The trouble with blueberries isn't what to cook with them—it's how to keep them tasting like blueberries once you do.
Blueberry pie usually delivers on the blue, but less so on the berry. Or close your eyes and take a taste of blueberry ice cream—without noting the color—and you might be hard-pressed to identify just which berry you're eating.
So I was excited to see a blueberry jam recipe in the New York Times that called for adding cinnamon and lime to the pot, not just for their complimentary flavors, but because lime and cinnamon contain terpenes, the volatile flavor compounds in blueberry skins that account for much of the berries' inherent flavor. Terpenes cook off quickly, but in theory adding those ingredients should restore some of the berries' essential berryness.
I can't say I'm experiencing the Totality of Blueberries with this ice cream recipe—all that cream adds a certain cobbler flavor, for starters—but I can say that the end result tastes pretty good. It's full of berry depth offset by lime peel and juice for a certain tartness. The cinnamon's role is subtle, but it contributes to the whole baked-pie feel of the ice cream. And there's a low thrum of star anise too, because I can't help but add the spice to dark fruits like blueberries and plums. We'll call it an optional but highly recommended addition.
Berry ice creams, even those with plenty of pectin, egg yolks, sugar, and fat, set up a little harder and icier than those made without, so let this one rest on the counter for a few minutes before digging in. Try it in a reverse pie a la mode: vanilla pound cake topped with a scoop of the blue stuff.
Blueberry-Lime Ice Cream Recipe
In this ice cream, blueberries are cooked into a rich jam with lime, star anise, and cinnamon, then blended into a custard for an ice cream that tastes like blueberry cobbler, but a lot more interesting.
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1 star anise star
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Peeled zest of 1 lime
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons lime juice from 1 lime, or to taste
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
In a non-reactive medium saucepan, cook blueberries on medium heat with star anise, cinnamon, lime zest, and sugar until the blueberries lose their shape and a jammy syrup forms, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove star anise and transfer to blender.
On top of blueberries add cream, then milk, then egg yolks. Blend on high speed until thoroughly pureed, about 30 seconds. Strain into a clean medium saucepan.
Cook base on medium heat, stirring frequently, until a custard forms on a spoon but a finger swiped across the back leaves a clean line. Remove from heat and strain into an airtight container. Stir in lime juice to taste, then salt to taste. Base should have a slight but not pronounced tartness.
Chill overnight in refrigerator, then the next day, churn according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer ice cream to freezer and chill for at least 4 hours before serving.
ice cream maker, blender or food processor