Strawberry Heaven

In one of my flower beds, I’ve managed to sneak in a few strawberry plants. In fact, most of my flower beds are fast becoming loaded with fruit. So much so, that the Pete Seeger refrain, Where have all the flowers gone?, frequently crops up in my mind when I’m out gardening.

Those strawberries of mine valiantly produce every year, but the birds (or slugs) tend to get to them before me. I think I’ve finally found a solution for guarding them – other than unsightly florescent green netting draped over bamboo stakes. But, meantime, there is a wonderful city farm nearby where you can pick your own. Best of both worlds – farm fresh, but without having to cope with the pest problem.

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Strawberries have a long season here in Britain – running from South to North, from Kent and Sussex and ending with small Scottish strawberries months later. We indulge in strawberry heaven most of the summer.

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No-churn Strawberry Ice Cream with Balsamic Caramel
I have two ice cream makers – the manual churning type – that simply collect dust on the shelf. These require freezing the special churning containers in advance and take up a lot space in the freezer (more space than I usually have). So when I saw this method doing the rounds, it seemed ideal. Pairing strawberries with balsamic is nothing new, but I wanted to try it in as an unusual addition in ice cream.

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick, 2 oz.) butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 250g. (approximately 2 cups) strawberries
  • 1 Tablespoon castor sugar
  • 2-1/2 cups (600ml) double cream
  • 14 oz. (397g.) tin condensed milk

Make your balsamic caramel sauce by melting the butter and brown sugar in a wide pan on medium heat. I used a large frying pan. Once the sugar dissolves and there are no crystals left in the pan, slowly add the 1/4 cup milk. Let the mixture bubble and thicken (about 6 to 7 minutes). Add the vinegar, stir and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Then, remove from heat and add the salt. Let the mixture completely cool.

While waiting for the balsamic caramel to cool, make the ice cream. First, clean, hull and chop your strawberries. Place in a bowl with the castor sugar. Mash with a potato masher and set the strawberries aside.

In a mixer bowl, put the cream and condensed milk. Using a whisk attachment, beat until soft peaks form. Fold in the strawberries and put into a freezer container or a loaf pan. Dot on the balsamic caramel and with a knife, cut into the mixture, drawing the knife back and forth in a zig-zag fashion to distribute the caramel and to break it down into bits.

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Cover with clingfilm directly on the cream, and if there is a lid to the container, put this on as well. Freeze for at least 5 hours. Scoop out and serve with additional strawberries.

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Notes & Evaluation:
The ice cream was nice and creamy – certainly no need to churn. However, next time, I will increase the amount of strawberries in the mix – perhaps even double. The balsamic caramel is a real keeper and added bits of contrasting flavor and texture.

strawberry_cage_newArrived a short while ago: Wire cloches with copper rims for the strawberries.
Pretty and functional!
With more on the way, will I have strawberries this year?

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20 comments

    • The wire cloches are gorgeous, but a little pricey. Hence, one or two at a time – spacing out the cost. Since it is effectively my flower garden, I wanted something nice to look + functional and substantial enough to last for many seasons. Looking forward to a few strawberries in the garden – at long last.

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  1. The strawberries look heavenly, English strawberries are a real treat. I use caramelised balsamic vinegar in dressings but love, love this idea. On my ‘to do list’ very soon…yum. πŸ™‚

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    • The combo was really good. I was surprised by the balsamic caramel – so good! I could have eaten it straight from the pan if it weren’t for fear of ending up with a blistered tongue. I’ll definitely adding more strawberries next time to give it more strawberry flavour and to counter the very creamy nature of the ice cream. Now, caramelised balsamic dressing … now that sounds good.

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  2. We’re very lucky that we can get Australian grown strawberries all year round, though fruit from the southern states available spring to autumn always seem to be sweeter than their northern counterparts. I love them with a sprinkle of sugar and a slosh of cassis. I’ve bookmarked your icecream recipe to try. I have some little people who would love it! Your solution to keeping the critters out of the garden bed is very glam!

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    • I think your little people will love home made ice cream – perhaps even help in the making, as it is so simple. Next time I make it, I intend to bump up the strawberry flavour which got a little lost among all that cream. The wire cloches are really great – easy to plonk down over the strawberries and really does keep the birds away. And so very pretty!

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  3. I love this way to make icecream! And that balsamic caramel sounds amazing. Your copper rimmed wire cloches are genius and look stunning too. You will be harvesting your own this year!

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    • I have been seeing this no-churn technique everywhere and I’m so glad that I tried it. It still needs some tweaking flavour-wise to get a stronger strawberry taste. But, so simple! Those copper rimmed wire cloches were a great find – and as I discovered were given an honourable mention for design at the Chelsea Flower Show. Very swish!

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  4. Oh thank you I have been wanting to experiment with ice cream but resisting getting an ice cream maker for the reasons you mention. This is a perfect technique. I like your strawberry solution, but how big are the cloches? I have been toying with using tomato cages around my strawberries but a) that wouldn’t do the copper for the sluggies and b) my berries have been coming out so small that birds don’t seem to bother with them.

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    • I thought the same re. ice cream solutions. Normal British freezer space in quite limited and mine always seems to be full. The wire cloches are 41cm diameter at the base and just about the same in height. I can squeeze in 3 strawberry plants under each – but I tend to plant things close together. I’ve also seen similar square-shaped cloches made of chicken wire, but they weren’t as pretty. I also use mulch mats under the strawberries to help keep slugs away – a real problem in damp England!

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  5. You grew those strawberries?! very nice! I have two dachshunds who are notorious strawberry thieves…you would need more than that cover to keep them away.
    I did a strawberry balsamic ice cream last summer; I roasted the strawberries in balsamic but balsamic caramel definitely sounds more interesting!

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    • Oh, I wish my strawberries could look like the picture. These are from my local pick your own. Mine are just beginning to form little green fruit, but I am hoping that I will get a few this year (no dachshunds around). The balsamic caramel was really lovely. I wasn’t sure what the vinegar would do, but it really bumped up the flavor. You are right – it pairs very well with strawberries.

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    • The balsamic really adds flavour to the caramel. Next time I might eliminate the salt as I really think the vinegar was enough. I’ve seen the balsamic caramel used separately as an ice cream topping – something also to consider for next time. It’s great tweaking recipes until you get it just right.

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    • The balsamic caramel was really good, but I think next time I will leave out the salt – it was “piquant” enough with just the balsamic. Checked out your link – the chocolate sauce is to die for. Well, I’m a sucker for anything chocolate. πŸ˜‰

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