Have you ever had a black raspberry? Until about ten years ago, I thought they were made up—a way to describe a commercial flavor, like a blue raspberry Jolly Rancher. I know, it’s a little embarrassing. Then a friend gave me a black raspberry plant for my garden. They’re a real fruit? I asked. She laughed. It turns out they’re native to the United States, and incredibly prolific.
A few years into growing black raspberries I did a show on them, and a listener from Falmouth wrote to me. You should be making ice cream! she said. She sent me her recipe, and we’ve been making it every July ever since. Today, the berries are ripe and I’m in the kitchen making a batch of Andrea Thorrold’s black raspberry ice cream with my two girls and our teenage friends.
We go through the ingredients: black raspberries, granulated sugar, lemon, eggs, heavy cream, and milk.
You can use fresh or frozen berries. And we don’t worry about raw eggs in our house, but if you do you can leave them out. The eggs make the texture a little smoother and less crystalized. Now, we’re getting together our ingredients.
You mix the black raspberries, half the sugar, and the lemon juice in a bowl.
We mix together half cup of sugar, the heavy cream, the milk, and the eggs. Now, it’s time to pour in the black raspberry juice, which is a dark, inky purple, almost black. This color comes from an antioxidant the berries are particularly high in called anthocyanin, it’s really good for you and the levels are off the charts high—so high they’re being studied for fighting cancer.
The color is so distinctive and so beautiful—I’d call it mauve or plum. I learned recently that black raspberry juice is also used in making dye for fabric, yarn, and even hair coloring. Once we stir the purple juice into the white cream, we get ready to freeze it.
We pour the mixture in about two thirds of the way up the bowl of the ice cream maker.
The ice cream will take about half an hour to churn. The work of the machine is to aerate the mixture and keep the ice crystals small while it freezes. Most home machines can’t fully freeze ice cream—it’s usually still a bit soupy—but if you can resist eating until a few hours later, you can spoon the ice cream into a container so that it can firm up in the freezer. But for five girls on a hot summer day, it’s too hard to wait.
I ask my helpers how it is. Here’s what I heard:
"Yummy, tastes like heaven!"
"It’s so good."
"Oh my god, mm hmm, it’s so good."
"THE BEST ! THING ! EVER !"
If you didn’t catch that, it’s the best thing ever. Homemade black raspberry ice cream has become the taste of summer at our house. Thanks to Andrea Thorrold of Falmouth for the recipe, and to everyone else—keep your eyes out for black raspberries this week at farmers markets and in the woods.
ANDREA THORROLD'S BLACK RASPBERRY ICE CREAM
Andrea's original recipe called for 1 and 1/2 cups sugar. I cut it down to 1 cup, and she said since typing it up she has too. It has the same distinctive color and flavor of the black raspberry ice cream you get in stores but is so much better for being simple and fresh.
1 pint black raspberries
scant 1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
Mix the black raspberries, half of the sugar, and the lemon juice in a bowl. Put the mixture in the fridge and stir every half hour or so for about 2 hours. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk for about two minutes, then add the remaining sugar and whisk it in. Pour in the cream and milk. Strain the juice from the black raspberry mixture, using a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon to press it through a fine-mesh seive until you've gotten as much of the fruit as possible. Stir the juice into the cream mixture and mix well.
Pour the purple cream into the ice cream maker. If you like the seeds, you can add the remaining black raspberry pulp near the end of the freezing time; if not, go ahead and skip it (I decide batch by batch—both ways are good, but different). Spoon the ice cream into a container and let it set in the freezer for several hours before serving.