Blackcurrant ice cream (no ice cream machine required)

02/08/2016 at 23:01

Every summer, I ponder how to best make good ice cream without an ice cream machine. While idly flipping through the pages of one of my mother’s Swedish foodie magazines, I recently came upon a recipe which seemed worth building upon. Little did I know that the delicious blackcurrant ice cream would end up as a new personal favourite! And yes – it also turned out to be a truly excellent ice cream to make when the only machinery you have is the kitchen freezer!

Blackcurrant ice cream

Delicious Blackcurrant ice cream.  Yes: you can do it in your freezer, without any ice cream machine, and the results will still be great.

Ice cream without a machine? Yes, it is possible … with a ‘firm’ custard!

Attempts to make ice cream without an ice cream machine often end up disappointingly icy, and most freeze unpleasantly rock-hard too.

Why? The main problems are usually caused by inadequate emulsion and stabilisation of the ice cream base, and by the relative slowness of the freezing-process itself.

Traditional ice creams tend to rely on egg yolks, (the fat of) the dairy, and sugar to ensure a scoopable, frozen structure. Many people, yours truly included, also like the way eggs add to the overall flavour of the ice cream. Today’s “firm custard base” combines this general goodness of eggs with a small but significant addition of gelatin: a common, tried and tested household product for gelling (strict vegetarians might replace the gelatin with pectin). As we will see, the eggs and the gelatin together work wonders for the overall consistency of the ice cream [= ensuring proper emulsion and stabilisation, in technical terms].

But most kitchen freezers are quite slow to freeze, and that gives any ‘free-roaming’ water within the ice cream base time to grow into unpleasantly large ice crystals. We don’t want that, so it is important to minimise the freezing time. The easiest way to do it? – Make sure that the ice cream base is chilled already when you first put it into the freezer.

Ice creams also need air. As the freezer won’t do the required churning for us, we will simply have to do it ourselves, by hand. When the ice cream begins to freeze, grab a fork and churn it at regular intervalls during the freezing, and all will be fine!

 

Blackcurrant – tasty, healthy and perfectly suited for ice cream

Ribes nigrum, or Blackcurrant, grow on shrubs. Like many other berries, they are very healthy, and come filled with C-vitamins and fibre. As the berries also contain pectin, they also add some “gelling” power on their own, which benefits the ice cream.

Blackberries have a strong, tart flavour – in our recipe, however, this tartness will be mitigated by the other ingredients. The well-rounded and sweet end-result should please even those who normally do not care much for blackcurrants.

Blackcurrant - like many other berries, tasty, super healthy and loaded with goodness. Due to their high content of natural gelifier pectin, they work great in ice cream!

Blackcurrants – like many other berries, tasty, super healthy and loaded with goodness. Due to their high content of natural gelifier pectin, they work great in ice cream!

How to do it

Begin with the berries. There is absolutely no need to hull each and every berry, but you should at least remove any remaining stems. Then mix the berries with half of the sugar and purée them.

Set aside and begin to prepare the “firm” custard base.

Begin by putting half a sheet of gelatin to soak in cold water (for a minumum of about five minutes. No problems to leave it there longer, though). Set aside, as we will add it later, towards the very end of the custard-making.

While there are more traditional/complicated ways of preparing an ice cream custard, we will go for the modern and fast way: Just mix everything for the custard together from the very beginning (except for the blackcurrant purée and the gelatin, which we will add towards the end).

The quick, modern way to make ice cream base-custard: Put the dairy, the sugar and the egg yolks in a sauce pan, mix and heat!

The quick, modern way to make ice cream base-custard: Put the dairy, the sugar and the egg yolks in a sauce pan, mix, whisk and heat! And continue to whisk until the base is ready.

So – mix and whisk the cream, the milk, the remaining sugars, and the egg yolks together in a sauce pan.

Continue to whisk and bring to an almost-boil (about 85º C/185º F). Add the soaked half-sheet of gelatin. Whisk some more and when the gelatin has dissolved (should take less than half a minute or so), add the blackcurrant purée.

The blackcurrant purée goes into the custard base last ... to preserve some of the freshness of the fruit and avoid a total "jam flavour".

The blackcurrant purée goes into the custard base last … to preserve some of the freshness of the fruit and avoid a total “jam flavour”.

Whisk well, then remove the ice cream base from the heat and let cool down.

A good way to speed up the cooling-down in case you do not have an abundance of ice cubes: use a kitchen sink or a large casserole filled with cold water!

