July 02, 2010

(Almost) No Cook Bluberry Ice Cream

I have a love hate relationship with most blueberry ice cream.  Blueberry is one of the most versatile fruits, and I simply adore it, and can never have enough.  It goes with savory dishes (have you tried blueberry ketchup?), and it goes well with tart flavours, like lemon and lime.  It is equally at home with cream as with herbs (basil or mint are best, though I love it with tarragon too!). 

I've had two absolutely phenomenal blueberry ice creams before.  One was from a coffee shop/used-bookstore/ice cream parlor in Fredrick MD.  It was white chocolate ice cream with a ribbon is pureed blueberries mixed in, and it was the best ice cream I've ever had.  At Dolcezza, here in Washington, you can find a sublime Blueberry Mint--but I don't know if it is sorbet or gelato, because the fruit was so strong and forward, but it was also smooth and creamy.  Anyway, it was amazing.  But then I've had some really really bad blueberry ice creams that had no flavor (most recently at Peri Peri). 

So I decided to try my hand at it.  And I really didn't want to slave over the stove cooking a custard.  It's summertime.  We don't want to waste time in a hot kitchen, but why should we sacrifice the joys of AWESOME ICE CREAM? 

But the thing is: it's summertime.  The fruit is so good and so fresh that it doesn't need eggs or a cooked custard, or even lots of sugar to make an amazing ice cream.  Here's how I make my almost no-cook blueberry ice cream:

5 cups blueberries
scant 2 cups sugar
1/4 cup red wine, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, or water  (I like the acidity.  For a purer taste, use water)
3-4 cups heavy cream  (depending on how creamy/fruit you want it)

Put the blueberries and sugar in a stockpot, and mash with a potato masher or fork.  (Or, puree till chunky, and then mix with the sugar) add liquid (I used wine this time), and bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring and mashing as you go.

Strain through a sieve.  I would recommend a very fine sieve. Do this in batches, pouring into the sieve, and  push using a spoon or spatula the fruit through the sieve, till a dry lump of skins is all that is left (skip this step if you pureed the fruit to a smooth puree).  Most recipes will tell you to just "strain through a sieve", but blueberry is rich in pectin, and the skins aren't bitter, so I like to push as much of that wonderful fruit through the sieve as possible, so that we can have a rich luxurious base for the ice cream.

Now, mix the berry mixture into the cream, while it is still warm.  Whisk the milk and pour the blueberries in a steady stream, till everything is incorporated (you can't really over-mix this).  Chill thoroughly (overnight is best).  Process in the ice cream maker according to your machines instructions.  You can serve right away, it should be about the consistency of soft serve ice cream, or chill to harden.

I wish I had photos, but I forgot to take any.  When I serve it tonight, I'll take a few and post them later.

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