Mary Ann Lienhart Cross
Food & Nutrition
The strawberries are at their peak so now is the time to really enjoy them. I am eating them morning, noon and night time and even for snacks. The local season for the berries is anywhere from two to three weeks, all depending on Mother Nature providing rain. I enjoy strawberries just as they are — like when you are picking them or when you are eating right out of the container. The flavor is the best.
Since June is National Dairy Month how about real vanilla ice cream with fresh sliced berries? For those of you who are willing to do some more food preparation how about making your own ice cream and adding the fresh strawberries toward the end of the process. Just visualize that wonderful soft pink color and all of the pieces of the sweet berries.
So now for some ice cream information: Ice creams are based on carefully cooked well chilled syrups and heavy custards that are added to unwhipped cream. No form of vanilla flavoring can surpass that of vanilla sugar or of the bean itself, steeped in hot syrup. If you are adding sweetened frozen fruits into the cream mixture instead of fresh fruit, it is a good idea to adjust the amount of sugar in the ice cream.
For food safety reasons remember, if you are using eggs in the ice cream mixture, the mixture must be cooked to 165 degrees. You can cook the mixture in a heavy bottomed pan, over a double boiler or in a large glass measuring in cup in the microwave. If you are using the microwave make sure to stir the mixture often.
To increase your success it is most helpful if you make up mixtures for churn-frozen ice creams the day before you freeze to increase the yield and to produce a smoother-textured cream. There are many variables that make for successful ice cream-making. In churn freezing ice cream and ices, fill the container only two-thirds full to permit expansion.
I often receive calls from some of you asking why the mixture you made never got to the ice cream firmness. There are several steps that you can do to increase success. To pack the freezer, allow 4 parts chipped or cracked ice to 1 part coarse rock salt. Pack about one third of the freezer with ice and add layers of salt and ice around the container until the freezer is full. Allow the pack to stand about 3 minutes before you start turning, slowly at first about 40 revolutions a minute, until a slight pull is felt, then triple the speed for 5 or 6 minutes. If any additions such as finely chopped fruits or nuts are to be made, do so at this point. Then repack and taper off the churning to about 80 revolutions a minute for a few minutes more. The ice cream should be ready in 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the quality.
If the ice cream is to be used at once, it should be frozen harder than if you plan to serve it later. Should the interval be two hours or more, packing will firm it. To pack, pour off the salt water in the freezer and wipe off the lid. Remove the dasher carefully; making sure that no salt or water gets into the cream container. Scrape the cream down from the sides of the container. Place a plug or cork in the hole in the lid and replace the lid. Repack the container in the freezer with additional ice and salt, using the same process proportions as before. Cover the freezer with heavy weight material.
Thank you to the special reader of the column who brought a German Chocolate Cake to me to judge. I also took it to a meeting and shared. The participants at the meeting thought the cake was great and told me to encourage the person to for sure enter the contest at the fair. I just wanted to remind you that this offer is open to everyone who would like my office team members to sample and pre-judge your food items before the fair. A thank you to the reader who did and we are hoping that more of you take advantage of this opportunity.
Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross is an Extension educator in consumer family science. Write to her at 17746 E. C.R. 34, Goshen, IN 46528; call 533-0554; fax 533-0254; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.