I had a quart of blackberries from last year, that I needed to use, since this year's berries will be ripe approximately next weekend. I've got the date circled on my calendar. Can't wait.
Anywho. Berries. Frozen berries are great in baking, for making jams and mixed into stuff. Not so great for eating plain. They get a little mushy.
Enter this fine gadget.
... which my brother bought me last Christmas. I love it. When I mentioned that I'd like to have one, I envisioned lots and lots of sorbet and frozen goodness made from fresh seasonal fruit. Or frozen fruit you need to use before you fill your freezer up again. Either way.
It was so delicious. Bangin'. Grown woman licking her bowl. Good.
It comes with a recipe booklet with directions to make basic ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet and frozen custard. But the real fun is playing around and being creative. The flavor combinations are endless. I kept some of the tough "meat" of a whole pineapple I bought a while back in the freezer. I don't have enough to make a full-on pineapple frozen treat, but perhaps something flavored with pineapple. Peach pineapple ginger sorbet, perhaps? This blackberry sorbet actually has a little mint steeped in the simple syrup. It's subtle and DELICIOUS.
The great thing about having your own ice cream machine is that you can control the ingredients. I'm not aware of any ice cream at the grocery store that is rBGH-free and all-natural (besides Ben and Jerry's perhaps??). The first time I made ice cream, I used milk and cream from Homestead Creamery that is free of antibiotics and hormones (not to mention delicious), REAL vanilla extract and turbinado sugar. The result was a twist on classic vanilla ice cream with just a touch of the brown sugar flavor.
There were only a couple draw backs to DIY-ing your own frozen treats. The main thing is that you have to plan ahead a bit. It takes a couple cups of cream to make the ice cream, so you have to make sure you have that much on hand. I didn't try to substitute skim milk, since I don't think that would make a very good end product. And, once you make the liquid mixture, regardless of whether you are making sorbet or ice cream, you need to refrigerate it for a few hours. The base to the ice cream machine needs to be fully frozen before you use it, also. I've been storing mine in the freezer, but it does take up a bit of room. Once the process in the ice cream machine is done, the consistency is kinda like soft serve, so you could eat it right away, or you can finish it off in the freezer for an hour or two. The other thing that was a bit tedious about making the sorbet, was straining out all the seeds from the blackberries once you crush them and cook them down a bit. I have a teeny-tiny mesh strainer, so it took forever. But, I'll just use a bigger strainer or jelly bag next time I make berry sorbet. I need to buy both of those things anyway.
In the end, I think it's worth it to make your own. No weird chemical preservatives or ingredients that are hard to spell. I enjoy thinking up new flavors, and and I almost couldn't wait for it to fully freeze to taste it. I plan on putting this ice cream maker on full tilt now that fresh fruit is coming in season here. And I know I'll always have something to do with the frozen fruit once it comes time to start cleaning out the freezer.