Long winter, rainy spring, and that crap is all behind me now. Temps are looking warm and cozy for the next week, and the laundry is back on the line. I’m only looking forward, and what is in front of me? Strawberry season! Our plants are flowering and there are a few little green berries poking out and trying their hardest to give us hope. It is time to make homemade strawberry ice cream!
Both my mom and mother-in-law were summertime berry pickers. My mom and her sister picked to earn money to buy fabric that my grandma would turn in to school clothes. My mother-in-law’s earnings went to buy fabric for her mom to sew clothes, and then two store-bought outfits. My mother-in-law picked outside of Portland OR, and told me that on Sundays the city pools had free admission to anyone with berry stained hands. They knew the youth berry pickers were the broke kids, and an afternoon of swimming was a great way to relax after toiling in the fields all week.
What does one do when you have eaten as many fresh strawberries as you can handle? When your hands are so pink that it is liking a walking badge of berry gluttony. Why, you make strawberry ice cream of course. And you look at yourself in the mirror and say “sack up. Strawberry season is short. There is no such thing as too many fresh berries”!
Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream
A luscious bowl full of early summer goodness. This recipe will improve greatly if allowed to cool in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 egg yolks Let the eggs sit at room temp for 30-60 minutes before cracking
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups strawberries, tops removed, sliced, and divided
- 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp sugar, divided
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine the heavy cream, milk, kosher salt, almond and vanilla extracts, and 2 tbsp of sugar. Do not let it boil. Remove from heat.
Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl, and whisk well with a fork.
Chop 1/3 cup of the strawberries in to bite-sized pieces. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, combine the rest of the strawberries, plus 1/4 cup of sugar, and puree until smooth. Add the diced strawberries in to the pureed mixture. Transfer to the fridge.
Using a 1/3 measuring cup, add some of the hot milk/cream mixture to the egg yolks, and whisk while you combine. Add another 1/3 cup - mix. Then a final 1/3 cup - mix. Whisk the egg mixture in to the rest of the milk, and return the pan to the stove. Cook on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat, and pour the mixture in to a heatproof bowl fitted with a sieve/fine mesh strainer. Transfer to the fridge for at 12 hours (preferably) or until completely cooled.
Just prior to adding to your ice cream maker, add the strawberries to the milk mixture and stir to combine.
Add the ice cream base to your ice cream maker of choice, churning until it has reached your preferred level of "doneness". Transfer to an air-tighter container, pressing a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the ice cream, ensuring it makes contact with the ice cream. Freeze, and enjoy at your leisure.*
*Everyone knows you're going to eat it on the floor of your kitchen. No one is judging.
I am not someone known for my patience. I have screamed at microwaves before for taking too long. But I promise you with everything in my heart, if you give this recipe 12 hours to sit in your fridge, it will pay dividends. Allowing the strawberries to macerate in their own juices and combine with the sugar, will result in something magical. Also, by spending that time letting the flavors develop, you get away with using so much less sugar than is called for in normal ice cream recipes. With the absence of all that sugar filler, the strawberry flavor is intense, bright, and summery.
For this recipe, I used my Kitchen Aid ice cream bowl that was given to me by a friend many years ago. Halfway through the churn, it made a crazy noise and stopped working. It’s been out of rotation and stored in my deep freeze for months, so fingers crossed after a good deicing, it is back up to fighting form. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, mix the base with the strawberries and transfer to a container that is a bit larger than you think you need. Every hour or so, you’ll want to stir it to prevent it from becoming hard around the edges. TWSS.
If you find yourself with too many berries this summer (a happy accident), I would strongly recommend lining a rimmed baking sheet with parchment, and freezing them overnight. Remove from parchment, and store in a freezer-proof Ziploc. There are few moments in life that make you more grateful for thinking ahead, then opening the freezer in February and having the ability to make fresh strawberry ice cream. When there is one more night of root vegetables and casseroles to choke down, who will be the unlikely hero that brings a bowl full of summertime goodness to the table? You, that’s who.