|Don't be hatin' on legit strawberry ice cream - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
It wasn't until family was visiting last spring and we were starting to get some fresh strawberries in the market that I decided to do a Liz Lemon "Shut it Down!" intervention and really tackle the strawberry ice cream feud. I knew good berry ice cream was possible -- I've been happily enjoying all the different berry flavors from locally produced ice creameries since moving to the Pacific Northwest many years ago. This region, which has an abundance of fresh berries every season, has influenced a change of heart in my ice cream selections. When given the choice of good,quality ice cream, I often choose a fruit flavor (everything except strawberry) over some chocolate-caramel-fudge monstrosity that's likely more sugar than actual flavor. So given that current standing, there's no reason why I shouldn't stop this Spy vs Spy feud between myself and strawberry ice cream.
|The most important ingredient -- REAL STRAWBERRIES. And a squid whisk. - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
Maybe that's the lesson to be gleaned from this odd retreat into the Wasabi Childhood -- we're conditioned as a kid to just eat what we want, when we want it, and sometimes the result isn't so tasty, since it was probably pumped full of preservatives. Patience is most certainly a virtue, and even if we can only enjoy certain things at limited times of the year, at the height of their freshness, we'll just learn to appreciate and value them more.
Real Strawberry Ice Cream
* You’ll need an ice cream maker for this, no way around it
BASIC VANILLA ICE CREAM:
3 cups of half and half or whole milk
4 large eggs at room temperature, not chilled
½ cup of sugar
1 vanilla bean or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
4 cups fresh strawberries (about 1 small container), green tops removed and halved
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
To make the basic batter that makes the ice cream, heat a medium sized pot over a stove burner set to medium. Add sugar and half and half/milk and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved. If you are using a whole vanilla bean, slice in half, scrape seeds into the sugar and milk mixture and place empty bean pod in, just to further flavor the liquid. Stir this mixture over the heat until it just starts to lightly bubble before lowering the heat down to medium low.
Crack the eggs into a separate bowl and lightly whisk. Add a little of the heated milk and sugar liquid, about a tablespoon or two, into the eggs and whisk. This process will temper the eggs, gently bringing them to the temperature of the milk and sugar to help ensure they won’t scramble when they’re added in. With the whisk ready, slowly drizzle the tempered eggs into the milk and sugar, whisking constantly to quickly incorporate the eggs. Continue to whisk until the eggs are fully incorporated. The finished batter should be slightly thickened and for health safety, it should be at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure the eggs have been cooked to a safe temperature.
Once the mixture is to a safe temperature, take it off the heat and set aside to cool for a few minutes before straining out any little chunky egg bits and the vanilla bean pod. The strained batter can go into a bowl, wrapped with plastic wrap, and set into the refrigerator to chill overnight.
To make the strawberry flavoring, take your food processor or blender and place halved strawberries inside to blend into a puree. Pour this puree into a saucepan and heat over medium on the stove. Add in the sugar and let it dissolve, and continue to stir for another 15 minutes until the puree is reduced and thickened to the consistency of a loose jam. This will intensify the strawberry flavor. When it’s reduced, take it off the heat and add the lemon juice – this will help keep the color looking more fresh while it cools overnight in the fridge.
Both the custard and berry puree should be fully cooled before being placed in your ice cream maker. When churning the ice cream, follow your ice cream maker’s instructions and churn the vanilla batter first, until it’s to an almost soft-serve consistency, and then add in the strawberry puree, which will gently combine the two and you'll get a slight swirl texture of colors that's just nice to look at. Enjoy!