Blackberry and Port Ice Cream

Most of the blackberries in my life have been destined either for a crumble or for jam. Last time we went out picking blackberries, there was a great crop, so we got both a large crumble and a large pot of jam out of them. So when we went out to pick some more- blackberries are free food after all- I wanted to be a bit more creative with what we made out of them. We didn’t get so many this time, just what we needed; there are still plenty of blackberries out there to pick. Collecting some blackberries, and cooking with them, makes for a great evening or weekend activity.

In the UK, blackberries are usually in season from late August to early November, but they seemed to be in early this year, perhaps due to the fact we seem to have skipped summer. I used to pick loads of blackberries as a kid- we would take tubs out to hedgerows and collect several kilos- then make crumble, jam, or just freeze our spoils. Perhaps the reason why even kids can pick them, blackberries are probably the easiest wild fruit to identify and pick. They’ll occur on many hedgerows on bramble-y plants, and the fruit turns black when ripe. The ones you want to pick are the ones that come off the plant easily- if they don’t, they are probably not ripe. Similarly, don’t pick the ones below knee-height, as dogs may have ..er.. spoiled the fruit for you.

You can make ice cream without an ice cream maker, but it is tricky. The keep to making a good ice cream is to get small water crystals forming, as this creates the smooth texture you want. Ice cream makers work by churning the ice cream as the cream mixture is freezing, to stop large water crystals forming, and to create this churning effect by hand requires a lot of patience- you put the cream in a tub in the freezer, then every ten minutes, give it a good stir with a fork, then put it back. I’ve had ice cream made this way, and the texture has been fine, but the effort that goes into it is considerable. I use this Cuisinart ice cream maker, which I got for Christmas a couple of years ago, and I’ve been very pleased with it. It requires pre-freezing a bowl, typical among the cheaper ice cream makers- so make sure you get a large bowl that can cool down your cream quickly. The bowl with this machine is quite large, make sure your freezer can fit it inside. Ice creams are very easy to make, and can add a lot to a pudding for little effort.

This ice cream is a variation on a fig and port ice cream I made a while ago- as blackberries and figs grow around the same time of year, the blackberry and port combination should work well too. In general, you have to be very wary when adding alcohol to ice cream mixtures, as it will lower the freezing point of your mixture, and so you may not get ice cream anymore, but very cold cream. Assuming you have added some sugar as well, you can have around 15-20% concentration by weight of alcohol before your ice cream won’t freeze in a domestic freezer anymore (result taken from The Kitchen As Laboratory). This might seem like a lot, and it is, but the problem often comes in getting your ice cream maker to get that cold for the initial freezing. However, here, we don’t need to worry about this: the alcohol is boiled off when stewing the blackberries in the port. So if you like the port taste, like I do, then feel free to be a bit liberal with the quantity.

Blackberry and Port Ice Cream

Ingredients:
400g blackberries
100ml port (I used a Ruby port, as it is cheap)
500ml double cream
500ml milk
80g caster sugar
20g liquid glucose

Recipe:
1. Purée the blackberries. Put the blackberries in a frying pan with the port. Stew over a medium heat until the blackberries are soft and mushy. At this point you can purée with blackberries with a hand blender, and strain them, but personally I quite like the rustic rough texture without puréeing them.
2. Make the ice cream. Add the purée to the milk, cream, caster sugar, and liquid glucose, and leave in the fridge overnight. Then make into ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Cajeta and Cinnamon Ice Cream « oxfood
  2. Trackback: Wild Mushroom Picking in Denmark and Oxford « oxfood

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