It got hot this week. Like, for a day it got really hot. And humid. And uncomfortable. Partly because we still haven’t turned on the air conditioning yet. But that’s okay. Because the heat did something else. It spurred the local early strawberries to ripen. And ripen they did! It’s strawberry season!I love strawberries. They are my favourite fruit. Well, until cherries. And then peaches. Then those first, amazing, crisp apples…. Oh, and I forgot raspberries (which will be expensive this year, as our abundant patch has mysteriously up and died). Okay, I love fruit in general. But there really is something magical about these first strawberries. They are smaller, redder and more floral than the ones that will follow them (which are still wonderful). They practically beg me to buy more than we can reasonably eat before they pass their prime.
What to do?
And yes, you guessed it, that’s what happened this time. I had a full quart of ruby red goodness in the fridge, neglected for just a little too long. They weren’t bad. Just less appealing. Slightly softer, a little more to trim off… But I was not going to toss them. No way. Inspired by the burst of heat, I decided to make ice cream. And I wanted to make the most of the flavour of these early berries. So I decided to concentrate it by roasting them, which also transforms them enough that they don’t become crystallized lumps in the finished product like raw berries would.
This particular ice cream gets its sweetness from condensed milk, which also seems to help with the creaminess, since this isn’t a custard, which I’d traditionally make. Save for the roasting, this is an uncooked ice cream.
Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream
1 quart fresh strawberries, hulled and halved (or sliced if large)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup half and half
2 cups whipping cream
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a small baking tray with something non-stick (I used a non-stick foil). Place the sliced berries on the tray in an even layer. Sprinkle with sugar and bake for 20 minutes or so, until they get jammy. Scrape the fruit and all juice into a small bowl and mash lightly.
Once the strawberries are cool, combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Chill thoroughly. Pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a container and freeze until firm (or eat soft, straight from the machine – your choice).
I got about 5 cups of finished soft serve.