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What Made Me Red-faced: Strawberry Ice Cream

Attractive Strawberries, Unlike Mine

I am totally embarrassed. I should have known better. I do know better.

Yet there I was last week, making strawberry ice cream in the middle of winter. (We’ll ignore the foolishness of continuing to make any kind of ice cream long after the end of summer.)

Call me stupid. Call me obsessive. Call me obsessively stupid. (Then you can ease off. I get your point.)

The stupid part of me didn’t even think about strawberries being out of season. I just circled the walk-in refrigerator at Costco and came out with a carton full of “fresh” strawberries. I knew those weren’t going to be terrific. I could see that the deep rich red of the best strawberries was nowhere to be seen in that carton.

These were simply “red enough.”

The terminology here comes from my wife who envisions a home repair show that doesn’t obsess with perfectly mitered molding or line-straight divisions between walls and ceilings where two colors of paint meet. She calls her hypothetical program “Good Enough,” because it emphasizes comfort and welcome over the compulsive perfection apparent in “Pottery Barn” and “Restoration Hardware” homes.

That this concept conveniently aligns with the exhaustion of middle-aged parents with too much going on is merely a coincidence, albeit a happy one.

But the fact of the matter is we are a bit overbooked, same as we are every January/February. We bite off more than we can chew, and although the quality of our work doesn’t diminish (Nope, not at all), the quality of our sleep definitely suffers.

So this blog is coming to you from the bottom of the well. If that sounds like I’ve thrown in the towel on this old blog, I’m sorry. Sometimes the ideas for fresh and creative ice cream do not come fast and furiously. Sometimes you’ve got to rely on old standbys.

Like strawberry.

So that first flavor of spring, that lone fruity partner in the classic Neapoliton triumvirate (vanilla and chocolate being the other two), that perfect partner with cheesecake, finally made its way to the top of my list. It was simply a recipe I hadn’t made yet and I wanted to cross it off my list.

Alas, crossing strawberries off of one’s list in late January is at least three months earlier than the ideal time, which makes this a few months shy of  being the strawberry ice cream I’d like to have made.

Not to say I got any negative feedback from the family. They ate the ice cream without complaint. They also ate it without any real enthusiasm.

The ice cream was good, well, good enough. It just wasn’t great.

For that I would like to blame the strawberries or the season or the tornado of events that come upon my wife and I this time every year.

But I have no one to blame but myself. Come spring, things will be different.

Strawberry Ice Cream
(about 1½ quarts)
1 ½ cup milk
¾ cup sugar
2 T flour
A few grains salt
2 eggs or 3 yolks (pasteurized, if possible, see note)
1 ½ cup cream
1 pound strawberries, tops cut off
¼ t almond extract

  1. Heat milk to 180-190ºF with sugar, flour and salt, stirring until thick, cover for 10 minutes.
  2. Beat eggs and add ½ cup of mixture while beating, then add eggs to mixture.
    HEALTH NOTE:     Since you’re dealing with eggs here, you need to take care when cooking the custard. Too much cooking and the custard gets lumpy, too little and you risk salmonella.  Another alternative is to use pasteurized eggs.
  3. Heat the mixture for one minute over medium heat, then cool with plastic wrap or wax paper pressed onto the top of the mixture to keep it from developing a skin. Cool for several hours or overnight.
  4. Place the strawberries and almond extract in the custard base and puree the whole mixture with an immersion blender.
  5. Freeze in an ice cream freezer for about 35 minutes.
  6. Put the now frozen ice cream into the freezer for a couple of hours to give it a chance to firm up.

NOTE:     When freezing ice cream, you need to use an ice cream freezer to ensure that a certain amount of air is mixed into the frozen cream. This gives it a lighter, less icy consistency. When freezing sorbet, you may also freeze it in a popsicle mold, a bowl or on a sheet pan. Be sure to stir the mixture occasionally to limit the size of the ice particles. Larger chunks of ice make for granita, miniscule chunks make for a nice smooth sorbet (an ice cream freezer is ideal).

Photo Credit: “Clip Art Strawberries” that are much better looking from the ones I used.

 This is not the first time I’ve struggled with the seasonality of ingredients. From time to time I let my enthusiasm cloud my judgement and buy fresh out of season. Other times, I get by with dried, frozen or reconstituted product. I would love to be able to say that I always follow Alice Waters’ rule to buy in season, but I don’t. What do you do? Let me know in a comment.



1 Comment to “What Made Me Red-faced: Strawberry Ice Cream”

  1. My Wife says:

    This blog is good enough for me.

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