Rhubarb Black Pepper Ice Cream

june 19, 2019


Despite my aversion to most things pink, I managed to pull together a pretty pink Strawberry Vinaigrette a few weeks ago, but I was determined that this rhubarb ice cream would not be uniformly pink—there would be bits of fruit, and hefty bits of black pepper. Mostly creamy white, with bits of pinky red tart rhubarb. Success!

Being a hot region of the country, fresh rhubarb has a short season here, so getting some while the calendar celebrated spring was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. Our local answer to Whole Foods, Ellwood Thompson’s,  (and you know I’d always rather give the biz to local folks) had a nice tidy pile of rhubarb and planning could begin. I love tart and creamy and sweet and wanted a nice contrast to all those things with the mildly biting heat of black pepper. Grinding the pepper fresh is the key and the picture below shows the correct size of the pepper bits. Adding the pepper close to the end of churning means a fresh flavor and texture; unpleasant heat might result if the pepper steeps with the sweetened dairy at the start of the process.

proper size of black pepper

this is the proper size grind for the black pepper bits

local rhubarb for rhubarb black pepper ice cream

beautiful Virginia rhubarb – be sure to remove leaves, as they are poisonous

Rhubarb is lightly cooked with sugar for a compote ( see Rhubarb Apple Compote for yet another way to get some fruit into, or onto, your homemade ice cream) and chilled for addition toward the end of churning. As with all my eggless ice creams, dairy is lightly heated with sugar to reduce graininess and then chilled.

Rhubarb Black Pepper Ice Cream after freezing

This ice cream definitely develops flavor overnight, so you may be tempted to enjoy as a soft serve, or gobble it all up after a few hours of freezer time, but trust me when I tell you the rhubarb bits come into their own when you leave the mix to settle. I was surprised when my tasters could not tell me if the rhubarb flavor was outstanding because they couldn’t recall having this fruit before! Poor rhubarb must be elevated higher on the must-have list for seasonal eats! Right now it’s in the rhubarb cherry chutney on The Good Eats Company June menu to accompany the white bean carrot peanut patties inspired by Vegan Richa. Here the chutney is lightly sweet but tart with vinegar and a perfect accompaniment to the savory patties. My mom made rhubarb pie years ago and I loved the tart astringency of this spring beauty—she added very little sugar and let the rhubarb flavor shine without overshadowing with sweetness.

Rhubarb Black Pepper Ice Cream with cake

Cake plus ice cream makes it a complete meal, no?

Time to bring out your ice cream maker and start summer off with ice cream love.

Rhubarb Black Pepper Ice Cream

recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company

makes a little over one quart


3 cups finely diced fresh rhubarb (avoid green leaves)
⅓ cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure apple cider vinegar
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 ⅓ cup sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper


  1. Stir rhubarb, vinegar and ⅓ cup sugar to coat in heavy shallow (so rhubarb is coated evenly) quart saucepan over medium high heat and when mixture begins to sizzle, turn to low and cook until tender, stirring occasionally but very gently, about 10 minutes; cool to room temperature and chill at least several hours or overnight.
  2. In heavy quart saucepan, combine whole milk with 1 ⅓ cup sugar and stir over medium heat just until sugar is melted; in large glass or stainless steel container, combine sweetened milk with heavy cream and chill several hours or overnight.
  3. Add dairy mixture to running electric ice cream maker and mix until ice cream thickens to soft serve stage, about 17-18 minutes.
  4. Add black pepper to chilled rhubarb mixture and add this to running machine a couple tablespoons at a time to incorporate all well.
  5. Process another 7-10 minutes or until motor begins to slow.
  6. As you transfer ice cream to large container to freeze, you will need to remove bits of rhubarb clinging to the blades of the machine.
  7. Rhubarb flavor improves with overnight aging in the freezer; ice cream will be firm and benefits from a brief spell at room temperature to soften for scooping.
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2 thoughts on “Rhubarb Black Pepper Ice Cream

  1. Lois Sisk

    This was the most yummy ice cream I’ve had in years. It had been so long since I’d had rhubarb. You’ll love it!!


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