Merry Berry Month of May

I’ve never been a big fan of strawberry ice cream, especially when it includes pieces of strawberry. They freeze and provide a grating, icy mouth feel to something that’s supposed to be smooth and creamy.

My Ice Cream 101 professor mentioned the difficulty of adding fruit to ice cream due to its high water content, and my mind started racing about ways to tackle the problem. Ever since the class, I waited for strawberry season. For the past two weeks, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in strawberries. After washing, hulling, and eating many quarts of strawberries, I’m over strawberry season.

The recipe I used as a starting point (Jeni’s Splendid Roasted Strawberry and Buttermilk Ice Cream) used only one half-cup of roasted strawberry puree per quart of finished ice cream. Two weeks ago, I made that recipe as well as two variations. Why did I make the variations? Because I like to make things difficult and I want to create something of my own. Irritatingly, we liked Jeni’s recipe the best of the three. But none of them (all made with just a half-cup of strawberry puree) bowled us over with strawberry flavor.

In case you didn’t believe I made three versions of strawberry ice cream in one weekend.

I’m a bit on the lazy (logy!) side. So given all the work involved in this endeavor (hauling our asses to a farm in Maryland to get the strawberries, then washing, hulling, slicing, roasting, and pureeing them), I wanted more berry flavor. I’m demanding like that. The ice cream sort of tasted like a strawberry yogurt popsicle. 

Not being such a huge strawberry ice cream fan to begin with, I decided to try making one of my favorite strawberry desserts into an ice cream flavor. Enter strawberry pretzel salad ice cream:

Strawberry Pretzel Salad Ice Cream

I took some of the leftover roasted strawberry puree and boiled it with more sugar until it became syrupy and thick (so it wouldn’t freeze). Then I swirled the strawberry sauce into cream cheese ice cream. I baked up a small amount of sweetened crushed pretzel crust and threw that in as well.

I loved it. It tasted almost exactly like strawberry pretzel salad and the strawberry swirl had much more berry flavor than any of the dedicated strawberry ice creams. The pretzels started getting soggy after a couple of days though. And Dave didn’t like it, totally bursting my “I’m a brilliant ice cream flavor creator” bubble.

Over Memorial Day, I tested another variation of strawberry ice cream, doubling the amount of strawberry puree. We liked it marginally better than the original three versions. Economically speaking, I’m not sure the flavor boost was worth adding an extra half-cup of puree. The dairy just seems to dilute the flavor either way.

Gold star for anyone who correctly guesses which of these contains double the amount of strawberry.

I don’t know if I have a future in the ice cream business, or food service more generally. It seems that “artisan” and fresh, local ingredients are all the rage. That’s all well and good, and I would want to make homemade ice cream with high-quality ingredients if I opened a store, but some of the effort (and more importantly, expense) seems silly. Maybe I’m just disgruntled from all that washing and hulling and slicing and roasting, but I find it really hard to believe that most people would notice a difference between fresh farm strawberries and store-bought frozen strawberries after adding sugar, pureeing the crap out of them, and then diluting the puree with more than 3 cups of dairy. I see a test of this in my future, but not anytime soon, because I’m sick with this.

After all of this, we simply hadn’t eaten enough strawberry dessert. So I did what anyone who had already made five batches of ice cream in two weeks would do…I made another dessert. A testament to the lack of excitement in my life, this extra dessert-making was due in large part because I wanted to take a picture of a piece of actual strawberry pretzel salad next to my ice cream version.

Variations on a theme of strawberry pretzel salad.

Since strawberry season is almost over here, I also made extra strawberry puree to freeze so that I have it on hand to make strawberry ice cream for my summer ice cream social. I didn’t make quite as much puree as I’d hoped since I overfilled the food processor, causing puree to ooze out everywhere, but that’s a bitch-fest for another day.

NOTE: Photo of the puree made with my blood, sweat, and tears from $5.49/quart strawberries running all over my kitchen counter and down my kitchen sink drain is not available.

Please to enjoy one of my favorite commercial ear worms ever, from my hometown joint Eat’n Park. I make better strawberry pie, by the way.

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19 Responses to “Merry Berry Month of May”

  1. Ms. HalfEmpty
    Friday, June 1, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    I’ve been enjoying strawberry season too. But I just eat them, rather than do anything fancy with them.

    I’m also not a fan of fruit chunks in ice cream because of the ice factor.

    I’m intrigued by the word “salad” in “strawberry pretzel salad.” I don’t think I’d ever want salad flavored ice cream.

