Strawberry Ice Cream | Philadelphia - style

July 2, 2021

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© 2021 Biterkin

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This Strawberry Ice Cream is the simplest strawberry ice cream you can make at home with your ice cream maker. You only need fresh strawberries, cream and sugar. It requires no cooking over the stovetop, which renders it the perfect ice cream to make on a hot summer day. It is so easy to prepare: you just macerate the strawberries with the sugar until the sugar dissolves, then put them in the refrigerator until they are thoroughly cold. Then you blend them with the cold cream and churn with the ice cream maker until fluffy and creamy. 

This will become your go-to ice cream recipe when you are short of time and yet want to make something which everyone will love. Although it makes use of just three ingredients and it is so easy to make, it is surprisingly perfect both for its texture and for its flavour. The simple act of macerating the strawberries in the sugar brings out the best of the strawberries’ flavours, resulting in a strawberry ice cream which bursts with strawberry deliciousness. If you wonder what a Philadelphia-style ice cream is and in what ways it differs from other kinds of ice cream, read all about it below.

for a richer ice cream, try this custard version, made with egg yolks

for a more stable body make this; it is thickened with corn starch

no ice cream maker? make this perfect no-churn ice cream with cream, sugar, egg yolks. 

no vanilla bean? this philadelphia-style uses only vanilla extract

or see all options here

Philadelphia-style Ice Cream is the simplest kind of ice cream you can make at home. 

But why is it different than other kinds of ice cream? In other kinds of ice cream, we thicken the ice cream mixture before churning to create a more stable ice cream body which:

  1. churns flawlessly in the ice cream maker
  2. melts slowly and uniformly during serving; and
  3. keeps well in the freezer for longer.

Thickening the ice cream is usually done by cooking the ice cream mixture with egg yolks or cornstarch (aka cornflour) .

Philadelphia-style ice cream does not require you to thicken the ice cream mixture, so it is the kind of ice cream you can make quickly, using the least number of ingredients possible. In comparison to the thickened versions, it melts faster during serving and it may not keep well in the freezer for too long, but it is still really good and everyone will love it. It will become your go-to ice cream when you are short of time and still want to make a crowd-pleasing ice cream.

The Biterkin tricks for a perfect Philadelphia-style Strawberry Ice Cream:

Here are some tricks used in the making of this strawberry ice cream, which take it to the next level.

If you want a beautiful, intense strawberry flavour in your ice cream, there is only one way to go: cut the strawberries into neat slices and macerate them in sugar for a few hours.

This works like a charm, because the sugar draws out water from the strawberries, which then creates a strawberry syrup. While the strawberries lie in this syrup, they gradually soften, their flavours round up and the strawberries themselves become more aromatic and less acidic.

I am unable to explain the whys behind this, but I can surely guarantee you that the maceration process levels up the flavours of any strawberry you use, even the non-seasonal ones. 

In the recipe you are asked to blend the strawberries with the cold cream just before churning.

Although it would make sense to blend the strawberries with the cream right after the maceration process and while they are still lukewarm, so that we can chill the whole thing and have it ready  for churning, I prefer not to do so, because by leaving the sliced strawberries sitting in their own syrup for as long as possible, their texture becomes softer (which makes their blending smoother) and their flavours improve (they become mellow and aromatic, eliminating even the slightest sense of acidity).

Ok, this might be a no-brainer, but how many times have you been asked in a recipe to blend the whole thing (solid and liquid ingredients), only to be left with chunks of the solids intact?

Blending has its tricks too, and for a smoother result, blend methodically: strain (or fish out with a slotted spoon) the strawberries to separate the solids (strawberry pieces) from the liquid (syrup). Start with blending the solids (strawberry pieces); with the blender on, add just as much syrup as needed to get it going. Leave to blend for one full minute and then gradually add the rest of the syrup, stopping the blender and scraping it with a rubber spatula, if needed. This makes for the smoothest strawberry pulp possible.

Well, the answer is: don’t. Straining removes part of the strawberry pulp along with the seeds. This strawberry pulp is strawberry flavour and it is very much wanted in our final ice cream. It is also needed in the recipe to maintain the perfect balance of sugars in the final ice cream mixture.

If you were to strain the ice cream mixture to remove the strawberry seeds, you would have to alter the proportions of the ingredients. So my advice is to avoid straining in this strawberry ice cream recipe; this ice cream is so delicious that no one will be bothered by the seeds. And in their defence, they do add a natural and homey essence to this homemade strawberry ice cream which everyone will love.

The ingredients:

This is what you will need:

Every single ingredient plays a vital role in the recipe. Ice creams are all about balance, both in terms of ingredients, as well as their quantities. Do not play around changing the proportions of the ingredients or trying to use low-fat versions of dairy and sweeteners, such as stevia/other decreased-calorie sugars. Look out for these: ingredients notes
The recipe at a glance:

This is a quick overview of the recipe. If you are new to ice cream making, do read the recipe before proceeding. 

