I went to Sam’s a week or two ago with my mother-in-law and Cullen, so we could check out various things (food, storage buildings and the compost bin we brought home, but anyway). She and I got in a conversation over food in the produce section (Cullen was elsewhere at the time), specifically how she’s trying to introduce herself to more produce. She really likes fruits and veggies; she just doesn’t have a habit of eating a whole lot of them at any given time, and they have a tendency to go bad before she gets around to a craving again. We picked up a yellow honeydew out of curiosity and a 3-pound unit of ripening kiwis to split. She even showed me how to peel a kiwi, which was not at all like I have done before (and of course, much easier).
Now, to be honest, I like kiwis, but they’re not high on my list of fruits that I can’t stand to live without. Apples, white grapes, melons, mandarin slices, mostly any berry (especially blackberries) are about the extent of my list. Oranges never held much appeal for me (too much work), and I don’t eat lemons or limes for their own qualities. Mangoes are good, but expensive; never tried a papaya; bananas are an if-I-have-to fruit; pineapples are okay; melons are extremely seasonal (though I love them); scuppernongs and muscadines are something I think you just have to have a taste for; and I absolutely hate grapefruit. Maybe I’m more sheltered in the world of fruit than I thought.
So, for the mother-in-law and myself, I decided on coming home that I would make something that was less “Kiwi: Plain and Not So Tall,” but something that both of us enjoy: ice cream. I’m all about some weird ice cream flavors, and I want to be more about some weird fruit flavors, so I figured I’d start with something I was familiar with in both departments. Therefore, kiwi.
Looking for a recipe and not desiring to separate eggs and waste egg whites, I finally came on Sandy’s strawberry gelato recipe on her blog, Eat Real. Sandy hasn’t failed me yet; this recipe was no different. I’ve never made an ice cream without eggs, but this one was quite simple and really forgiving. Cream, milk, sugar, a little cornstarch – simmer, cool, add fruit and churn. Simple, easy, forgiving.
Both of these ice creams were a learning experience. The kiwi turned out to be the loveliest pale green (which I’m not sure the pictures do justice). It definitely tasted just like a kiwi – which, I suppose it would – but this batch had a slightly off-flavor that lingered if not eaten “properly.” And by that, I mean keeping the ice cream at the front or the middle of the tongue, not the back where the bitter sensor tastebuds are. I’m assuming that bitter aftertaste was due to pureeing the kiwifruit, as opposed to mashing it with a pastry cutter or a masher, and consequently blending the seeds as well as the meat. Also, because I rushed this one in my excitement, I didn’t simmer the base nearly as long as I probably should have, being used to egg recipes where you don’t want to overcook the base. Here, you should simmer it for 1-2 minutes over medium heat, uncovered, to get the cornstarch to thicken properly, without leaving the tell-tale film. Eating more than a few spoonfuls of this at a time left a noticeable film on the upper palate and tongue that took several minutes to wash away. Despite all this, I still loved the flavor of the kiwi. Eaten correctly, it was a flash of sour, then sweet, then mellow, all shadowed by that earthiness that you smell when the kiwi is still whole in its skin.
The mango was a slightly different story – a learning experience all its own, though using what I’d learned from the kiwis. My mango, diced already to save it from going bad, wasn’t quite enough to fulfill the recipe requirements. I did the best with a cup less than required and it still turned out well. I simmered the base longer than the last batch to get out the cornstarchy film, which worked as I’d hoped. I pureed the mango with an immersion blender, just to see what kind of texture I’d get. I didn’t strain it, and maybe in hindsight should have – I’d forgotten about how secretly fibrous a mango could be! The color was extremely pale, almost unnoticeable, but what else could I expect out of a cup and a half instead of two and a half? The finished product was creamy, earthy and delicious, pale orange not withstanding. I hardly noticed the fibers in devouring the ice cream for breakfast yesterday. :)
Check out Sandy’s recipe for strawberry gelato, now that the weather’s warming up and it’s getting into ice cream season. Although, in my opinion, every season is ice cream season. Even if it’s still cold and unpleasant where you are, make up a batch of exotic ice cream, plop down on the couch in a blanket and imagine yourself on the beach with your tropical treat. You might just have to throw that blanket off and dance in the sun.