This is a Strawberry Ice Cream made with just four ingredients: fresh strawberries, cream, sugar and xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is a wonderful stabiliser which helps thicken the ice cream mixture, creating a lovely body very close to a store-bought one; it also churns beautifully, melts uniformly during serving, and keeps well in the freezer.
Gums, like xanthan gum, carob gum and locust bean gum are used by professionals in ice cream making to stabilise the ice cream mixture. Although there are various gums available on the market which, when used in combination, make for stellar ice cream, the problem is that they can be rather expensive. So instead of buying and storing 2-3 different kinds of gums, you can use one which, even on its own, gives a terrific mouthfeel: xanthan gum.
Why xanthan gum? Well, it is fairly easy to find in specialty stores. It is also the one which works well on its own (no other gums needed); furthermore, you do not need to apply heat to it, which means less cooking over the stovetop.
The flavour of this ice cream is the one you will find in ice cream parlours under the name “Strawberries and Cream”. And you will be happy to find upon making it that this strawberry ice cream bursts with strawberry flavour. Although it is always best to start with fresh, local, in-season strawberries, rest assured that whatever strawberries you use, with this strawberry ice cream recipe you will make the best strawberry flavoured ice cream possible.
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, creating 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 do not know how to explain why this happens, but I can definitely guarantee that this method levels up the flavours of any strawberry you use, even the non-seasonal ones.
When you macerate the strawberries with the sugar, a red syrup will naturally begin forming. This happens because sugar is hydrophilic and it draws the water out of the strawberries. This water in turn gradually melts the sugar and a red syrup forms.
In this recipe we aim NOT to apply any heat to the strawberries, because if we cook them, this will result in an unwanted jam-like flavour in the final ice cream. But we do want to boil out some of their water, because by reducing it, we intensify the strawberry flavour of the ice cream. Thanks to the formation of the syrup, we can boil out the water from the syrup itself: after we remove the strawberries with a slotted spoon from the syrup, we boil the syrup over the stovetop for 5 minutes. This boils out part of the water and the reduced syrup is then added to the uncooked strawberries. This is the way to have it all: perfect fresh strawberry flavour AND intense strawberry flavour.
When using xanthan gum for ice cream making, you need to bring the ice cream mixture to the right temperature (around 40ºC/104ºF) before adding the gum. This is the ideal temperature for the gum to dissolve effectively without clumping.
While it is good to have a thermometer, it is only natural that you may not have one at home. For this reason I have developed a very simple method, which uses the laws of physics to guarantee that you bring the liquid to the right temperature before adding the gum.
How does it work? By combining the right quantities of two liquids which are at standard temperatures, we bring the final liquid to the temperature we want. Standard temperatures are the temperatures which are more or less the same at our home. These are:
In the recipe you will be asked to leave the strawberries to macerate in the sugar for 2-3 hours at room temperature. During this time, the sugar will dissolve and a red syrup will form. Then you remove the strawberries (which by now are at room temperature anyway) and put them in the blender. You pour the red syrup into a saucepan and boil it to reduce it, as instructed in the recipe. When the syrup is ready, you immediately pour it in the blender, along with the strawberries and blend. By blending the room temperature strawberries with the boiling hot syrup, the mixture reaches around 45ºC/113ºF. This is the perfect temperature to sprinkle in the xanthan gum, blend for two minutes and you are set. This works precisely, every time, and it is the easiest way to use xanthan gum, without any hassle and thermometers.
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.
This is what you will need:
Every single ingredient plays a vital role in the recipe. Ice creams are all about using the right ingredients, in the right quantities. Do not play around increasing/decreasing one ingredient or trying to use low-fat versions of dairy and sweeteners, such as stevia/other decreased-calorie sugars. Look out for these:
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 significant loss of quantity, especially in liquids.
If using cups to measure the ingredients, make sure that you thoroughly scrape the cup after measuring each ingredient.
Use fresh, juicy, in season strawberries. The taste of this strawberry ice cream will be determined by the test of the strawberries. So, if you want a fragrant, wonderful ice cream, so should yopur 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 35-40% fat percentage. It should be of pourable consistency. Do not use lower fat versions. Do not use any kind of non-dairy 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:
To make the heavy cream, put the double cream in a bowl, then pour in the milk, a little at a time, stirring smoothly with a rubber spatula until just incorporated. You need the cream to be smooth and preferably with a pourable consistency. Resist the urge to whisk, as it may turn into whipped cream.
This will make a “heavy cream” with around 35% fat, perfect for this strawberry ice cream. Proceed with the recipe, just as if you had the 500 gr (17.6 oz.) heavy cream needed.
It can be found in specialty shops, health food stores and online. It should contain only xanthan gum and no additional ingredients.
A flexible rubber spatula is useful for scraping residues which would be otherwise left behind in bowls, saucepans etc. Those residues may seem minor, but they are important for the balance of the recipe. So get a rubber spatula and scrape each time you change an utensil.
If you do not have one, I strongly encourage you to buy one, preferably a flexible one.
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.
Slice the strawberries: with a sharp knife, cut the strawberries (500 gr; 17.6 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.
When you cut the strawberries, make your best effort to cut into clean, neat slices/pieces. We aim to cut the strawberries without damaging/smashing their flesh.
