august 10, 2018
Foraging is in my blood. Growing up, my mom and I would tromp through woods in search of sassafras roots to make homemade root beer. Ancient, gnarly pear and apple trees yielded enough fruit for pies and for sharing with the local orphanage. My mother knew how to pick poke salad greens and cook them in a pot, but my city sensibilities have all but removed that earthy knowledge and now I buy my greens from markets. I do know a thing or two about wild blackberries, however, and when spring erupted with dozens of wild blackberry brambles in my yard, I figured my youthful foraging would be put to good use. Visions of blackberry cobbler like Mom made, topped with homemade vanilla ice cream, clouded my good judgment. Half the plants grew fruitless and the other half produced stumpy little bitter bobs that resembled blackberries in color only. This yard experiment failed. The brambles multiplied like rabbits and bedeviled my poor arms as I fitfully yanked and pulled. Next spring my plan is to dig and pull early before they win.
Thankfully, local purveyors like Agriberry Farms grow big, juicy blackberries for sale at farmer’s markets and my local grocery. I think the idea of cobbler was tainted by my paltry yard yield of blackberry pretenders, and so I settled on a nice ice cream recipe instead. With buttered pecans for flavor, texture and a more nutritious meal. Yes, I wrote meal. Have you never had ice cream for dinner? If not, we can’t be friends.
So many blackberry recipes have you strain out the little seeds. The little beady seeds make me slow down and chew a little more, and I don’t mind their texture. You do have the option of straining the chunky blackberry puree before adding it to the ice cream base. Or, if you use an electric ice cream machine with turning blades, keep in mind that most of the seeds cling to those blades; when you’re done churning, simply scrape off seeds from the blade paddles and discard. One trick for a creamy berry ice cream is the addition of vodka which prevents an icy mix.
Did I miss National Ice Cream Day? By the calendar only, because every day is ice cream day at my house.
recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company
makes about one quart
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans (largest no bigger than a green pea)
one pint fresh blackberries
one cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ cups whole milk
2 ½ cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons vodka, grain free
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Melt butter and kosher salt over medium low heat (avoid browning), add pecans and stir frequently until golden and fragrant, about 4-5 minutes, adjusting heat if pecans darken too quickly; chill pecans at least several hours.
- In a small nonreactive saucepan (stainless steel), mash blackberries with sugar over medium low heat and stir occasionally until sugar is melted; cool to room temperature; if you really don’t like seeds, strain this with a fine sieve, but note that you will also lose some of the berry goodness as well.
- Mix sweetened berries with milk, cream, vodka and vanilla and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Add well chilled berry mixture to running electric ice cream machine and process for about 20 minutes until all thickens, then add buttered pecans 2 tablespoons at at time until all are incorporated.
- Process another 3-5 minutes and if desired, scrape off excess blackberry seeds from the paddles.
- Ice cream will be too soft to eat right away and needs at least several hours in the freezer to set.