Every year about this time, I’m invited to pick Bing cherries at our next door neighbor Pat’s yard. Pat picks all she can freeze and eat for the year, and anything left is for friends or the birds. There is something truly glorious about standing in the shade of a cherry tree ripe with cherries, and picking them and eating them right there on the spot. As kids we would have pit spitting contests to see how far we could make them fly. Do kids even do this any more? They’ve already bred the seeds out of watermelons, I sure hope they don’t breed the pits out of cherries. Call me old fashioned, but I don’t mind working for my food, pits, seeds and all.
To make cherry ice cream, you do have to pit some cherries. Takes about 10 minutes with a paring knife, though I hear it’s a lot faster with a cherry pitter. This recipe calls for regular sweet cherries, which are milder in flavor than their sour cherry cousins, but easier to come by. Because of the mildness, this ice cream benefits from the addition of chocolate, and some berry liqueur.
You can also try making this ice cream with yogurt instead of cream. Heat the cherries, sugar, salt, and milk first. Then let cool. Add 1 3/4 cup of full-fat yogurt and purée. Everything else is the same except no need to add lemon juice.
- 1 1/2 cups pitted ripe sweet cherries (from about 3/4 lb cherries)
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 3/4 cups cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp Amaretto, cherry liqueur, or rum (optional)
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine, keep in freezer until used
1 Put cherries, milk, one cup of the cream, sugar, and salt into a medium saucepan. Heat on medium heat until the mixture is steamy, then lower the heat to warm and just let sit for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Pour mixture into a blender, or use an immersion blender, and carefully purée. (Careful because you are dealing with a hot liquid. Make sure you hold the cap down on the top of the blender while puréeing.)
2 Put mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the remaining 3/4 cup of cream. Chill for several hours in the refrigerator until completely cold. (Can also place bowl over an ice bath, to speed up the cooling process.)
3 Before putting the mixture into your ice cream maker, stir in the lemon juice and the Amaretto or other liqueur if you are using. Note that you can skip the alcohol if you want, but the addition of it will help the ice cream from getting too icy, and the amaretto can add a nice flavor boost to the ice cream. Churn the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
4 Once the ice cream has completed churning, the ice cream should be pretty soft. Gently fold in the finely chopped chocolate. Put in an airtight container and place in the freezer for at least an hour, preferably several hours.