Monday, July 16, 2012

Foraging Floyd: Wineberries

Ronald Reagan is not high on my list of Presidents I Admire.  I mean, the man's administration had ketchup designated as a vegetable.  And now those wacky Republicans are at it again designating pizza as a vegetable (OK, actually the tomato paste ON the pizza) !

But what Ronnie did get right was designating the month of July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of July as National Ice Cream Day.  Just in time for homemade ice cream to be studded and flavored with all the gorgeous summer fruits ripening now!  Yesterday Michael headed off to forage wineberries while I was trying to figure out what to do with a bunch of leftover cream and buttermilk.  Yep, you know where this is going...

Wineberries are the feral cousins of red raspberries. They are an easily identified wild edible with no known poisonous look-alikes in North America.

Of all the wild cane fruits out there wineberries (in my opinion) are the most prized and the most dangerous to pick.  Leaving aside the bugs and bears that love the flowers and fruits, and the snakes that love to hang out in the shade under the canes, wineberries have the fiercest, meanest thorns of the cane fruits family.

So when Michael came home all sweaty, thorn-pricked, and bug-bit with a half gallon of hard-earned fruit what better way to reward him on National Ice Cream Day than with cool, creamy, pretty-in-pink Wineberry Buttermilk Ice Cream!

Wineberry Buttermilk Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks
2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla or half a vanilla bean, scraped and simmered with the cream
Pinch of salt
1-1 1/2 cups seedless wineberry puree

Gently rinse approximately a scant half gallon of wineberries (or raspberries, or blackberries) in cold water and allow to drain thoroughly.  Place the berries in a food processor and puree.  I used a deep bowl and my stick blender.  Place a sieve over another bowl or a two cup measure and force the puree through it to remove the seeds.  I found putting a small ladleful of puree in the sieve and then running the bowl of the ladle over it easily pushed the puree through the sieve.  You'll end up with a cup to a cup and a half of seed free puree.  Set aside.

In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the heavy cream and one cup of sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  You don't need to see bubbles around the edges, just look for the steam to rise.

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat and drizzle a small amount slowly into the yolks, whisking constantly to keep the eggs from curdling. Do this a few more times to warm up the yolks before pouring the yolk mixture back into the cream, whisking constantly.

Cook over low heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If the eggs curdled a little, just strain the mixture and return it to the pot.  Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, wineberry puree and salt. Chill and freeze according manufacturer’s directions for your ice cream maker or churn.

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