It’s Ivan calling. We’re going over there for dinner in about 2 hours.
“Hey, dude, I’m at the store and I was wondering if you want to bring over your ice cream maker tonight… you know, since I didn’t get any when you made it this weekend.”
I think about it. I love ice cream. I love making ice cream. It usually takes about half an hour to find a recipe, cook up a custard, strain it… then another couple of hours for it to cool down enough to freeze. It’s now 4:00 and I’m trying to clean up some data that has been bugging me for a while.
“Sure, what the hell.”
“Ok, what do we need?” What do we need? Beats the fuck out of me. I hear cash registers, so he’s in the check-out line.
“Um, grab some cream. The heavy stuff.”
“Good thinking. How much? What flavor are we making?” We’re really winging it this time… He ends up getting a quart of cream and we talk about berries. The blueberries look good, but we’re both worried that they are not juicy enough to make a good ice cream. Strawberries it is. He finishes shopping and I go back to my spreadsheet, but it sucks, so I hit google.
I find a bunch of crappy recipes. I mean, 5 stars for 14 ounces of condensed milk and a pound of strawberries? That sounds gnarly. She boasts that the strawberries are so sweet that she doesn’t need to add sugar… um, no shit. Winnie the Pooh eats sweetened condensed milk when he’s out of honey.
Then I hit on a good one.
This looks awesome. Except that you have to roast the berries for 30-45 minutes and then let them cool. We don’t have that much time, but I forward it to Ivan anyway… maybe he can improvise. The balsalmic vinegar sounds like an amazing addition; maybe Ivan can do something with that. I call him back and tell him to mash up the berries with a cup of sugar and add a dash of salt. I hang up.
Oh shit, salt. I call back. “Hey, dude, pick up some rock salt. I think we might need some.” Yes, we need some. For my last ice cream adventure I ran into Ace hardware looking for some rock salt, which they had, right next to the Rival ice cream maker. I grabed it and skedadled. Only when I got to the camp site where we were making it did I notice “Not for human consumption.” Fine, but why? Is the driveway salt really that much cheaper than the regular stuff? Last I checked, Morton’s was pretty cheap, and I think Rival got $5 for this little bag. Bastards. The salt is greenish gray and looks like they stole it from a street salting truck. The kids are running around asking to eat the salt like they always do. I want to load the salt into a 12-gauge and pepper the backside of the dick who thought it was a good idea to save some money selling this for making ice cream. But I digress. Ivan gets out of the checkout line to buy some salt.
I hork two coolers full of ice from the machine at work, go pick up the kids and we head over. I also grab a lemon. Every recipe I saw mixed some lemon juice with the berries.
We get to Ivan’s house, grab a beer and check out the pizza he’s making. The kids go off to have fun jumping off the playhouse roof (well, Tessa chips a tooth, so not all fun). It’s Brendan’s birthday. Good thing we’re making ice cream.
I check the progress so far. Ivan’s boiled 2 cartons of berries with the sugar and added some salt. Then he tossed in 1 1/2 tsp. of a balsalmic vinegar reduction he made. It’s a 2/3 reduction, and tastes freakin’ great. The strawberry mix is fantastic. This is going to be good. We add some lemon juice and it’s even better.
I dump in the 2 pints of cream, then rinse the cartons with a little milk to get out the chunks of fat. I just dump it into the churn, so I give it a bit of a stir to mix it in. Then I toss it into the bucket. Fortunately, this time, it’s been used recently, so the wood isn’t all dried out. Most of the time when I bust out the ice cream churn, I forget to season the bucket and the water drains out for about the first half hour while I swear at it wondering why it’s not freezing. just to be safe, I fill the bucket with water as soon as I get there.
In with the ice and salt… 3 inches of ice, 1/2 inch of salt and so on all the way upt to the top. Stick the hose in to get the ice melting a little bit and set a young’un to churning.
Grandpa comes over to help churn… the crank is getting harder to turn. “What’s in this?” he asks. Ivan and I start naming stuff… Strawberries. Cream. Sugar. Um… “Did you put any Vanilla in?” Ivan asks… the ice cream’s almost hard. Ivan runs for the vanilla. “How much of this stuff do we want?” he inquires. I suggest a tablespoon. He adds 3 capfulls. Whatever. Eliza asks for a sip… Ivan looks at the label. “38% alcohol?” I shrug… “No, honey.”
The churning is almost done… the kids come back now that the real work is starting. I scrape the dasher into the churn and set them to work at licking the remnants. Then I pack more ice into the tub and set it to harden while we finish eating pizza. This is a tactical error, since I neglected to add more salt. Now the tub is maybe warmer than the ice cream. Next time, I’m bringing a thermocouple. And maybe a salinometer. Come to think of it, I should just always have a thermocouple in the bucket so I know if I need more ice or salt… duh.
Happy Birthday Brendan! The strawberry ice cream is the perfect accoutrement to the cake. Um, sort of. Mom bought a mint-chip ice cream cake. Both are awesome, though not necessarily together. I eat them separately. Brendan eats seconds of both and it’s his birthday, so the evening is a total success.
Recipe (makes about 1/2 gallon… for smaller ice cream makers, scale it)
1 lb (2 pint cartons) super-ripe strawberries
1 cup sugar
1.5 tsp balsalmic vinegar reduction – ask Ivan for the recipe (or 4 tsp balsalmic vinegar).
juice from 1/2 lemon
4 cup heavy cream
1/2 – 3 cup milk
3 capfull vanilla extract (the big, Costco capful… maybe 1.5 Tbls total)
Ice cream churn
Trim strawberries and bring to simmer in a saucepan with the sugar, vinegar, and lemon. Mash with fork or puree if desired. Stick into the fridge or freezer to cool.
When ready to churn, add cream, and rinse cartons with as much milk as you feel necessary. More makes the ice cream firmer, and icier, less makes it creamier. Add vanilla.
Put in churn and add ice and salt. Crank for 30 minutes. Remove dasher and celebrate how good it is. Then put in freezer or back in bucket with more ice to harden.