I’m assuming that the dry summer weather caused a smaller yield in Washington’s Wild Blackberries than it did last year because as I paced the perimeter of a few blackberry bushes near the local dog park, I saw that the majority of the fruit had dried out. Or the smaller-than-average crop meant perhaps other like-minded people had harvested the bushes before I had.
I didn’t really let it deter me. On one foot (and in Birkenstocks, no less) I balanced precariously over the thorny bushes to reach the wonderful Washington Blackberries sitting atop the bushes; the same berries that were probably out of reach for more cautious foragers. I have the scratches on my arms and the snags in my favorite shirt to prove it. While I stomped around in the thorny brush, Margot sat in her carseat in the shade nearby. She was more interested in her hand than my foraging. Babies.
Last year, our over-abundance provided me with enough blackberries to make preserves. I even shipped a few jars to family members in other states. This year I only came out with a pint or so. At the suggestion of my dear friend Rachel, I decided to turn my small yield of berries into ice cream. That Rachel is full of good ideas.
Using the same concept I did for my Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream, I made my Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Base and swirled in homemade Blackberry syrup. The great thing about this recipe is that you can omit the Blackberry syrup-making process and substitute for another fruit syrup, fruit preserve or topping of your choice. Throw in some chopped up cookies or candies, chopped nuts, or even caramel sauce! The possibilities are endless.
Wild Blackberry Swirl Ice Cream Recipe
1 Cup Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean
2 Cups 2% milk
1 3/4 Cup Half & half
1/4 tsp of Xanthan Gum
1 Cup Wild Blackberries
1/2 Lemon, juiced
1. Slice the vanilla bean length wise using a paring knife, then scrape the caviar using a spoon.
2. In a large bowl, mix sugar and vanilla bean caviar until well blended. Slowly add in the milk, and the half & half. Next sprinkle in the xanthan gum. Allow ingredients to incorporate while you work on the blackberry swirl syrup.
3. Rinse blackberries, and pick through, ensuring there are no stems or other debris present, then put into food processor. Squeeze half a lemon (less is okay) over the blackberries and blend until smooth. Over a bowl, strain the blackberries through a sieve, making sure that all the juice is extracted from the berry pulp. Set blackberry syrup aside. Discard pulp.
4. Pour ice cream mixture into ice cream maker, and allow it to churn for about 20-25 minutes. Watch it closely. When the Ice Cream reaches the rim, turn off the mixer and spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container. Slowly drizzle blackberry syrup over the ice cream and swirl in with a spoon. Be sure to fold the syrup into the lower layer of the ice cream as well. Freeze for an additional 2-5 hours until the ice cream reaches a scoopable density. Serve and enjoy!
– I originally blended the blackberry syrup directly into the ice cream mixer, creating a delightfully colorful, and less marbled ice cream. The taste was still wonderful, but for that marbled affect, use the above instructions.
– Xanthan gum is used in my ice cream recipes to keep this lighter ice cream base from become icy. It works wonders on these Philadelphia style ice cream recipes.
– Follow this vanilla ice cream base recipe and add fruit preserves straight into the ice cream mixer. This is another great way of having a fruit-swirl ice cream of your choice. But be sure to keep an eye on it, when you add more volume, the changes of an overflowing ice cream machine run high.
Take your lemon and vanilla bean discards, place them in a pot with water and let it simmer on low as a natural air freshener. I like to save up a few vanilla bean pods for the pot so the fragrance is extra sweet.