    • logyexpress
      Friday, June 1, 2012 at 9:10 am #

      I had never heard of strawberry pretzel salad until a couple of years ago and it sounded weird to me. But it’s just sweetened pretzels baked into a crust, topped with sweetened cream cheese (with Cool Whip folded in, because why not?), and all that topped with strawberries and strawberry jello. When I mentioned it to my mother, she said “oh yeah, I’ve had that lots of times.”

      Uh, where was I???

      I have no idea why the word salad is in the name. I think it has something to do with the inclusion of jello. But the jello part skeeves me out so I make strawberry sauce thickened with cornstarch to layer with the strawberries on top.

  2. paralaxvu
    Friday, June 1, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    OK, so first I don’t listen to your use of the term “Ear worm” and merrily tap into that commercial. And yes, it’s still playing in my ears. Not only that, but I wanna go roller skating! Then I decide I have to snoop out why that salad of yours is called a “salad.” Geez, I wish Wikipedia had never been born…I spent another hour an half at their site going from one salad to another and searching half the references on the darn page. Stop it, I say, STOP IT!!!

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

      Ha, if I lodged the song in your brain, then my work is done. I think the “salad” name may have something to do with the jello the recipe calls for….which I never even use when I make it. I’m a snob and have to make my own strawberry sauce. So I guess I should call it strawberry pretzel layered dessert thing, but that doesn’t have the same ring, does it?

  3. Angie Z.
    Friday, June 1, 2012 at 10:23 pm #

    It just so happens that I have some Haagen Dazs strawberry ice cream in the freezer right now (for my kids). I’ve never had a love for strawberry ice cream for the reasons you stated. I think I’m going to end up digging through my freezer after this post.

    • Larissa T. (Papa is a Preacher).
      Friday, June 1, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

      Strawberries cause such a fuss! I’ve tried baking with them. .. all I’ve done is fail. Your ice creams and dessert look delicious though .. I’d love to try some!

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

      I don’t even know what strawberry ice cream usually tastes like–I’ve never really selected that flavor so I have no reference point. How was the Haagen Dazs? I’d say I should taste some store bought strawberry, but I’m pretty over this flavor right about now.

  4. Susi
    Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 2:01 am #

    The last one, with the strawberries on the top, looks wonderful!!!! I’ve heard the word pretzel here and there on blogs and I have NO idea what that is!!!
    I’ve actually never thought of fruit causing troubles because of water.. I remember we made strawberry ice-cream at home once, but I can’t remember how that turned out. We might try again soon though. We’re just expecting a new freezer so that we’ll have room for the ice-cream machine.

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

      We just ordered a second freezer for the basement. As of next Wednesday, we’ll have 13.7 more cubic feet of frozen storage for ice cream!

  5. Amy
    Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    I love the flow of this. “I hate strawberry ice cream…” “So I made strawberry ice cream…” :)

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 4:52 pm #

      Yeah, I’m a masochist. I actually made ANOTHER batch last weekend, using a technique that America’s Test Kitchen promised me would yield strawberry ice cream without frozen berry chunks–liars!

      The flavor was great, but I’m still obsessed with fixing the icy berry problem. But I’m now officially done with strawberry ice cream making until next year. And if I mention otherwise, please slap me.

  6. speaker7
    Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 8:35 am #

    You are so right on about the furry strawberries in strawberry ice cream. I try to eat around them, but sometimes you get one and want to scrape your tongue on a sidewalk.

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

      Perhaps I can just open an ice cream shop that doesn’t carry strawberry? And whenever anyone asks for it, I can just yell “NO ICE CREAM FOR YOU!” I probably wouldn’t be a good shop owner.

  7. idiosyncratic eye
    Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    I was going to suggest puree or some kind of extract. Ooh, can you find a strawberry liqueur? Apparenly you can’t use too much because of the freezing point but I’d bet that’s an interesting alternative to explore. You have way too much energy making that much ice cream! 😉

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

      Last weekend I made more and I soaked berries in vodka, hoping to depress the freezing point of the berries. America’s Test Kitchen said this would help, but it was marginal. Strawberry season is basically done here and I’m sort of glad. I need a year to recover before trying this again.

  8. sisterhoodofthesensiblemoms
    Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    I loved this because I make stuff all of the time, but end up just tortured. I could FEEL the strawberry puree oozing out of the food processor. :) And thank you for pointing out the icy chunks of strawberries, exactly why I’m not a fan of strawberry ice cream. Loving strawberry season though. Ellen

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

      A few weeks out, I can smile over my food processor error now. I need to remember that I started making ice cream because it’s fun.

  9. Lady Googoogaga
    Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    Yum, I really need to live with someone who makes ice cream all weekend!

    • Tracy @LogyExpress
      Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

      Come on over, we need help eating everything I make! I’m going to need to start giving some away.

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