Strawberries are at their very best for only a few weeks each year. You can find great strawberries on either end of the growing season, from a patch that hit their stride early or from some that blossomed later than usual, but the ones that are really worth eating are those that you get during the height of the season. I freeze some strawberries for use during the off-season, but I think an even better way to enjoy strawberries into the fall and winter is to make a couple of batches of Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream and stock your freezer with them.
This strawberry ice cream is a very simple recipe, made with lots of fresh strawberries and a egg-enriched custard base that produces a very creamy finished product. To make it, the fresh berries are pureed with sugar, then added to the custard base. It may seem as though their is quite a lot of sugar in this ice cream, especially considering that you are using already sweet berries to start with, but there are two very good reasons for this. First, the sugar helps keep the ice cream creamy and soft, much smoother than it would be with less sugar. Second, when foods are cold their flavors are more muted, so adding a little extra sugar to the ice cream base helps the strawberries to stand out after the ice cream is churned.
Instead of infusing the milk mixture with a vanilla bean when making the custard for this ice cream, I opted to use vanilla extract. I only wanted a little bit of vanilla flavor in my ice cream and didn’t want anything to compete with the flavor of the strawberries. The result is a sweet and very creamy ice cream that is bursting with fresh strawberry flavor. I got my strawberry puree to be very fine, so there were only traces of the whole fruit in my finished ice cream. If you want to add in some strawberry pieces, finely chop a few berries and stir them into the ice cream after it has finished churning and before you put it in the freezer.
This ice cream will keep well in the freezer, stored in a well-sealed container, for a couple of months. If you plan on having enough ice cream to enjoy through the holidays, however, I’d recommend making two or three batches. It makes 1 1/2 quarts of ice cream, which is a size that most at-home ice cream makers can handle easily.
Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream
1 pt fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups milk (pref. whole milk)
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cups sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
In the bowl of a food processor, puree strawberries (cleaned, leaves removed) with 1/2 cup sugar until mixture is very smooth. Transfer puree to another bowl and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine milk and cream. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.
While milk mixture cooks, gently beat together 3/4 cup sugar and egg yolks in a large mixing bowl. When milk mixture reaches a simmer, remove from heat and very slowly stream the milk into the eggs while whisking constantly, tempering the eggs.
When all of the milk has been added, strain the mixture back into the saucepan and return to the stove. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove from heat, stir in vanilla extract and strawberry puree and transfer to a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until completely cold (about 4-6 hours).
When your base is cold, pour mixture into an ice cream maker and chill according to the manufacturers’ directions.
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.