Editors' Picks

Blueberry Ice Cream

August 17, 2010

Blueberry Ice Cream

- Merrill

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.

Shop the Story

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.

Order now

A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

Order now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • hennef7
  • Maureenoz
  • parisienne
  • likestocooklovestoeat
  • tynitown
Food52 (we cook 52 weeks a year, get it?) is a food and home brand, here to help you eat thoughtfully and live joyfully.


hennef7 August 31, 2010

Huckleberries look like very small blueberries and they grow wild on Mt. Hood out here. Here's the Wiki description:
Merrill S. September 1, 2010
Thanks for the link! I'll have to try them next time I'm in the Pacific Northwest.
hennef7 August 24, 2010
In Oregon, the wild blueberries are called "Huckleberries" (or is it a different variety?). They're pretty dang good too!
Merrill S. August 31, 2010
I always thought huckleberries were more like blackberries. Or am I wrong?
Maureenoz August 23, 2010
I am SO jonesing for Maine blueberries. I grew up in Maine and picked many flats of blueberries as a kid. I'm going to make blueberry ice cream from the other variety and while it won't be the same, I'll have a bit of Downeast memories Down Under.

I always eat American food when I get homesick. :)

Thanks for the recipe!
Merrill S. August 31, 2010
You're welcome!
parisienne August 22, 2010
As for the sugar is the amount given necessary. I would prefer very little sugar.
Or indeed none at all.
Merrill S. August 31, 2010
You could certainly add less -- I don't like my ice cream to be too sweet either. Depends on the sweetness of the berries, really.
likestocooklovestoeat August 21, 2010
Merrill, this was delicious; thanks for a great recipe and I hope your wedding is lovely and fun!
Merrill S. August 31, 2010
You're welcome, and thanks so much!
tynitown August 20, 2010
Well, it turned out pretty tasty! It's a bit like a frozen smoothie rather than ice cream though. I left the completed mix with berries in the fridge while at work and when I came home the water from the berries had separated. I re-blended and it froze okay in the ice cream maker. I think next time I'd cook this how I'm accustomed to making ice cream - I'd add all the milk mix into the mixer while continuously mixing on low, this would cool it off for a minute. I'd then transfer the entire mix back to the pan to cook to 180, or more importantly (to me) to when the custard thickens and coats to the back of the spoon. That's how you get that creamy consistency. I also might put the berries through a sieve as pieces of skin collected on the blade of the ice cream maker.

But you can be sure I will devour this whole quart!
Merrill S. August 31, 2010
Thanks for all your tips -- mine is the lazy version! :)
A C. August 19, 2010
The ice cream looks luscious. I am surprised that it wasn't gritty. I find that I have gritty ice cream when I don't put the berries through a sieve. The recipe is decadent!
Merrill S. August 31, 2010
Thanks! Glad you liked it.
cheese1227 August 18, 2010
I made this and it tastes wonderful. But it is a little grainy. Any ideas on what I may have done wrong?
tynitown August 18, 2010
I am in the middle of making this now and it's concerning to me that it was almost instantly 180 once I put the thinned yolks in the pot. Every ice cream recipe I've made has to spend time on the stove thickening and it takes quite a bit of time. We'll see what happens when it cools, I belnd in the blueberries and finally get it in the ice cream maker. But it might be grainy (icy) because it didn't thicken properly.
cheese1227 August 19, 2010
Yes, I agree. It was a matter of a minute after the yolks werre blended in that I hit the 180 mark too.
Merrill S. August 31, 2010
Sorry so late weighing in here! I think the ice cream is a bit grainy because of the water in the raw blueberries. If you prefer a smoother texture, you could cook the blueberries down first with a little of the sugar, until they start to get syrupy. Then chill this and stir it into the chilled custard before churning.
Merrill S. August 31, 2010
And no, it's not supposed to be a really thick custard like many other ice cream recipes -- the temp should hit 180 pretty quickly after you add the egg.
The D. August 17, 2010
Wow, this looks really good. I just made a giant blueberry pie with local blueberries from Quebec (not that far from Maine) and it was incredible.
Merrill S. August 18, 2010
thirschfeld August 17, 2010
I absolutely agree with you about Maine blueberries until this year. I stumbled onto a variety called Brigitta and although not as tart has the essence of blueberry flavor. These were grown along the coast of Lake Michigan so maybe it has something to do with cool breezes and water, although the cultivars are Austrailian. Then again maybe I was just craving good blueberries.
Merrill S. August 18, 2010
How interesting! I'll have to try them sometime when I'm in the area. Thanks for the tip!
mklug August 17, 2010
We've spent a few (not enough) summers in Maine and there is nothing better than waking up to an unseasonably chilly morning on the coast and then spending the rest of the warming day stuffing one's self with wild blueberries. Nothing like it in the world!
Merrill S. August 18, 2010
So true!
dbradley August 17, 2010
Is there any science behind heating the dairy to 175 apart from the efficiency of bringing it close to the final temperature so that you spend less time cooking once the eggs have gone in?
Merrill S. August 18, 2010
I really don't know, but your reasoning sounds good to me!
Midge August 17, 2010
I practically did a little jig when I found wild blueberries at Whole Foods last week. Now I really have to invest in an ice cream maker!
Sagegreen August 17, 2010
Me, too: I just ordered one!
Merrill S. August 18, 2010
So worth it.
tynitown August 18, 2010
I HIGHLY recommend the ice cream maker attachment for your KitchenAid stand mixer. Just keep it in the freezer and pop it out whenever you want to make some! Takes up little space and does a great job.
Sagegreen August 18, 2010
I ordered the ice cream maker attachment for my new KitchenAid stand mixer! Can't wait to get it.
Midge August 19, 2010
That's great to know tynitown. I was thinking of doing just that, Sagegreen. Look forward to seeing some of your ice cream creations here.
NakedBeet August 17, 2010
Having received a gift of wild blueberry jam from a client every year for the last few years, I know how you feel about these special ones. And this looks delicious. Happy wedding and congrats!
Merrill S. August 18, 2010
mrslarkin August 17, 2010
Thanks for recipe merrill! Memories of munching on warm wild blues on hikes in Acadia last summer...
Merrill S. August 18, 2010
You're welcome! Nothing like eating berries straight from the bush...
Sagegreen August 17, 2010
The low bush blueberries are the best, I agree! Hope you have incorporated some in your wedding menu. Thanks for sharing this during your special week. We look forward to hearing more later.
Merrill S. August 18, 2010
Yes, indeed I have! There will be blueberries in the cake.