The Sweetest Crumb

A Regional Canadian Food: Saskatoon Berry Ice Cream

Happy Sunday, friends!

As today is the 7th, its time for my monthly post as part of the Canadian Food Experience Project. For those of you who read last month’s topic… you will recall it was all about the past with recollections of first authentic Canadian food memories. The challenge for July was to explore a regional Canadian food.

For those of you who are new to the Canadian Food Experience Project, the project began on June 7, 2013 and involves a collection of monthly articles written by food bloggers, writers and enthusiasts on pre-determined Canadian food topics. The project aims to help us explore and share our Canadian food identity.

When I was thinking about what regional foods or ingredients I would work with for the challenge, the Saskatoon berry just seemed like an obvious choice. These sweet berries are native to the prairies (along with British Columbia and some of the Northern United States), having been used by Native Americans for food and medicinal purposes centuries ago. While they can be easily mistaken for blueberries in appearance, Saskatoon berries have a fairly different flavour – still sweet like the blueberry, they also have a bit of tartness and a drier, less juicy feel. We can’t generally buy these berries at nearby grocery stores, but they are locally available in the wild or can be harvested at local U-Picks. It is definitely not uncommon to see Saskatoon berries used in pies or tarts in Alberta and, to me, they are a perfect representation of regional cuisine.

While Saskatoon pie is delicious, and I would never turn down a slice, I wanted to make something a bit different to showcase the flavour of this regional berry. I pulled out the ice cream machine and a few hours later we had Saskatoon berry ice cream!

The ice cream recipe was inspired by a few of the recipes in The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz – this man in amazing and I love to live vicariously through his food adventures.

Also, I know that not everyone has an ice cream maker just sitting around at home, but to be honest, a simple, quality machine can be purchased at a reasonable price and is a great investment if you’re looking to make frozen desserts at home. Ours is by no means fancy, but it does the job, churns the ice cream and yields delicious creamy desserts. (I dream of one day upgrading to a professional machine.) The recipe for the ice cream itself was quite simple. The most frustrating and time consuming part was straining the berry puree through a fine sieve to make sure our ice cream was as smooth as possible. While this is by no means necessary, you won’t regret spending the extra time straining the puree when you’re enjoying flawlessly smooth and creamy scoops of ice cream. In terms of taste, I couldn’t have been happier with this ice cream. The Saskatoon berry flavour came through really well and the bright, natural colour was a plus.

Some additional tips to keep in mind:

  • If you haven’t made ice cream before, make sure to read through the steps carefully. It may help to have your ice bath ready when you are making the ice cream.
  • Make sure to chill your cream mixture in the refrigerator thoroughly before churning. This will help create the creamy taste we love so much in ice cream.
  • As with most homemade ice creams, this dessert was very rich and you really need only a small scoop or two to be satisfied – so good.
  • The dimensions below will yield more berry puree than you will require for the ice cream. You can use the remaining puree in smoothies or add to pancake batter for a regionally-inspired breakfast. Enjoy!

Saskatoon Berry Ice Cream

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By Genia Rodnyansky Published: July 7, 2013

  • Yield: 1.5 quart

Happy Sunday, friends! As today is the 7th, its time for my monthly post as part of the Canadian Food Experience Project. For those …

Ingredients

  • 6 cups Saskatoon berries fresh or frozen
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 egg yolks large
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed

Instructions

  1. Combine the Saskatoon berries and 3/4 cups sugar in a large saucepan. Add a splash of water and cook over low-medium heat for about 15 minutes or until berries are breaking up and soft. You can assist the process by stirring with a wooden spoon and breaking up the berries against the side of the saucepan. If the mixture becomes too thick, you can add a bit more water but be careful not to dilute the flavourful puree too much.
  2. Once cooked, transfer the puree to a blender and blend until smooth. Then strain the mixture through a fine, mesh strainer. Reserve 1.5 cups of the strained puree. The rest can be set aside for other uses.
  3. Pour the whipping cream into a large bowl and place a strainer over top. Set aside.
  4. Warm the half and half and the 1/2 cups of sugar in a medium saucepan.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly add the warmed half and half mixture to the egg yolks, adding a little at a time and whisking constantly until fully incorporated. This will allow the eggs to temper and not cook. Return this mixture back to the saucepan.
  6. Cook the mixture over low-medium heat, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan as you cook. Cook the mixture until it thickens to a custard consistency and coats the back of your spoon.
  7. Pour the thickened mixture through the sieve, into the prepared whipping cream. Add in the Saskatoon berry puree and the lemon juice. Stir to combine and transfer to an ice bath to chill, stirring occasionally.
  8. Once chilled in the ice bath, refrigerate the mixture for at least 4 hours or overnight before churning in your ice cream machine. Churn the mixture according to your ice cream machine instructions. Enjoy after churning or package for a bit of time in the freezer before enjoying.

    2 comments on A Regional Canadian Food: Saskatoon Berry Ice Cream

    1. A Canadian Foodie
      July 16, 2013 at 7:09 pm (466 days ago)

      Made my version in a very similar fashion last year, Genia, and it looked nothing like this. The flavour was also very subtle. I will take a leap of faith this year, and try your recipe… I need to compare it to mine, as it looks similar. I would LOVE to have my Saskatoon ice cream as vibrant and berry-ilicious! Great post!
      :)
      Valerie

      Reply
      • Genia Rodnyansky
        July 23, 2013 at 2:49 pm (459 days ago)

        Thanks, Valerie! I took a look at your Saskatoon ice cream post and your berry puree is much lighter in colour than mine was. Mine was almost black and very thick – I used only a splash of water when cooking the berries. The more concentrated puree must have resulted in a stronger colour and flavour. Either way, I’m positive your ice cream was delicious!

        Reply

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