Today a friend told me they’re starting to get red currants in their fruit CSA and they’re looking for things to do with them. Just the kick in the butt I needed to finally post this recipe. I made it up two summers ago, when I had access to tons of red currants and had finally gotten my fill of eating them fresh.
Red currants are traditionally used for making a clear jelly, but jellies don’t really do it for me–I like my spreads to have more texture. I don’t have this problem with ice cream, however. An ice cream with a swirl of red currant sounded particularly delicious.
Under special request from his mom, my husband had just made Melissa Clark’s Rhubarb Ice Cream with a Caramel Swirl. I’m a sucker for the unadorned, slightly tart taste of plain-dairy-flavored ice creams (sweet cream, yogurt, buttermilk, creme fraiche…), so I was completely taken with the sour cream ice cream base of Melissa Clark’s recipe. I promptly nicked it, added a ribbon of red currants mashed with sugar, and my favorite way to use up red currants was born.
Red Currant Ribbon (sour cream ice cream with a red currant swirl)
Adapted from the ice cream base of Melissa Clark’s Rhubarb Ice Cream with a Caramel Swirl
If you don’t have fresh red currants, you could use pretty much any other berry in their place. I imagine raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries would be delicious.
- 1 and 1/2 cups whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Pinch of Kosher or sea salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 and 1/2 cups sour cream
- 1/2 cup red currants (you can use more, probably about up to 1 cup, if you have them)
- Extra sugar to taste
- 1. In a thick-bottomed pot over medium heat, whisk the milk, 3/4 cup sugar, salt, and vanilla bean seeds and pod (or vanilla extract). Simmer gently until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.
- 2. Remove from heat, cover, and steep 30 minutes. Take out the vanilla pod if using (you can dry it and use it to flavor sugar, or steep it in vodka for several weeks to months to make homemade vanilla extract). Return mixture to just barely a simmer.
- 3. Put the yolks in a large bowl and beat them lightly. Slowly whisk in the hot milk mixture to make a custard.
- 4. Pour the custard back into the pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.
- 5. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. (If your custard is not visibly lumpy and you are impatient like me, you may skip this.) Whisk in sour cream. Chill at least 3 hours or overnight.
- 6. Mash red currants with sugar to taste (sweeten it a little more than you would otherwise, because when it’s frozen it will taste less sweet). Chill at least 3 hours or overnight.
- 7. Churn the custard in an ice cream maker according to the machine’s instructions. When the ice cream looks like it’s a hair’s breadth away from done, pour in the red currant mixture while the machine is running. Turn off the machine after a second or two, so that the red currant mixture is swirled into the ice cream but the swirl remains distinct.
- 8. Pack the ice cream into containers and store in freezer.