A good way to speed up the cooling-down in case you do not have an abundance of ice cubes: use a kitchen sink or a large casserole filled with cold water!

Once cool, let the ice cream base chill properly in the refrigerator for a few hours before you put it in the freezer. Remember: The ice cream becomes better the shorter time it takes to freeze it! Your household freezer will need all the help it can here.

After about an hour or so in the freezer, the ice cream will have begun to freeze a little. Whisk around well with a fork and revisit every 30-45 minutes until the ice cream is finished = has a pleasant - but still a bit soft - ice cream consistency. Enjoy fresh, for maximum pleasure!

After about an hour or so in the freezer, the ice cream will have begun to freeze a little, typically near the sides. Whisk around well with a fork, put back in the freezer and revisit and repeat every 30-45 minutes until the ice cream is ready = has a pleasant (but still a bit soft) ice cream consistency. Enjoy fresh, for maximum pleasure!

 

Mmm ... At this point, after about four hours in the freezer, we could no longer stay away from the ice cream. It was still a bit soft but i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-y delicious!

Mmm … At this point, after about four hours in the freezer, we could no longer stay away from the ice cream. It was still a bit soft but i-n-c-r-e-d-i-b-l-y delicious! If you want it firmer, just let it sit a bit longer in the freezer.

A happy union of delicious berry goodness and nice consistency

Ah! This recipe has become a new personal favourite. I was enthralled already after I tested the first mouthwatering batch. Everyone else was equally thrilled, and repeated attempts confirm it: this ice cream is a lushious gem! And it is possibly THE best egg-based recipe I know of for making quality ice cream without an ice cream machine.

Blackcurrant ice cream. A truly delicious gem. The firm custard base ensures great consistency even without an ice cream machine.

Blackcurrant ice cream, freshly hand-churned. A truly delicious gem. The firm custard base ensures great consistency even without an ice cream machine. It even keeps itself nice and scoopable in the freezer. What more could one ask for?

 

Thanks to the small but significant inclusion of a little gelatin, the ‘firm custard base’ provides the classic egg-based ice cream feeling, and without going over-board on neither eggs nor cream. The overall consistency and texture of the ice cream is impressive, even after many hours’ storage in the freezer.  

Still feeling a bit hesitant because of the typically so tart blackcurrant flavour? Don’t worry – in this ice cream, the core of the delectable blackcurrant flavour remains, but most of the tartness has been mellowed out. The final flavour is pleasantly rounded and sweet, almost candy-like, and should appeal even to those who normally don’t care much for blackcurrants.

 

Blackcurrant ice cream (no ice cream machine required)
By: 
 
Making ice cream without an ice cream machine can be difficult. This delicious recipe, however, works excellently even if all you have is your freezer. With the help of glorious blackcurrants, egg yolks and a tiny amount of gelatin, the texture and mouthfeel of this sweet delight is exquisite. Even those who normally do not care much for blackcurrant are likely to be pleasantly surprised!
Ingredients
  • About 200-225 gram blackcurrents
  • 50 ml (1/5 cup) + 50 ml (1/5 cup) sugar
  • 150 ml (3/5 cup) cream
  • 150 ml (3/5 cup) milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar (or raw cane sugar)
  • ½ sheet of gelatin
Instructions
  1. Rince the berries and purée them with half of the sugar. Set aside for later.
  2. Put the gelatin to soak in a cup of cold water. Set aside for later.
  3. Mix the cream, the milk, the egg yolks and the remaining sugar(s) in a saucepan.
  4. While whisking, bring to an almost-boil (up to a maximum of about 85º C/185º F).
  5. Add the soaked half-sheet of gelatin and whisk until it has dissolved.
  6. Add the blackcurrant purée, whisk well and take off from the heat.
  7. Let the ice cream base cool down, then chill in your refrigerator.
For still-freezing:
  1. Pour the chilled ice cream base in a freezer-safe container (with a lid) and put in your freezer.
  2. Wait for about an hour, take it out and churn thoroughly by hand, using a fork.
  3. Put back into the freezer and wait about 30-45 more minutes. Grab your fork and repeat the hand-churning, doing so until the ice cream has frozen to a nice, "ice creamy" consistency (count on about four hours or so).
  4. Enjoy fresh, or leave it in the freezer for later.
For churning with ice cream machine
  1. Pour the ice cream base into the machine and churn according to instructions.
  2. Enjoy fresh or store for later it in your freezer

 

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