Wild blueberries and black currants in some areas of the state have been abundant lately and my friend Jennifer has been letting me tag along on her foraging expeditions. This season, the black currants have been deeply intense, not too sour, and quite plump. I’ve been adding them into sauces for wild game, to round out salads of burrata, avocado, and thinly-shaved raw artichoke, and to crown custard tarts and Key lime pies. Blueberries somehow disappear by handfuls in my kitchen so trying to wrangle some for a tender almond blueberry cake or my favorite blueberry-cured salmon — recipe kindly shared by Diane Weise from a trip to Cordova a few summers back — hasn’t been easy. But with the promise of a quick ice cream, my family left the latest haul of blueberries — mostly — untouched.
If you’ve been wanting to make ice cream and don’t have a maker or, even if you do have one but don’t want the hassle of feng shui-ing the freezer to make room to chill the bowl ahead of time or you just want a quick and easy route to a creamy frozen treat, a no-churn option might be the way to go. Whipping cream to stiff peaks gives lift and air and emulates the work of an ice cream maker; sweetened condensed milk adds the sugar and dairy without added water often present in other dairy bases, which can cause ice crystals/shards in lieu of a creamy texture. If you’d prefer a true no-cook, no-churn, just make the base using whipped cream and condensed milk and add in your favorite cookies, jams, flavorings, herbs, etc. Once you try this incredibly easy version, you might never go back to the ice cream maker. — Kim Sunée
No-churn blueberry black currant ice cream
3 pints blueberries, or half black currant and half blueberry
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (optional, depending on sweetness of fruit)
1 lemon, juice and zest
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 pint heavy (whipping) cream
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Optional add-ins: fresh chopped lemon verbena or lavender; crushed cookie pieces such as Biscoff, graham cracker, or stroopwafel; a swirl of lemon curd; coarsely-chopped nuts
• Place blueberries in a medium saucepan set over medium heat; depending on ripeness of fruit and if using, add a little bit of sugar (keep in mind the condensed milk adds a lot of sweetness), lemon juice and zest, and salt. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, smashing berries with the back of a large spoon or potato masher. Transfer to a bowl and chill in fridge. Can be made ahead and kept, covered, chilled in fridge.
• Line a 9-x-5-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap leaving an overhang on all sides by about three to four inches and place in freezer. In a large bowl, whip cream on medium-high speed using a handheld mixer (or a stand mixer) until stiff peaks form, about two minutes. Fold in condensed milk until well combined then fold in chilled blueberry purée and any other add-ins. Transfer mixture to the prepared loaf pan, cover with the plastic overhang from lining the pan or with foil and freeze until firm, about two hours for soft-serve style and up to five or six hours for a firmer texture. Serve with more berries or currants, some cookies or favorite granola, or try a sprinkle of flake salt or warm fresh popcorn to counter the sweetness.