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Getting Creative with Cucumbers

Hi folks! I am so happy that our heat wave has finally broken. It has been miserable here! Given the weather (and my pregnancy…have we mentioned that?), I’ve been eating a LOT of ice cream. A LOT of ice cream. But not nearly enough to make me sick of it, unfortunately. In an attempt to avoid strange ingredients and unnatural dyes (green mint chocolate chip, anyone?), I’ve been making a lot of it at home. It’s really not all that difficult, but it does take a little planning if you’re planning to use eggs, since they have to be cooked and then cooled. I’ve been making a basic base and then adding whatever looks good at the farmer’s market or bits we’ve got hanging around in the pantry.

The most recent batch, cucumber, sounds wacky, but really works, in my humble (and admittedly possibly skewed) opinion, was inspired by two events. First, a fantastic dinner we had with some friends in Paris last month that was capped off by a sort of sundae with cucumber ice cream, strawberries, and crumbled meringue. We were all a little hesitant at first, but the combo really worked. Second, a crisper full of cucumbers on Wednesday night, less than 24 hours before our weekly CSA pick up. With refrigerator space at a premium, they had to go. I think it’s delicious just as it is, but Erik prefers some accoutrements so he can forget he’s eating vegetable ice cream. Either way, it’s not terribly difficult and it’s something different to try at least once!

I’m really sorry for the equipment heavy recipe this time. If you don’t have a juicer, you could just blend or food process the cucumbers. Either use the mush directly in the ice cream or strain it either through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. I don’t have a tried and true method for freezing the ice cream without a machine, but I’ve seen a couple of methods on the internet, so it’s worth a try. Alternately, I think you could use the base in ice pop molds, perhaps with a few chopped up strawberries.

I didn’t take any pictures of the process, because I thought it was a weird pregnancy thing and wouldn’t be worth posting. Here’s a bad cell phone photo of of the ice cream with a tasty piece of blueberry walnut cake. Mmmmmm!

Cucumber ice cream with blueberry walnut cake



Cucumber Ice Cream

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
Note: Ice cream base needs to chill overnight (or 8 hours).

Amount Ingredient Preparation Notes
2 cups Whole milk Shaw Farm
1 cup Cream Shaw Farm
4 Egg yolks Red Fire Farm
1/2 cup Sugar
Pinch Salt
1 cup Cucumber juice See intro for alternatives Red Fire Farm
Juice of 1 Lemon About 3 TBsp

Directions

  1. Pour the milk and cream into a small saucepan and heat over medium until it starts to steam and tiny bubbles appear on the edges.
  2. While the milk and cream are heating, give the yolks, sugar, and salt a good whisking until they’re lighter yellow.
  3. Once the milk and cream are warm, SLOWLY pour about a cup into the yolk mixture, while whisking. This will warm up the yolks without scrambling them. After that portion of warm milk has been thoroughly incorporated, dump the lot back into the pan and whisk it up.
  4. Heat the milk and yolks over low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. This will take somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes. Make sure to scrape into the corners to avoid burning.
  5. While the base is thickening, get out two large bowls and a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Fill one bowl with ice and set the second inside it.
  6. Once the mixture has thickened, pour it through the sieve or cheesecloth into the second bowl. Straining the base will remove any scrambled bits of egg. Letting it sit over a bowl of ice water will help cool it down faster, so that you can get it into the refrigerator. Stir the mixture every once in a while until it is room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  7. After its overnight chill down, add the cucumber and lemon juice to the base and freeze according to the directions for your machine. Eat as is or top with strawberries and crumbled meringue cookies.

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