiness. It was delicious, devoured by all and offered me the perfect excuse to go and buy a good ice cream machine now!
(Addendum 22/9/10: 4 batches of ice cream later, I’ve decided this hand method is actually EASIER than an ice cream machine, especially since there’s no aforethought required in the form of pre-freezing mixing bowls etc.. I typically stir it 2 or 3 times before it’s thick as soft serve and can be left alone overnight. I’m also standing by my basic ice cream recipe and adding various ingredients instead of the berries. Next I’m going to experiment with using lowfat cream though…)
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp-ish vanilla extract
3-4 handfuls of fresh, rinsed, blackberries
1. Whip the first 3 ingredients together until light and frothy (a couple of minutes)
2. Add the berries and stir gently.
3. Pour into tupperware container and freeze overnight, stirring hourly for the first few hours (or use ice cream machine)
*Freecycle is a global online movement to give and receive used items for FREE instead of letting them end up in landfill. It’s particularly fantastic for kids’ stuff (think of how much you spent on that Bumbo the baby sat in for all of a month) but also for those kitchen gadgets that crowd your cupboards. It’s also great for your karma – check it out and join your local group! There’s also a newer, more user-friendly version called Ecobees, which has the advantage of being one global website (kind of like a free eBay). It’s just started up though, so doesn’t have as many members (and therefore stuff) on it, but if you join then perhaps we’ll all help it grow!