During maceration with the sugar, the sugar will draw water out of the strawberries; this water will make the sugar melt and a nice, transparent strawberry syrup will form.
If the strawberry slices are damaged during cutting, the syrup formed will also have smashed flesh of the strawberries, in the form of strawberry pulp. These are solids which will slow down the process of sugar melting; they will also make it more difficult to know if the sugar has fully dissolved.
Using a sharp serrated knife is the best way to ensure that the strawberries are cut into neat pieces. In any case, resist the urge to use a multi-processor to chop the strawberries before macerating them, as this will smash their flesh instead of cutting it.
Mix the strawberries with the sugar: in a large bowl put the strawberry slices (500 gr; 17.6 oz.) and add the sugar (185 gr; 6.5 oz.; 3/4 cup & 1 Tbs.). 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. 3/4 cup & 1 Tbs.
Macerate the strawberries: leave the strawberries to macerate at room temperature for 2-3 hours, stirring with the spatula occasionally (3-4 times are just fine) 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.
Check if all the sugar has melted and a red syrup, enough to cover the strawberries has formed: after 2-3 hours, check the bottom of the bowl to see if there are undissolved sugar crystals. If all the sugar has dissolved, proceed to the next step. If there are undissolved sugar crystals remaining, give a thorough stir with the spatula and they will most likely dissolve. If they don’t, leave the mixture at room temperature and check again after 30 minutes. It is ok to leave the bowl with the strawberries at room temperature for up to 6-8 hours.
Remove the strawberries with a slotted spoon from their syrup and put them in a blender (or a large bowl, if you use a stick blender). No need to blend them now. The syrup which is left after removing the strawberries, should be around 150 ml/gr; 5.3 oz, you can weigh it when you pour it into the saucepan to check the quantity.
If the syrup which is left after removing the strawberries is much less than 150 gr/ml; 5.3 oz. (by “much less” we mean it is less than 100 gr/ml; 5.3 oz.) just bring it quickly to a boil over medium-high heat and pour it over the blended strawberries, without further reducing it. If you try to reduce it, it will most likely burn.
If, on the other hand, the syrup is more than 150 ml/gr; 5.3 oz., it is perfectly fine, you can proceed with the recipe as described below.
Boil down the syrup: pour the syrup into the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As soon as the first bubbles appear on its surface, turn on the timer and leave to boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula. Pay attention to the appearance of large bubbles on the surface or if the syrup takes a darker, brownish hue, in which case you should remove from the heat earlier, otherwise the syrup will burn.
Alternatively, you can weigh the saucepan with the syrup and boil the syrup until it is reduced by 50 gr (1.7 oz.) of water.
When you boil the syrup, set a timer to avoid boiling it for too long. Boiling causes water to evaporate; and if we let the syrup boil for too long, the loss of water will disturb the balance of the recipe. The result? You may end up with a sloppy liquid vs. a fluffy ice cream after churning, as the ratio of the sugar in the final ice cream mixture will be more than it should.
Do not worry about it too much, though; just use a medium saucepan (a large one will make the water evaporate more quickly) and set a timer as soon as you see the first bubbles appearing on the surface.
Pour the boiling syrup in the cream: when the timer buzzes, turn the blender on and remove the syrup from the heat; while the strawberries are blending, slowly start pouring the hot syrup into the blender with the strawberries. Warning: do not exceed the recommended blender’s quantity for hot liquids or the mixture may expand, causing the hot syrup to split and cause severe burns.
Blend for 1 minute, until no chunks of strawberries remain.
Add the xanthan gum and blend: with the blender running at low speed, slowly sprinkle the xanthan gum (1 tsp.) over it. Set a timer and let it blend for 2 minutes. Do not shortcut, xanthan gum needs to be blended for 2 whole minutes to fully hydrate.
Add the cream: with the blender on, pour the cold cream in the strawberries and blend until an homogeneous pink colour is obtained. If needed, stop the blender and scrape down its sides with a rubber spatula, then blend again until fully combined.
Pour the ice cream mixture into a bowl (or you can store it in the blender jar, if you like).
Personally, I prefer the slow method, as during the refrigeration process the ice cream mixture matures and the flavours improve. However, most people do not notice this flavour improvement, 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 ice cream bag.
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.
Check the ice cream mixture whether it is thoroughly chilled, before churning: it should feel fridge-cold to the touch (or if you have an instant-read thermometer, it should read 4ºC–8ºC / 39ºF-46ºF).
Prepare the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Churn: With the machine running, pour the chilled ice cream mixture through the canister and into the ice cream maker and 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.
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 strawberry ice cream) from the ice cream machine, cover with a lid and put it in the freezer to set. Setting time depends on your ice cream maker; see notes below for indicative times.
After this, you can serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl or transfer it to an airtight container for longer storing.
This can take :
Note: the times given are indicative, actual times may vary depending on many factors, so do check it every one hour or two, while it sits in the freezer. For example, with my Cuisinart ice cream maker, it takes one hour for the ice cream to set, whereas with the Krups ice cream maker it takes 3 hours.
To evaluate if the ice cream has properly set, insert a knife into it, all the way to the bottom:
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 :
(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: in the freezer for one month, covered well to protect it from absorbing the freezer’s smells.
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.