I'll admit it: I'm a blueberry snob. Having spent the majority of my childhood summers in Maine (where I happen to be at this very moment, in fact, getting ready for my wedding), I tend to regard anything other than a wild Maine blueberry as sub-par, inconsequential -- not worth my time, really. To me, the tiny, dusty blue, low-lying berries that appear in clusters along the Maine coast in late July are little explosions of sweet and tart, each one ten times more flavorful than its bloated, cultivated counterpart.
My absolute favorite way to savor wild Maine blueberries is in a bowl, with a generous dousing of milk (not cream) and the lightest shower of sugar. Heaven. But even I, the blueberry purist, will admit that there are occasions that call for something a little more creative -- like a blueberry pie, blueberry jam (which I actually make every year), or, say, blueberry ice cream. Recently, I took Tammy's recipe for Foolproof Ice Cream and did just what she recommends: I threw in my own "add-in" in the form of fresh blueberries. I can't take credit for the original recipe, which is truly a winner, but I can tell you that if you manage to get your hands on some wild Maine blueberries, this is a great way to use them.
Blueberry Ice Cream
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pint blueberries, washed and picked over
1. Heat the milk and cream in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup of the sugar, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 175 degrees. (Use a candy thermometer -- it's worth being exact here.)
2. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until pale yellow and thick. Slowly pour a small amount of the heated milk-cream-sugar mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Whisk the thinned egg yolks back into the saucepan. Scrape the insides of the vanilla bean into the saucepan, or add the extract.
3. Heat the custard to 180 degrees, stirring constantly (do NOT allow it to boil!). Pour the cooked custard through a fine mesh strainer into a covered container. Chill the custard completely in the fridge and then put it and the the blueberries in a blender. Puree until the berries are broken down and the mixture is violet in color, but a few small shreds of blueberry are still visible. Chill again and then churn according to the instructions for your ice cream maker. Put the ice cream in the freezer in an air-tight container for a couple of hours to harden completely. About 15 minutes, before serving, transfer the ice cream from the freezer to the fridge to soften a little.