It was my Gran’s 90th birthday this week so I decided to make her something nice. She is a big fan of rhubarb and had just brought me a bunch from her allotment (yes allotment where she goes everyday, did I mention she is 90?). There wasn’t really enough for a pie or a crumble (neither of which is particularly ‘special’ - not the way I make them anyway), plus it is hot and not really crumble weather. My gran also happens to be a phenomenal maker of crumbles, so anything I attempted would be a pathetic tribute act in comparison. In the end I decided to have a go at producing a rhubarb and strawberry ice cream. I could only manage a handful of strawberries from each of the three varieties I’m growing (Mara des Bois, Tenira and Alpine) but when combined with the rhubarb it ought to be enough. It might even turn out to be quite ‘special’.
My Rhubarb and Strawberry Ice Cream/frozen yoghurt thing
140g of rhubarb (this is all I had)
14g of caster sugar
111g strawberries, plus some extra for chunks.
11g caster sugar
450g pot of rhubarb yoghurt (approx 500ml)
300ml crème fraîche
4-8 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon crème de cassis (optional)
2 tablespoons of strawberry jam (optional)
1 Vanilla pod (optional)
Runny honey to taste (optional)
I managed to scrape together a small bowl of mixed strawberries from the three varieties that I grow in my garden. They weighed in at 111g. My rule of thumb is 10% of the weight of fruit in caster sugar. I hulled and roughly chopped the strawberries and added 11g of caster sugar (lucky I have some new digital scales which allow me to be very precise). I mashed this together in a bowl, then covered with clingfilm and put in the fridge to chill.
Next chop the rhubarb into roughly 1” chunks and throw into a heavy bottom saucepan. Add 4-8 tablespoons of water (not enough to cover but enough to stop it all sticking to the bottom), 14g of caster sugar (or 10% of the weight of fruit) and 1 tablespoon of cassis (optional - I had some lying around so threw in a splash), I also added an old vanilla pod.
Gently simmer the rhubarb until it turns into a soft mush, then remove the vanilla pod (wash and save it for later) and pour into a bowl, cover and chill. I ended up leaving both fruit ‘compotes’ to chill overnight, which was handy as by the time I came to make the ice cream the next day some more strawberries were ripe enough to throw in at the end as chunks.
Once chilled, force the rhubarb mix through a fine mesh sieve with the back of a spoon or pestle into a large bowl. Similarly sieve the strawberry mix into the same bowl. Give it all a stir and check the taste. If too rhubarby then you can add some strawberry jam (pushed through the sieve to remove the seeds first) or if too tart then add some runny honey - which seems to go very well with rhubarb. I added both.
I decided to make a yoghurt based ice-cream-thing rather than a custard based ice cream as I’d just read a book that didn’t recommend giving them to very young children or the very old due to the risk of salmonella – I suspect that is mainly to cover the publishers from being sued in the unlikely event that some idiot poisons themselves but thought it would be a bit ironic to produce a killer ice cream as a 90th birthday treat. I also had a big tub of rhubarb yoghurt in the fridge so that kind of swung it.
Add one 450g pot of rhubarb yoghurt to the fruit and mix thoroughly (I was using ‘Rachel’s’ organic low fat bio-live yoghurt from Sainsbury’s because I already had it in the fridge, I am sure anything else would be fine. I am not sure why this is labelled in grams when the crème fraîche and cream are in millilitres). Next add a 300ml pot of half fat crème fraîche and mix in. You could add a few drops of red/pink colouring if you want at this point – I did.
Check the taste again, add more honey if it’s too tart. Chill for an hour then churn in your ice cream maker for about 15 minutes. I managed to scrape together another handful of strawberries from the garden which I quickly hulled and roughly chopped while the ice cream was churning. I dropped these in after the 15 minutes and let the machine churn for another 5 minutes. Pour into a container with a lid and freeze for at least 2 hours. Sorted!