I know bananas have a lock on that saying: “Quite possibly the world’s perfect fruit.” But what about the blueberry? Why does it get shoved aside in favor of “perfect” bananas? Was there a competition for “world’s perfect fruit”? Did the blueberry even enter?
I maintain that the blueberry can slide right in there via the “possibly.” Bananas could possibly by the world’s perfect fruit… if it weren’t for the even more exceptional blueberry. Round, plump, juicy and splendidly colored as no food in nature should be. Blueberries are my perfect fruit. I can eat them by the pintful, and often do.
But how can a “perfect” fruit be improved on? Leave it to my husband to crack that nut… er, smash that blueberry. He manages it via his fiendish ice cream machine, which churned forth this delicious, delectable, delightful blueberry ice cream. To raw blueberries’ simplistic, seductive (sometimes tartly) sweetness, my husband’s ice cream adds layers of creamy smooth complexity. It is rich, it is sweet, it is indulgent (well, not as low calorie as the blueberries themselves), it has that delightful purple-blue hue — and, bonus, it may even have antioxidents in it.
We’ve already established that blueberries are the world’s perfect fruit, now we can venture that they may also make the world’s perfect dessert. How? Ice cream, darling. Churn, baby, churn.
And now, the husband’s take…
So my wife really sounds like a fanatic for blueberries, and I hate to admit she is—a little disturbing, right? But don’t mess with the woman and her blueberries. This is why I took my life into my own hands when I came up with this recipe. But with that said, I got the job done. And really, it’s away to extend the peak season if you work it right. So she should stop the threatening looks when I talk about more blueberry recipes. If nothing else, just look at my boy Jack in the photos. That is one happy little guy eating blueberry ice cream. I think that it’s a strong testimonial in my favor.
Before leaving, a couple small technical issues. First, I strained the blueberries after blending. This is all about mouth texture. Blueberries are almost all skins and seeds. This is hardly noticeable when you eat them raw or whole, but to me ice cream has to have that smoothness in the mouth to be good. I suspect someone will tell me I’ve dulled the flavor by taking all those elements out, but I just didn’t feel right leaving them in. I mean I know it works for red wine to leave the skins etc. to develop greater flavor, but we strive for something more than just flavor.
The big negative is that it means your yield may not be all that great. So I find this recipe is likely most cost effective using frozen or berries that are just about to be past their prime.
Second, the recipe is composed of two steps. Step 1 of the recipe is simply making a blueberry purée. You could use this resulting liquid to flavor about a million different items. Steps 2 to 6 are simply the technique of making crème anglaise without the vanilla. This is a classic French technique of making smooth and thick custard that has multiple applications, but I almost always use for my base for ice cream.
If you want to experiment with your own ice cream flavors, I suggest taking this recipe and subtracting step 1, and then add flavors as you see fit. There are lots of great recipes out there, especially on David Lebowitz’s blog and his book Perfect Scoop, but I’m always looking for my own path and this is where I typically start.
1. In a blender, blend until smooth the blueberries, the lime juice and 100 grams (1/2 cup) of the sugar until very smooth. Strain the mixture using a fine sieve to remove seeds and skins. You should have about 2 cups of liquid remain. Set aside.
2. Set up a water bath by filling a large bowl with equal part of ice and water about half full. Place a smaller bowl inside.
3. In a heavy pot over medium heat, add 100 grams (1/2) cup of the sugar, the milk, the cream and the salt. Heat slowly. When the milk begins to rapidly boil at the edges, turn down the heat.
4. Whisk together the remaining sugar with the egg yolks. Temper the eggs by slowly adding several ladlefuls (totaling about third) of the hot milk to the sugar and egg mixture while whisking vigorously.
5. Add the new combined mix back to the pot and continue to stir. Return the heat to medium and continue to stir until it thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon. Pour immediately into the empty bowl in the ice bath.
6. Add the strained blueberry purée from step 1 and continue to stir until the mixture reaches slightly cooler then body temperature. (This means it should feel slightly cool if you touch the mix).
7. Move to a covered container and refrigerate overnight or freeze for approximately two hours. Once the mix is sufficiently cold, churn according to ice cream maker instructions.
Recommendation: I prefer to cool the ice cream base and the finished product and wide and shallow containers. I find it makes it quicker to cool and to harden while in those containers. Also find it makes it easier to scoop.