Every June we make a pilgrimage to Thompson-Finch Farm in Ancram, New York. Growing organic strawberries is almost a religion there, and arriving on a hot morning to acres of glistening strawberries, I can’t help but fall to my knees and thank the God of summer. The girls dance and cheer around the perfect rows, stomping irreverently on the berries, staining their faces and clothes pink with the juice of the best fruit they’ve had since last year. Inevitably, I holler at them once or twice, “Respect the strawberries!”
We stuff our mouths full with strawberries warm from the sun, and then we fill flats to take with us to preserve. But by the time we get home, all I can think about is fresh strawberry ice cream, possibly one of the best foods there is.
The moment you bring strawberries such as those through the door, this is your recipe. It’ll take just a little while to throw together, and after a spell in the fridge—and in the churner—you will have your very own best strawberry ice cream. It’s a perfect mix of fruit and cream inspired by a recipe from Alice Waters’ classic The Art of Simple Food (Clarkson Potter, 2007).–Alana Chernila
LC Strawberry Fields Forever Note
Goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyways: The quality of the strawberries that you put into this ice cream will determine, in large part and no uncertain terms, the pleasure that you derive from it. It’s that simple. Kindly note, it’s not a cloying ice cream, deferring to the pleasing tartness of fresh, in-season strawberries, rather than a lot of sugar, for a pleasingly tempered sweetness. Shame The Beatles couldn’t have tasted this. We think they’d approve.
Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 1 H
- Makes about 1 quart
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 pints fresh strawberries, rinsed, patted dry, and hulled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons kirsch liqueur (optional)
- 1. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl and set them aside for a moment.
- 2. Place the half-and-half and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is hot and the sugar has dissolved, 5 to 8 minutes. Be careful not to let it boil.
- 3. Whisk a little of the hot half-and-half mixture into the egg yolks to warm them. Then whisk the egg yolk mixture into the pot, which is still over medium heat, and continue to warm it, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, until the mixture thickens and leaves a coating on the back of the spoon. Do not let it boil. Remove the pot from the heat.
- 4. Place a sieve over a large heatproof bowl and pour the mixture through the sieve. Discard the solids. Stir the heavy cream into the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- 5. Place the strawberries in a large bowl and mash them slightly with a potato masher or the back of a fork until a coarse purée forms. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, toss gently, and let the strawberries sit, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved and the strawberries have given up their juices, 10 to 15 minutes.
- 6. Stir the strawberries and their luscious juice into the custard mixture along with the vanilla, salt, and kirsch, if using. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and preferably until chilled throughout, which will take much longer. (You can refrigerate the custard for up to 2 days.)
- 7. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Consume immediately or, if you can withstand temptation, transfer it to a resealable container and freeze a little longer to give it that sturdy, old-fashioned ice cream stiffness. You may wish to let it soften a few minutes at room temperature prior to scooping to allow the chunks of berries to thaw slightly. (Impatience will be rewarded with brain freeze upon biting into an icy chunk of strawberry.)
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Testers ChoiceTesters Choice
May 24, 2013
I love ice cream. I really love homemade ice cream without all the chemicals and artificial this and that. This is a rich, very berry-tasting ice cream that we’ll be making over and over again this summer. It’s so simple to make and so much better than the store-bought stuff. I found really wonderful strawberries at the market—not those huge tasteless things but nice, plump, juicy ones. I followed the recipe except for one ingredient. I didn’t have kirsch and couldn’t justify buying it for 2 teaspoons, so I substituted cassis. This probably made the color a little more purple and less red but who cares? It was amazing! I chilled my ice cream base overnight and froze it in an ice cream machine the following day. I had to redistribute the berries part way through churning, as they collected around the blade in the machine.
May 24, 2013
This ice cream was wonderful! Very full of strawberries and so creamy. I love ice cream, and this was perfect to me—not too sweet or too rich. This ice cream was so good that if my electric ice cream machine ever broke, I’d crank a manual ice cream machine to make it again. I loved several things about this recipe other than the taste. First, I loved that I could do it in steps. I have 30 minutes here and there to do parts of recipes, but sometimes have trouble fitting in recipes that have very time-specific requirements. This recipe allowed me to spend a few minutes one night making the half-and-half mixture before I put it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day when I had a little time I prepared my strawberries and added them to the half-and-half mixture. Several hours later I put the ice cream into the maker. And 30 minutes later, all I had to do was stick it in the freezer—so easy! I’d recommend letting it soften just a bit before serving to avoid the chunks of strawberries being a little too frozen.
May 24, 2013
This is very easy to put together. The result is an ice cream that’s not too sweet, filled with ripe berry flavor, creamy but not heavy. My family described it as having a genuine strawberry flavor. The color was an amazing pink. This is a fabulous treat for warm spring and summer days.
May 24, 2013
I’ll make this recipe again and again this summer. It’s a great balance of sweet and strawberry-tart. There’s also a very interesting technical aspect about this recipe. The custard is made with only the half-and-half and eggs, not the heavy cream. The cream is added to the end mixture but it isn’t part of the thickening process. Hmmm…what happens to the heavy cream? It gets whipped, ice cold by the machine paddles, adding lots of air to the finished product. In commercial ice cream applications this is called air “overrun.” This textural difference really defines how dense, cold, and sweet the ice cream is later perceived to be. It’s a super smart recipe to use this approach and the whipped “iced cream” is AWESOME. I didn’t test this recipe with the kirsch; without it you’ll find this recipe completely kid-addictive.
May 24, 2013
This is 100% better than store-bought strawberry ice cream! It’s a really delicious ice cream. A refreshing strawberry flavor, rich but not heavy, and not too sweet. The recipe was easy to follow and the results were fantastic. This ice cream needs to be eaten fairly soon after freezing or it’ll be very hard. I didn’t add kirsch, but perhaps if I did the alcohol would make it easier to scoop after a few days in the freezer?
May 24, 2013
This recipe made a delicious, creamy, custard-based ice cream. The recipe works perfectly as written. I was a bit concerned about using all of the liquid that was produced from macerating the strawberries, but I went with it and everything blended together perfectly. I didn’t try it with the kirsch, but I believe it’d be even better with this optional ingredient.
May 24, 2013
I’m always on the lookout for new ice cream recipes. My family often gets together on Sundays at my mom and dad’s home to cook and visit. We frequently make ice cream for dessert in the spring and summer. This one was a hit with my family. I love all the berries. I did use the optional kirsch, but it was such a small amount I’m not sure I could really tell it was in there. Nevertheless, the ice cream was delicious and is one we’ll make again, I’m sure.
May 24, 2013
Usually I try to make a lighter, lower-fat version of ice cream. However, with the wonderful berries that we had, I just couldn’t compromise and had to go with the real deal. This is true ice CREAM! The bright, fresh taste of the strawberries seems to balance the recipe and keep it from being too rich given the cream, eggs, and half-and-half. I always like to add a couple of teaspoons of some sort of alcohol to ice cream anyway to prevent it from freezing into a solid brick, and I think the kirsch brightens the flavor of the berries but doesn’t really overpower them with its own taste. This recipe would be great with other fresh seasonal berries. I think this’ll be a summer staple at our house.
Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe © 2012 Alana Chernila. Photo © 2012 Jennifer May. All rights reserved.