Strawberries and Ice Cream

Although I wait in great anticipation for the new arrival of fresh spring fruit every year, I’m nevertheless always mildly surprised when it actually shows up. It’s a little bit like seeing a good friend for the first time after miles and months apart. Today, all of a sudden there are these beautiful precious things, a bright shock of color after the dreary days of winter.

Strawberries are making their first appearance here in California and they are looking great. Their bright color and wonderful aroma send such a strong signal of the coming spring season, it’s impossible not to jump and make a first purchase.

This ice cream is a great way to enjoy some terrific juicy strawberries. They are sweetened and enhanced with a bit of balsamic vinegar and then folded into a tart ice cream base to produce a grand pleasure reminiscent of a simple bowl of strawberries and cream. I think you’ll find this a very enjoyable way to welcome a new crop of gorgeous and glorious fruit. Spring has definitely sprung!

Bench notes:
- Taste your strawberries to gauge their sugar level and then keep tasting as you add sugar.
- Substitute brown sugar in the strawberries if you prefer.
- Since strawberries contain quite a lot of water, if you won't be consuming all the ice cream at once, the strawberries will need quite a lot of sugar and should be pureed to avoid becoming too icy in the freezer.
- If you enjoy balsamic vinegar, you'll love the reserved syrup generously spooned over a bowl of the ice cream. After you've strained out the strawberries, taste for any additional sugar or balsamic.

Strawberries and Cream Ice Cream
Makes about a pint

1 C sour cream
1/2 C buttermilk
1/4 C heavy cream
1/4 C milk
1/2 C sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 t lemon juice

1 pint of fresh ripe strawberries
3 T sugar, to taste
balsamic vinegar, to taste

Whisk all the dairy ingredients together until blended. Add the sugar, pinch of salt and the lemon juice. Chill thoroughly.

Hull and cut strawberries into thin slices and place in a bowl. Toss with sugar and taste for sweetness. Add balsamic vinegar a teaspoon at a time, to taste. Set aside and let macerate for about an hour.

Freeze the ice cream according to your machine’s instructions. Pour into a clean airtight container. Put a piece of plastic wrap on the surface, cover and place in your freezer for an hour or two to firm up a bit.

Drain strawberries in a strainer and reserve the syrup.

When the ice cream is ready, pour about half of it into another container and dollop with strawberry mixture. Repeat and press the strawberries into the surface. Scoop into ice cream dishes and enjoy with a drizzle of strawberry balsamic syrup.