The thought of making ice cream has always evoked for me the smells and sounds of my grandparents’ cellar in Marseilles, Illinois.
Even when I use my Cuisinart doohickey with the canister you keep in the freezer so it’s ready when you’re ready, my brain conjures up sharp, minerally rock salt and wet burlap sack, scents co-mingled by the iron crush of a hammer wielded, alternately, by my brother, Mike, and my uncle, Mike. I hear the twin creaks – that giant, sloping , oak storm door and the handcrank we (Dad, Grampa, the Mikes, and scrawny-armed me) all took turns chug-chugging for what seemed like hours.
Now I wonder, after my first experiments with the no-churn method, will making ice cream evoke only Nigellissima’s voice and the pop-top thwack of a can of sweetened, condensed milk?
I first heard Nigella Lawson rave about no-churn on Morning Edition a few months ago, and I’d been wanting to try it ever since. So, rather than jar another pint of jam with this week’s remnant rhubarb, strawberries, and cherries, I thought I’d give a red-medley version a whirl.
I split the batch in two, so that a misstep wouldn’t waste all the fruit. Turned out to be a wise move, since the first attempt – in which I assumed I’d still have to sugar the rhubarb pretty heavily – resulted in something way too sweet for my taste. The full-batch recipe you see below significantly scales back on the added sweetener and lets the zing of the rhubarb shine through.
To be sure, the texture can’t approach a true custard that’s been painstakingly kept in motion while it freezes, but it tastes pretty damned good, and it really couldn’t be easier.
No-churn, red-fruit “Junebug” ice cream
- 3 cups rhubarb stalks, rinsed, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1/2 cup strawberries, washed and hulled
- 1/2 cup cherries, pitted (I used semi-sweet White Gold cherries from the tree in my yard)
- 1 can (14 oz) sweetened, condensed milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds removed
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- pinch of salt
- a scant 1/4 cup sugar (next time, I’ll use even less)
Place rhubarb in an ungreased roasting pan, toss with sugar, vanilla seeds and pods. Roast in a 375° oven for about 25 minutes, or until tender. Let cool.
Remove the vanilla pods. Combine rhubarb, berries, cherries, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor or blender (yes, I used my Vitamix). Process as smooth as you like. I wanted things a little chunky, so at the end I threw in a handful of frozen cherries for texture and bite. (Why Junebug? They’re all June fruits, and the roughly chopped cherry skins look a little like you-know-whats. You’ll get over it.)
Add the condensed milk to the fruit mixture and combine completely. Set aside in a large bowl.
Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form (shouldn’t be more than 3 minutes with a mixer or 6-7 minutes by hand).
Gently fold the whipped cream into the fruit-milk mixture, about one-third at a time, taking care to incorporate it fully before you move on.
Pour the mixture into loaf pans or other shallow containers. Freeze for at least 6 hours. Because if you taste it after just 4 hours, while it’s still soft, you won’t have any left for the weekend party you made it for in the first place.