Its plum season here in Sonoma County! My Santa Rosa plum tree has provided me with a few bowls of luscious fruit, too many to just eat fresh. Normally when I’m graced with a bounty of fruit, I turn to preserving and making jam, but with these 90 degree days we’ve been having, I sure as hell wasn’t excited to haul out the canning pot. Instead, I decided to take advantage of the harvest and try a different way of preserving, with making homemade plum ice cream (ice cream counts as preserving, right?!)
I used Santa Rosa plums, which are a large red fruit with sweet flesh and a tart skin. I’m sure other plum varieties would be just as delicious! I was inspired by an old recipe cutout that I saved from a Martha Stewart, and added port and cinnamon to my homemade plum ice cream, but I bet ginger and cardamom would also be amazing. There is a lot of flexibility. Brandy could be a good swap for the port. The plums could get mixed with or replaced with other stone fruits.
There are two steps to this homemade ice cream recipe: make the custard, and make the fruit mixture. Either can be made ahead of time by a couple of days. Keep an eye on the heating milk, as it goes from simmer to boiling very quickly. Trust me, cleaning boiled milk out of your stove burner ports sucks. If your custard “breaks”, or curdles, don’t stress. Turn the heat off and transfer to a bowl, then remove the vanilla pod. Use a wooden spoon to smash the curds against the edge, or hit it with an immersion blender (don’t use a food processor or blender- they add to much air). If you’re really concerned, you could press though a fine sieve. If its not perfectly creamy, don’t give up and toss that expensive sugar, eggs and cream, its still completely edible. Making custards can be challenging, mine almost always curd at some point.
My recipe calls for an ice cream maker, but I’m confident you could make it without one. My ice cream maker, a Cuisinart, uses a special frozen bowl to get the cream and such frozen. The bowl is supposed to be frozen solid (there is some mystery goo inside the walls), but I was impatient and made this after the bowl was only in the freezer for a few hours. I still churned it for the instructed 25 minutes, but because the bowl wasn’t frozen, it didn’t actually freeze the ice cream. I put the well mixed mixture into a chilled Pyrex loaf pan in the freezer, and it was perfect the following day. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, just mix the custard and plums well, then place in the chilled pan. Leave overnight. Your texture *might* be slightly more “icy”, but it will still taste great!
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups cream
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 6 large eggs yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- pinch salt
- 1 pound ripe plums, pitted and chopped into 1/2"ish chunks
- 1/3 cup port
- 1/3 cup honey (if your plums are sweet, reduce honey to 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, combine milk and cream. Add the vanilla seeds and the pod. Bring the mixture to a light simmer over medium heat, stirring regularly.
- In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar and salt. Gradually whisk in half the hot milk mixture to the bowl. Add the milk-egg mixture back into the pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (approximately 8 minutes).
- Remove custard from heat, and fish out vanilla pod. Pour custard into a bowl that is set in a larger bowl of ice water. Let cool, stirring occasionally. Cover, refrigerate until cold.
- Combine plums, port, honey and cinnamon in a large skillet, preferably straight sided. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the mixture is syrupy and the plums are soft and falling apart. Remove from heat, and let cool completely.
- Put a loaf pan in the freezer to chill. Fold the plums into the custard. Churn and freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions (mine is for 20-25 minutes). Transfer to the chilled pan, and freeze until hardened, at least 2 hours. Eat or keep frozen for up to 2 weeks!