A couple of years ago I started hinting that I wanted an ice cream maker for my birthday. My hinting must have been effective because I ended up with two, luckily two different styles. Last weekend I pulled them both out of the basement after coming home from the Farmers Market with half a flat of strawberries. I decided to make strawberry tarragon sorbet in one and strawberry ice cream in the other — that way I could compare the two desserts and the two ice cream makers at the same time. It was a little hectic but well worth the effort — one scoop of each makes a memorable dessert. If you have an ice cream maker stored somewhere other than in your kitchen, now is the time to pull it out and get ready for your 4th of July picnic.
I started with the strawberry tarragon sorbet using a maker that has a canister you pre-freeze for 24 hours before using. It worked beautifully but does take some planning to put it in the freezer ahead of time. This along with chilling the mixture before churning are the most essential steps, the rest is easy. If you have room in your freezer, you could keep the canister in and even use it as an ice bucket so you are ready to go whenever you are inspired.
For the ice cream I used a more traditional ice cream maker that calls for 8-12 lbs of ice. It sounds like a lot but is actually 2 bags of ice. Since it was the hottest day of the year, all but 1 bag was sold out at the corner store and that turned out to be plenty. Both ice cream makers are electric so if you want to conserve, use the kind that you hand-crank.
Strawberry Tarragon Sorbet
2 pints strawberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
a couple sprigs of tarragon (optional)
Squirt of lime juice
Wash and drain the strawberries. Remove the stems and cut each berry in half. Toss berries and sugar together in a bowl. Combine berries, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. As soon as the fruit comes to a boil, add the tarragon and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let the tarragon steep in the fruit for 5 minutes. Remove the tarragon.
Blend the berries and their liquid until smooth. I used a hand blender but you could also use a food processor. Pass through a fine mesh strainer, pushing the fruit through with a wooden spoon or spatula. Discard the seeds and pulp. Place the bowl in an ice bath to chill. If it needs more sugar, add a few teaspoons of superfine sugar. Transfer to the fridge and chill for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 2 days.
Churn according to ice cream machine directions. This sorbet is best served 4 to 6 hours after churning, but will keep in the freezer up to a week. This recipe is adapted from The Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle by Kate Zuckerman. This book is a wonderful resource for desserts using local ingredients.
Strawberry Ice Cream
3 egg yolks
3/4 cup half-and-half
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 pints strawberries
a couple drops vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
In a small bowl whisk 3 egg yolks briefly, just enough to break up.
Measure 3/4 cup half-and-half and 1/2 sugar into a heavy-bottomed pan. Heat over medium heat stirring to dissolve the sugar. When hot, whisk a little of this mixture into the egg yolks, then whisk the warmed yolks back into the hot half-and-half & sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Do not let it boil. Remove from the heat and quickly strain.
Add 3/4 cup heavy cream. Cover the mixture and chill in the fridge for several hours.
Wash, dry and hull strawberries. Mash with a potato masher or puree in a food mill. Stir in 1/4 cup sugar. Let the berries macerate in their own juices, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has melted. Add the berries to the cold cream mixture and flavor with vanilla and a pinch of salt.
Chill thoroughly and churn according to ice cream machine manufacturer’s instructions. This recipe can be adapted to all kinds of fresh fruit. It is from The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters.