Why It Works
- Stovetop cooking creates a deep and jammy blackberry flavor.
- A touch of cinnamon amplifies the natural aroma of blackberries.
- Straining the purée reduces astringency and creates a smoother ice cream.
I've got a major thing for fruity, Philadelphia-style ice cream—a straightforward combination of fruit, cream, and sugar. Normally, I'm all about roasting watery fruits like strawberries and cherries, a relatively gentle cooking method that concentrates their juices in the oven.
But when the thermostat starts to climb, it's worth working with direct heat on the stovetop if that means keeping the oven off and the kitchen cool. Especially when it comes to blackberry ice cream, where the fruity base can benefit from the deeper, jammy flavors cultivated by direct heat.
The process is a straightforward one: combine fresh blackberries and sugar in a 3-quart stainless steel saucier, then smash with a metal spatula to break up the berries and release their juice (compared to the dull edge of a potato masher, I find the spatula's sharp edge greatly reduces the risk of splashing).
Once the berries are swimming in juice, bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat and cook until reduced by 14 ounces—a process that's dead easy to monitor with a digital scale (in fact, without one, the mess and margin of error are high enough for the recipe to lose its allure altogether).
This reduction drives off about 35% of the fruit's water content, concentrating the blackberry flavor and eliminating potential fuel for iciness in the finished product; if done inaccurately (as is inherently the case with volume measurement), the results have the potential to be both bland and icy, which makes a digital scale absolutely essential.
After the reduction, I strain the mixture to extract the concentrated blackberry purée and remove the bitter seeds. In the end, I discard about 10 ounces of seedy pulp, leaving me with about 20 ounces of concentrated, lightly sweetened blackberry purée. This is cut with a splash of fresh cream, giving the base all the structure it needs to churn up thick and light down the road.
If the berries are particularly sweet and mild, the base can be doctored with a splash of lemon juice to cut through the cream's richness and a pinch of cinnamon to amp up their aroma (the latter I'd recommend even with top-notch berries, as cinnamon has a way of helping blackberries really pop). A few teaspoons of bourbon can help with the ice cream's aroma as well.
However the base is adjusted, it needs to be refrigerated until thick and cold, no warmer than 40°F (4°C). This can be done rather quickly in an ice bath, or passively in the fridge, before churning in an ice cream maker.
Let the ice cream churn until fluffy and thick, but not necessarily the color you see here. The exact appearance of the ice cream will vary depending on the berries themselves, which can produce colors ranging from bright fuchsia to deep burgundy. Likewise, the specific flavor of the ice cream can vary wildly depending on the quality of the fruit.
Transfer to a 4-cup capacity non-reactive, freezer-safe container (whether that's a specialty container, an empty yogurt bin, or an anodized aluminum loaf pan), and freeze until firm enough to scoop.
However it's served, this ice cream celebrates summer blackberries at their peak, so seek out the best you can find.
40 ounces fresh blackberries, washed and drained (8 cups; 1.13kg; see notes)
5 1/4 ounces sugar (about 3/4 cup; 148g)
1/8 teaspoon (0.5g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
14 ounces heavy cream (about 1 3/4 cups; 395g)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons bourbon, rum, or gin (optional)
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice (1 tablespoon; 15g), optional
In a 3-quart stainless steel saucier, combine blackberries, sugar, and salt. Using a metal spatula, crush the berries until the sugar dissolves (the spatula's comparatively sharp edge will minimize splashing compared to the dull edge of a potato masher). Using a kitchen scale, weigh the pot and fruit together, then make note of that number to track the reduction. Cook over medium heat until bubbling hot, then simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture has reduced by 14 ounces (395g). The time required will vary depending on the size, shape, and type of cooking vessel, as well as the size and output of the burner, but expect about 30 minutes, and adjust heat as needed to proceed at a similar rate. (Try not to over-reduce the fruit, as it can produce unwanted flavors, but if you do accidentally do it, you can add back just enough water to correct the weight.)
When reduced by 14 ounces, strain into a large bowl through a fine-mesh stainless steel strainer. Press and stir the blackberries with a flexible spatula to extract their juices, until there's nothing left in the sieve but about 10 ounces (1 heaping cup; 285g) seedy pulp, with 20 ounces (565g) blackberry purée in the bowl.
Discard the blackberry pulp. Stir the cream, cinnamon, and alcohol (if using) into the concentrated blackberry purée, along with lemon juice (if needed) to brighten the flavor. Cover and refrigerate until no warmer than 40°F (4°C), then churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Meanwhile, place a 1-quart container and flexible spatula in the freezer.
When ice cream looks thick and light, shut off the machine and, using the chilled spatula, scrape ice cream into the chilled container. Enjoy as soft-serve, or cover with plastic pressed directly against surface of ice cream, then close lid and freeze until firm enough to scoop.
The flavor and color of this ice cream can vary dramatically with the quality of the fruit; if the blackberries aren't fresh and delicious to start, the ice cream will be lackluster as well.
We highly recommend using a digital scale to ensure the best results.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 18g||23%|
|Saturated Fat 11g||57%|
|Total Carbohydrate 29g||10%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||18%|
|Total Sugars 24g|
|Vitamin C 20mg||99%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|