Friday, June 20, 2008

Home-Made Wild Strawberry Ice Cream

The wild strawberries are ripening. I snatched an hour between tasks, an hour when it wasn't actually raining, to pick some. (As an aside, I'm starting to wonder if we haven't somehow been transplanted to the Pacific Northwest without realising it as we certainly are experiencing their climate this summer!)

Here is my really easy recipe for Wild Strawberry Ice Cream:

1. Don't cut the grass in the back yard for about 5 years, or until the native plant population re-establishes itself. This will include wild roses, daisies, wild asters, goldenrod, lots of clovers and hopefully, wild strawberries.

2. Remind lawn cutting chappie to not cut the back yard each spring. Run out of house in pajamas, yelling, each spring when he forgets.

3. Monitor process of strawberries. A fine crop of blossoms may come to nothing if it's too dry, or too hot (ha! not this spring!). This year we had plenty of rain, but it's been quite cool...fortunately we had a brief week of hot weather at just the right time. I was pleasantly surprised to see how early the berries were ripening.

4. Pick strawberries. Try to resist eating them...they are so tempting, warm from the sun, fragrant and juicy. Okay, just eat a few. Try to ignore the loud complaints and dive bombing of the red-winged blackbirds and the robins, who protest that the berries are absolutely all for them!!! I leave them plenty!

5. For this recipe you need about 2 1/2-3 cups of wild strawberries. They are small, this is a lot of wild strawberries. You can always freeze (or eat) what you don't use. I pick until the medium green bowl is full, very scientific!

6. Get comfortable, it's going to take a while to hull the berries. Discard any really squishy ones, the birds will enjoy them. Wash thoroughly, as they tend to pick up sand and grit, let them drain well.

7. In a blender or food processor, combine 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 tsp good vanilla extract and the juice of half a lemon. Blend it until everything is well combined. Add 2 1/2-3 cups well-drained wild strawberries, and blend again. The mixture turns a wonderful shade of pink (if someone would make glass this color, beadmakers would fight over it!).

8. Let me save you the trouble of making a batch without pureeing the strawberries. Two years ago I thought it might be interesting to leave half of them wasn't, they turn into rock hard little strawberry bullets. Blended is MUCH better!

9. Pour into your ice-cream maker and freeze as directed. Mine is a Cuisineart. You didn't really think I was going to hand churn this, did you?

10. When it's frozen enough to suit you, pour it into a freeze-able container. Admire it for a few minutes. Isn't it pretty?

Cover it tightly and freeze. Wait until your So comes home to eat it, however, anything left in the freezing bowl is fair game. It's delicious. The tiny berries have a tremendous depth of flavour. I'm fairly sure that even the Queen has never had the pleasure of eating wild strawberry ice cream made with berries she picked herself!

Yield: A bowlful. Probably about 4 cups.

Extra Advice: Wild strawberry patches are not terribly hard to find, but when you pick them please be sure that the location has not been sprayed with chemicals or pesticides. I no longer pick from roadsides for this reason.

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