Here’s the Scoop
I’m a very lucky lady.
You see, I have access to some of the best and most productive blueberry bushes imaginable. These bushes have been around since my grandfather plunked them down beside the summer kitchen/wood shop on my family farm. And there they have prospered, with a little help from my mom and me. A year or two ago, I cut them back almost to the ground as they are rather old and needed to rejuvenate. Since then, they’ve grown like weeds, towering almost seven feet in the air, branches heavy with sapphire orbs.
These blueberries aren’t like the ones you get in the store. And, in my opinion after having done a taste comparison, they far surpass anything they’ve got in Maine. I don’t know if it’s the variety (this information is long since lost) or the soil they grow in, but these berries are plump and extremely juicy with a complex balance of sweet and tart from berry to berry. I know the idea of sweet and tart at the same time sounds contradictory, but it’s the way they are. And it makes them great for pies (stay-tuned for that recipe).
As I mentioned earlier, I spent the holiday weekend visiting friends and family in my small hometown in central Pennsylvania, during which time I ate more homemade ice cream in one 24 hour period than should be legally allowed. First I had a couple huge scoops of peanut butter, then vanilla, then chocolate, and lastly strawberry. Hey, before you judge me to harshly, consider how hard it is to make up your mind when presented with so many delicious choices of ice cream churned just the day before from fresh (i.e., not homogenized so it’s ridiculously creamy) milk gotten no more than ten miles away from the spot on which you are weighing the merits of each flavor. Ah yes, now I see the light of understanding dawning in all your eyes…
Back in Philadelphia later in the weekend, D and I invited some friends over and I thought they too deserved the joy of homemade ice cream. With more than a gallon of fresh blueberries in my fridge, it seemed obvious what flavor to make. I loosely adapted the recipe I used for the Lavender Vanilla Ice Cream and went with my gut on how to prepare the blueberries. The color alone was worth the effort.
Licking at a scoop was rewarding as well… creamy, smooth, just sweet enough… I would have liked the blueberry flavor to be a bit more pronounced though so I adjusted the amount in the recipe below. Another change I may make in the future is to add some miniature chocolate chips. I had a few on my last dish and wished I’d thought of it sooner. I adore chocolate almost as much as I adore these blueberries! Fortunately (?) I’ve never been presented with an array of freshly and locally made chocolates to choose from… that might very well be the end of me!
Dreamy Creamy Blueberry Ice Cream
A Straight from the Farm Original
3 C. fresh blueberries
1/2 C. sugar
1 T. lemon juice
1 1/4 C. half and half
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 C. vanilla sugar (regular granulated sugar is fine too)
1/4 C. Splenda or other sugar substitute
pinch of salt
2 C. heavy cream
In a large saucepan, gently heat the blueberries, 1/2 cup sugar and lemon juice until it bubbles and the berries break down, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
In another smaller saucepan, gently heat the half and half and the vanilla bean until warm, but not boiling. Fish out the vanilla pod halves and stir in the salt, vanilla sugar and Splenda while still warm.
In a bowl that can go in the freezer, combine the blueberry, vanilla mixture and cream, stirring to evenly combine. Chill mixture in the freezer until cold, about an hour.
Churn chilled mixture in an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s directions (usually about 20-30 minutes).
(makes about 1 quart)