This ice cream is an all time favorite of many folks. It was my choice as a child and my wife Janet’s also. My parents would take my brother Rick and me to Alwine’s Dairy® outside of Johnstown PA during the 1950’s and for a dime we would get a large yummy cone of that delight that was made of the best ingredients right at the dairy. The ice cream was very creamy and the color was deep and the taste was intense. Times have surely changed as that dime wouldn’t even buy a tablespoon of that high quality ice cream anywhere today, thanks to the Federal Reserve! Alas, Alwine’s Dairy® closed many years ago. Maybe I gobbled up their profits!
I decided to try making this ice cream, knowing that it would be rather more difficult than the other ice creams described in this section. With raspberries you get seeds and seeds are not found in the best commercial ice creams, so the trick is to make the ice cream without seeds. The taste intensity is a second consideration, so enough ripe berries must be used to get the right taste. That is the rub. When was the last time you even saw ripe black raspberries for sale? Worry not.
I enjoy a challenge. What I did first was verify that the Ben and Jerry’s® Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book© had a recipe I could use. They had a recipe but it was clearly screwed up. That is the second time I’ve found a bad recipe in that book and now I’m starting to doubt their sincerity (or at least their ability to pay attention to detail) in helping ordinary people make top quality ice cream at home. Well, I do give them credit for a great cream base recipe and some good background information on making ice cream. But why, pray tell, would they ever recommend making raspberry ice cream with the seeds in it?! There were other mistakes as well but I will forego mentioning them now and concentrate on making great ice cream.
Speaking of concentrating, that was my solution to the missing supply of black raspberries. I bought natural black raspberry concentrate via the Internet from a company named Natures Flavors® in Orange CA. The web address is www.naturesflavors.com. Different sizes of various real fruit concentrates are available and as you might guess the smaller quantities are quite expensive compared to larger quantities. Knowing my propensity to plow ahead you know that I bought a gallon of highly concentrated black raspberry juice. I could have paid $10 for four ounces but instead I spent $85 for a gallon, plus shipping. Why do anything half way? Dive in with all four feet! Little did I know that one drop of the product is recommended as a single serving! Well, they understate how much is needed but the product is excellent, thus, who needs fresh black raspberries? Not me, at least for this frozen dessert.
I attempted my first batch of black raspberry ice cream by doing what I thought would work. I was mistaken. Between my errors and those of Ben and Jerry the ice cream was too flat in taste and too light in color, and I was even forced to use food coloring in excessive amounts to get close to the right color. But now I have an improved recipe after thinking about needed changes, and you get the benefit of my experience. And voila! The modified recipe, shown below, is perfect.
First, when making ice cream from a flavored concentrate that can’t provide color you can use a secondary fruit that will not interfere with the flavor but which will provide natural color (like blueberries) … not the artificial stuff. Second, Ben and Jerry’s recipe had an internal conflict, saying that the fruit was very tart, yet calling for the addition of lemon juice. What to do? The answer is that when you use the concentrate you must add lemon juice to achieve the tartness necessary to avoid a bland ice cream. Sugar provides sweetness and the fruit concentrate provides the special flavor, but the lemon juice is critical to achieving a balance between creaminess, fruitiness and tartness. Enough said.
Let’s get on with the improved recipe and enjoy perfection.
Ingredients: (Makes 1½ to 2 quarts of ice cream)
2 cups of heavy cream
1 cup of half and half
2 extra large or jumbo eggs
1¼ cups of sugar
Juice extract from one cup of blueberries
Black raspberry concentrate … 1 to 1¼ tbsp. to make 1½ quarts of ice cream
3 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice (juice from one typical large fresh lemon)
1 tsp. of natural vanilla extract
Put the blueberries into a one quart saucepan with ½ cup of water. Bring them to a simmer on medium heat, crush the berries with a fork and simmer the mixture on very low heat while stirring for five minutes. Process the juice and the crushed berries through a sieve or a colander to extract the colored liquid. Set the extract aside and allow it to cool to room temperature, or briefly put it into the freezer.
Break the eggs into a five or six quart electric mixer bowl and mix them on medium speed until they are frothy. Add the sugar and mix until well blended, around five minutes. Add the vanilla and the lemon juice and continue to mix for one minute.
Add the extracted berry juice to the mixer bowl and mix well. Add the cream, half and half, and the black raspberry concentrate and mix thoroughly for two to three minutes on medium speed.
Transfer the mixture to a gelato maker and proceed to make the ice cream. When it is fairly stiff (about twenty-five minutes), transfer the ice cream to a two quart plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Put the container into the deep freeze for four hours or more to finish hardening the ice cream. Serve the ice cream and be delighted.
The addition of any liquid product other than cream or half and half when making ice cream may cause the ice cream to be less creamy. In this recipe I added extracted berry juice in a small amount of water to obtain good color so that is one example of necessary use of a non-cream based liquid addition. One way to accommodate the potential loss of creaminess is to increase the overall amount of cream, or, as I have done in this recipe, replace the normal amount of milk in Ben and Jerry’s cream base recipe with half and half. You will learn as you experiment what works best for you and that is what really matters. Note that as you change overall volume by adding cream or half and half you also need to consider changing amounts of flavorings, etc., to keep the right ratio.