Ice cream maker. Many of you will already have an unused ice cream maker, lurking at the back of a cupboard. The usual type consists of a removable, pre-freezing bowl, with a electrical motor top and paddle. There is also a new type where the motor is underneath and the bowl turns around the fixed paddle. The pre-freezing bowl should be put into the freezer at least 24 hours ahead of making your frozen desert.
Home made ice cream and yogourts tend to have a harder texture and very few ingredients compared to shop bought. The basic ingredients are the fruit sauce, the cream or yogourt, sugar or artificial sweetener. Fruits with a high pectin content, such as Blackcurrants, and Plums, make a softer ice cream, especially when added to the mixture as jam.
The large quantity of sugar and fat in commercial ice cream helps to create a softer texture, as well as adding sweetness. Most commercial ice creams are far too sweet for my taste, as well as being loaded with calories.
An alternative to using large quantities of sugar and all the associated calories, is to add a gelling agent, such as “Vege-Gel” or gelatine, or Agar, to the fruit sauce, to prevent the ice crystals becoming large during the freezing process.
The fruit sauce. This can be made from Apples, Blackcurrants, Blueberries, Gooseberries, Huckleberries, Jostaberries, Plums, Raspberries, Rhubarb and Ginger, Redcurrants, Strawberries, Tayberries.
The basic method is the same. The sauce should be prepared the previous day, by bringing the prepared fruit to the boil and simmering for a few minutes, till soft. This will kill any bacteria and prevent spoilage. Add as little water as possible. For fruit with a lot of pips, such as Gooseberries, Redcurrants, Raspberries, or Tayberries, sieve them through a medium sieve. Take out the stones from Plums. Crush strawberries before simmering.
Add sugar, or low GI index fruit sugar, to taste and heat until it is dissolved. Immediately cool the pan in cold water. When cold, place the fruit sauce in a container, overnight, at the back of the fridge to cool to a lower temperature.
You can leave out the sugar, and add an artificial sweetener, such as “Splenda”, during the churning process. This will cut out a few more calories! In this case, to make a softer ice cream, you will need to add the gelling agent, half a sachet of “Vege-Gel”, or gelatin or Agar, to the cold fruit sauce, reheat, and again allow to get cold in the fridge.
For the cream component, traditional recipes use a custard made by heating 150 ml milk to almost boiling point, and then pour over 2 beaten eggs. Return the mixture to the pan and stirring constantly, heat (do not boil or the mixture will separate) until the mixture thickens to coat the back of a spoon. Leave to go cold and then stir in 150 ml of 50 % double cream. This mixture is about 25 % fat and high in cholesterol.
To save time, you could use a ready made product such as M&S half-fat, 25% fat, thick cream.
A low-fat alternative quick alternative would be tinned or packeted low fat ( 2% ) custard. This should be cooled in the fridge overnight before use.
Alternatively, you could try a light, unsweetened, evaporated, partly skimmed milk with about 4 % fat. This should be cooled in the fridge before use.
For frozen fruit yogourts, a starting point for the “cream component”, would be a natural set yogourt with about 4% fat content. Using a set yogourt, you can increase the solids content by draining it and it makes a softer end product. If you happen to have an extremely fine nylon sieve, you will find that the set yogourt can be strained to loose about half the volume
Alternatively, use a teaspoon to take out a “column” of the set yogourt at the outer edge of the pot, and place the pot in the fridge overnight. In the morning, pour away the clear liquid that has filled the “column”. You can also use a ½ fat thick Fromage Frais, with about 10 % fat. You can even get Fromage Frais with a fat content of 0.2 %. Also possible to use a reduced fat Greek yoghourt.
For a softer fruit yogourt, use jam (your own if possible), as the fruit component as it contains large amounts of pectin and it is so easy to use.
LOW FAT, SOFT FROZEN, FRUIT-JAM YOGOURT.
Two 450g tubs of set, low-fat, drained natural yogourt, chilled in the fridge.
150g of home made jam or jelly if pips present, (plum, blackcurrant, gooseberry, redcurrant), chilled in the fridge.
Add the ingredients to the pre-frozen freezing bowl and churn, adding any additional ingredients right at the end.
Churning of the Ice cream or Yogourt. For the 1.1 Litre size of freezing bowl, the maximum quantity of liquid ingredients is 600 ml, to allow for the expansion of the liquids when frozen. A good mix would be 300 ml of fruit sauce and 300 ml of cream, custard or yogourt. For the 1.5 Litre size of freezing bowl, the maximum quantity of liquid ingredients is 900 ml. A good mix would be 450 ml of fruit sauce and 450 ml of cream, custard or yogourt. As you can see, I suggest that you use equal quantities of the fruit sauce and the cream, but you can alter the proportions to suit your own taste. However, Blackcurrants have such a strong flavour that you could reduce the quantity of the Blackcurrant sauce to 30 % of the total.
Take out the pre-frozen freezing bowl from the freezer, attach the motor, and pour in the quantities of cooled fruit and cream, custard or yogourt, and churn until frozen. Transfer to a plastic container with a lid and put into the freezer to finish freezing.
Churning of Sorbet. Use the above method but replace the cream with cooled water.
If you wish to add a few chilled, dried sweetened fruits, such as cherries, blueberries, cranberries, ginger etc., to the finished product, add them just before the end of the churning period. Sweetened or glace fruits have a better texture when frozen.
If you want to be really naughty, you can add grated or broken pieces of good qualitydark chocolate, or fudge, or cut-up pieces of marshmallow, or half glacé cherries, orchocolate buttons, or yoghourt coated fruit pieces, towards the end of the churning period or they will disappear in the churning process.
It is also possible to add a small quantity of spirits, say 2 Tablespoons, but remember that alcohol lowers the freezing point of a liquid, thus making it more difficult to freeze.
A teaspoon of lemon juice and a grind of pepper, can be added to Strawberry Ice cream, to improve the flavour, otherwise it can be a bit bland.