The Soup Blog
Recipes, Culinary Insights & Humor Spooned Up Fresh Every Week…………………(Now in its Ice Cream Phase)
The Country of Our Father: Blackberry Spice Ice Cream

Fresh Picked

In my office, I have a picture of the male side of my family, pre- next generation.

It features my dad, my grandfather, my brothers and me. My brothers and I were in college at the time so we all look pretty goofy. My dad and grandfather, on the other hand, are both nicely dressed with big smiles on their faces.

It’s one of my favorite pictures.

What I find particularly striking about it is that although my dad’s got a sports coat on and had spent most of his life in an office or lab as a physicist, his hands are those of a farmer.

Which is kind of how he started out.

My grandfather earned a living as an orange rancher in Orange County, California. Back when there were more oranges and not so many OC-based dramas. When my dad was younger, he helped out with the work both around the house and out in the yard alongside his brother and their parents.

As the boys grew up, they both participated in 4H and raised prize pigs for the fair in the time between schoolwork and chores. My grandfather really valued education, so both boys went on to earn PhDs, one in physics and one in entomology, but neither of them lost touch with the training they got from the land.

Even after the kids were born, my dad (and mom) continued to work the soil. Of course, we had orange trees, a lemon and a lime, plum, peach, pomegranate, fig, even an avocado tree. The birds and squirrels would get a lot of each harvest, but dad taught us to just cut out the bad part and keep the rest—not something my own kids quite grasp yet.

Tomatoes were also a big crop of ours during the summer, although there was a constant battle with horn worms.

Berries were another.

We grew strawberries, raspberries and blackberries at one point or another through my childhood. Because the strawberries grew so close to the ground and the plants weren’t all that big, they didn’t produce a lot, but the raspberry and blackberry bushes got very large and we got some pretty nice yields out of them.

I remember sometimes going to pick berries in the mornings before school. Not some rustic trip across hill and dale or anything like that, just a walk down the bank or around the side of the garage. Even so, it usually got me a pint-sized boxful of berries which made my cereal that much better.

It’s not exactly a genesis story of the ice cream of the week. But it’s a source of inspiration for me nonetheless.

The desire to make something exotic out of the berries somehow got hold of me this week and the result was pretty good, but not one of my personal favorites. My brother-in-law, the gardening ophthalmologist liked it a lot, though, so that counts for something.

This week’s ice cream features blackberries, not, alas, from our garden but from the store. We may get around to planting something next year, but it’s the middle of the winter here in Illinois. And mild as it’s been, the likelihood of homegrown berries this time of year is very small.

It’s different in California.


Blackberry Spice 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 lb fresh blackberries|
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp vanilla

  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. To make the ice cream, blend the custard with the berries, spices, lemon juice and vanilla. (I took it a step further by pureeing the whole mixture with an immersion blender.) Next you freeze the whole purple mess in an ice cream freezer for about 35 minutes.
  5. Afterwards, 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: “Blackberry Pints” humbly extracted from a Google search.  

Since I’m all of out of ideas, now is the time for me to start getting a little creative with the ice cream recipes. Yes, there are plenty of more fruits and flavors I can work with, but I am a bit bored with all of that. Hence the impasse. Look for something new and exciting next week. And, if you have any ideas you’d like me to try, please let me know in a comment.

1 Comment to “The Country of Our Father: Blackberry Spice Ice Cream”

  1. Mom says:

    With that introduction and my new Kitchen Aid ice cream maker (and the fact that I have 1# of blackberries in the fridge) this is going to be my 1st ice cream of 2012. Needless to say, Dad and I loved that intro.