Strawberry Ice Cream | Philadelphia - style
Ingredients:

For best results, use a scale and measure the ingredients directly into the utensils, when you need them.

Avoid weighing in one utensil and transferring to another, as this causes a small, but important loss of quantity, especially in liquids.

For cup measurements:

If using cups to measure the ingredients, make sure that you thoroughly scrape the cup with a rubber spatula every time you empty it.

Use fresh, juicy, in season strawberries. The taste of this strawberry ice cream will be determined by the taste of the strawberries. So, if you want a fragrant, wonderful ice cream, so should your strawberries be.

Use regular sugar (white granulated sugar).

Do not use sugar substitutes, such as table sweeteners or stevia. Also, do not use confectioner’s sugar, it is not suitable for this recipe. 

Using raw cane sugar, such as Demerara or Turbinado, is not recommended in this strawberry ice cream, as it tends to cover the delicate strawberry flavour.​

Use heavy cream with 35% fat percentage. It should be of pourable consistency. Do not use lower fat versions. Do not use any kind of non-dairy cream. 

For heavy cream with 40% fat, use a combination of cream and whole milk in the following proportions:

  • 425 gr/ml cold heavy cream (15 oz.) (with 40% fat)
  • 75 gr/ml cold whole milk (2.6 oz.) (3.5% fat) 

How to use in this recipe: in step 3, pour the heavy cream and the milk in the blender in step 3 when you are asked to pour in the heavy cream.

If you live in the UK where heavy cream is not available, you can combine double cream and milk to create heavy cream.

For 500 gr (17.6 oz.) heavy cream you will need:

  • 350 gr double cream (12.3 oz.) (with 50% fat)
  • 150 gr/ml regular milk (5.3 oz.) (3.5% fat) *

How to use in this recipe: in step 3, pour the double cream and the milk in the blender in step 3 when you are asked to pour in the heavy cream.

A flexible rubber spatula is useful for:

-wiping the bottom of the saucepan when cooking dairy on the stovetop

-scraping residues which would be otherwise left behind in bowls, saucepans etc.

If you do not have one, I strongly encourage you to buy one, preferably a flexible one.

Instructions

Before starting, make sure that your ice cream maker is ready for churning when needed. This means that if it has a removable freezer bowl, it should be put in the freezer for the whole time indicated by the manufacturer, usually 24 hours.

If you intend to transfer the ice cream to a container to store the ice cream, put this container in the freezer well ahead of time, too; this will prevent the ice cream from melting upon contact with it.

Step 1: Prepare the strawberries
Slice the strawberries: with a sharp knife, cut the strawberries (475 gr; 16.7 oz.) into clean, neat slices. You do not have to worry about cutting them very thin, just slice them to a thickness you feel comfortable working with. Alternatively, you can chop them into pieces. 

Mix the strawberries with the sugar: in a large bowl put the strawberry slices and add the sugar (185 gr; 6.5 oz.; 1 cup). Stir with a rubber spatula, leaving the spatula in the bowl. TIP: aim to keep the upper sides of the bowl clean of sugar, as, if it stays there, it will harden and crystallise. 

Macerate the strawberries: leave the strawberries to macerate at room temperature for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally with the spatula to help the sugar dissolve. Each time you give a stir, scrape the bottom of the bowl, bringing upwards any undissolved sugar and mixing it with the strawberries. TIP: try to avoid anything that will cause loss of sugar from the bowl, like lifting the spatula from the bowl to use it somewhere else. 

Step 2Chill the strawberries

Chill thoroughly: the strawberries should come to fridge-cold temperature, before you blend them with the cold cream and churn the blended mixture with the ice cream maker. To chill, use one of the two methods below (click on methods to read more):

Personally, I prefer the slow method, because the more the strawberries sit in their juices, the softer they become and more mellow their flavours are. However, this improvement is the extra mile, which may not be noticeable to most people, therefore feel free to follow the method which is more convenient to you.
Another thing to consider in choosing the fast method is whether you have enough ice to fully submerge the bag with the strawberries.

When churning with a domestic ice cream maker, your ice cream mixture should always be thoroughly chilled. Otherwise, your ice cream maker may not be able to churn the ice cream to its fullest potential, resulting in a sloppy liquid vs. a fluffy ice cream. This is why we chill the strawberries and the syrup until they are fridge-cold and then we blend them with the cold cream just before churning, so that the resulting blended mixture is thoroughly cold.

Although it would make sense to blend the strawberries with the cream right after the maceration process and while they are still lukewarm, so that we can chill the whole thing and have it ready  for churning, I prefer not to do so, because by leaving the sliced strawberries sitting in their own syrup for as long as possible, their texture becomes softer (which makes their blending smoother) and their flavours improve (they become mellow and aromatic, eliminating even the slightest sense of acidity). This also helps to preserve the bright pink colour in the final ice cream.

