Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Raspberry Ice Cream... and a Freezer Jam

One of the greatest things about summertime in Oregon... other than actually seeing the sun... on roughly consecutive days... for relatively constant weeks... for a good little period of time... is the abundance of berries.

While our cool springs may tax our patience, it is this very climate, along with our warm summers (when they finally arrive), that allow our beautiful berries to mature slowly and develop their sweet, succulent flavor. (I hope this maturation process holds true for people living in this climate as well...)

While berries may be waning in other parts of the country, we are ripe with selection from local markets, farmers markets, u-pick stands, and roadside set ups. In fact, the blackberry bushes are so prolific through my own neighborhood in the heat of summer, that berry picking is virtually free-for-the-picking. I have, however, largely left the picking to the experts over the years and happily purchased from local farms through various markets and stands.

When a friend suggested that we run out to a local raspberry farm to gather our own berries one morning last week, I figured it would just be a fun outing and I'd come home with a couple of pints. What I didn't expect was that I would become so enthralled with the pursuit. Once we discovered a thicket of bushes that were literally dripping with red, ripe fruit, my thoughts for just a few pints quickly dissolved into a distant memory. Before I knew it I had filled the two buckets I'd lugged out into the fields and ended up carting home eight-plus pounds of berries.

I then spent the next four hours rinsing berries, drying berries, freezing berries, making berry jam... and making berry ice cream.

 It was a great summer's day! Not really a whole lot of sun... but certainly a whole lot of berries!

Raspberry Ice Cream
adapted roughly from David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop
makes approximately 1 quart

This recipe is roughly adapted from a few recipes, but most notably from David Lebovitz's Raspberry Ice Cream from The Perfect Scoop. I didn't have half and half, so I used equal parts heavy whipping cream and whole milk. I also used a bit more of the strained raspberry purée, just a bit more lemon juice, no raspberry extract, and just a touch of almond extract. It's a smooth, creamy, very berry ice cream. I'm thinking the balance of what I have left will make its way between mini chocolate chip cookies to make great two-bite ice cream sandwiches.

1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
1.5 cups whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar (plus more for purée, if necessary... this batch didn't require any)
4 large egg yolks, lightly whisked
2 cups strained raspberry purée*
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm whipping cream, milk and sugar, stirring until sugar is fully dissolved. Lower heat. Slowly pour a 1/4 cup of the warm milk mixture into whisked eggs, stirring constantly, to temper eggs. Then slowly pour eggs into milk mixture set again over medium heat, continue cooking until mixture reaches 170 degrees... or coats the back of a spoon... stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour mixture through a strainer (to catch any residual cooked egg/film). Add raspberry purée, lemon juice and almond extract.

Place some plastic wrap over mixture (to avoid building a film) and chill for a bit over an ice bath... then place in fridge to cool completely (2 to 4 hours, or overnight... the colder your cream is, the better, when setting it to churn). Then follow your ice cream maker's directions for churning. Serve immediate for a soft serve option... or freeze for a traditional ice cream offering.

* To make approximately 2 cups raspberry purée, process approximately 4 to 6 cups fresh raspberries in a food processor and strain to remove seeds (it will take a bit of movement to separate seeds from juice... running a spoon through processed berries helps work them through the strainer). Once you have 2 cups strained purée, check for sweetness and add additional sugar (approximately 2 tablespoons), if necessary.

Raspberry Freezer Jam
makes approximately 10 to 12 ounces

Freezer jam is a great, quick way to jar a bit of jam without a whole lot of effort... or mess. There are scores of little adjustments you can make with a basic freezer jam, but essentially it's berries, sugar and lemon juice. Pretty simple. I happen to like a sweet jam... though not super sweet. And I like a hint of tang... though nothing too sour or too tart. So... simply said... taste your brew and adjust accordingly. A little squeeze of lemon juice adds that perfect little pop of tartness... adjusted, along with your addition of sugar... by just how sweet your berries are.

4 cups raspberries
3 cups granulated sugar (less if berries are very sweet)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat fruit and sugar to a boil, stirring frequently, then continue cooking and stirring for approximately 10 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat, add lemon and refrigerate overnight to firm up. Transfer to freezer safe containers and freeze. Transfer container by container to fridge to use... will keep up to 3 weeks in fridge.

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