Step 3: Blend and churn the ice cream

Check the strawberries whether they are thoroughly chilled, before churning: they should feel fridge-cold to the touch (or if you have an instant-read thermometer, it should read 4ºC–8ºC / 39ºF-46ºF).

Blend the strawberries: remove the strawberries from their syrup with a slotted spoon, put them in a blender and blend them to a smooth pulp, adding just enough strawberry syrup to get things going. When no chunks remain, with the blender on, slowly pour in the rest of the syrup, increase the speed to high and blend for 1 minute. Yes, you can use a stick blender instead of a regular blender, if you like.

Add the cream in the blended strawberries: pour the cold cream (500 gr/ml; 17.6 oz.; 2 cups & 2 Tbs.) in the blender with the strawberries and blend until an homogeneous pink colour is obtained. If needed, stop the blender and scrape down the sides of the blender with a rubber spatula, then blend again until fully combined.

Prepare the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Churn: with the machine running, pour the cold blended strawberry mixture through the canister and into the ice cream maker. 

Leave to churn until fluffed up and creamy; depending on your ice cream maker this can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes; (see below).

This strawberry ice cream will expand and fluff up during churning. It is ready when it looks smooth and fluffy. This could take anywhere from 30-60 minutes, depending on your ice cream maker.

To evaluate if it’s ready, lift a spoonful; it should be thick enough to stand on the spoon, but still be soft like soft-serve ice cream. If, upon lifting some ice cream with the spoon, a pool immediately starts forming on its edges, you will have to churn it for longer. 

In any case, if you feel doubts about the consistency, leave it for ten minutes more. But beware: at this stage, do not expect it to be like store-bought carton ice cream; for now it should be more like soft-serve ice cream. It will firm up and become like store-bought ice cream only after it sets in the freezer. 

So, stop the ice cream maker when it is thick and creamy, as described above. If you leave it for much longer, it will start turning grainy.

Step 4: Put the ice cream in the freezer to set

Put in the freezer to set: before serving the ice cream or removing it to a container for storage, you have to put it in the freezer to set. Remove the removable freezer bowl (still filled with the ice cream) from the ice cream machine, cover with a lid and put it in the freezer to set. Setting time depends highly on the type of ice cream maker you use; see notes below for indicative times.

Serve or store: when it sets, you can serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl or transfer it to an airtight container for longer storing.

The setting time for the ice cream largely depends on the type of ice cream maker you use.

This can take :

  • 3-5 hours for removable freezer bowls (these are the ice cream maker bowls which must be frozen before churning)
  • 1 hour for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

Note: the times given are indicative, actual time may vary depending on many factors, so do check it every one hour or two, while it sits in the freezer. To evaluate if the ice cream has properly set, insert a knife into it, all the way to the bottom:

  • if it is properly set, it will be soft enough for the knife to be inserted into it, and yet have the same consistency from top to bottom
  • if it is not ready yet, it will feel hard on the top and softer as you go down
  • if it is too hard for the knife to insert, you may have left it in the freezer for too long. Do not worry though, read what to do below.

Straight after churning, the ice cream has a soft-serve consistency and melts immediately upon contact with anything. This makes it impossible to serve or transfer to another container.

Putting it directly in the freezer for 4-5 hours after churning, will help it set and reach the right consistency.

Then you can serve it or transfer to a sealable container for longer storing.

If the ice cream stays in the removable freezer bowl for too long, it will harden and will be difficult to remove or serve.

Do not worry though, you can still make it scoopable by leaving it in the refrigerator to soften. This can take :

  • 4-6 hours for removable freezer bowls (these are the ice cream maker bowls which must be frozen before churning)
  • 1 hour for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

(Note: the time given is indicative, actual time may vary depending on many factors, so do check it once in a while while it sits in the refrigerator).

After this, the ice cream will be easy to scoop and transfer to another container; or serve directly from the ice cream maker.

Storage and serving

Storage: in the freezer for one month, covered well to protect it from absorbing the freezer’s smells. 

Scooping: this ice cream, like all artisanal ice creams, freezes hard in the long term. To soften it to a perfectly scoopable consistency, put it in the refrigerator for one hour. 

If you have an instant-read thermometer, the perfect serving temperature of this strawberry ice cream is when the thermometer inserted midway through the ice cream, reads around 11ºC / 52ºF.

Use a rubber spatula: 

A flexible rubber spatula is useful for:

-wiping the bottom of the saucepan when cooking dairy on the stovetop

-scraping residues which would be otherwise left behind in bowls, saucepans etc.

If you do not have one, I strongly encourage you to buy one, preferably a flexible one.

Sugar