Damson ice cream – a great way to add colour to your dessert

Damson ice cream

Damson ice cream - Credit: Photography Simon Wheeler

Damson ice cream: A delectable way to use the autumn harvest

River Cottage logo

River Cottage logo - Credit: River Cottage

With fruit harvests being gathered in, you may want to find different ways of preserving fruit for the winter months.

Here we have a delicious way of making excellent use of some of the damson harvest.

Serves 8

For the damson purée

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500g damsons

50g sugar

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For the custard

200ml whole milk

300ml double cream

4 large free-range egg yolks

125g caster sugar

To make the damson purée, put the damsons into a saucepan with 2 tablespoons water and the 50g sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook gently, stirring regularly, for 8-10 minutes until the fruit has broken down completely and the stones are coming free. Rub the damsons through a sieve into a bowl to give a smooth purée. Leave to cool and then chill.

To make the custard, pour the milk and cream into a saucepan. Heat the mixture to just below boiling, then leave to cool a little. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl, then pour on the hot milk and cream, whisking all the time. Return to the cleaned pan and cook gently, stirring all the time, until the custard thickens. Don't let it boil or it will 'split'. Take off the heat and strain the custard into a clean bowl. Lay a piece of cling film or greaseproof paper over the surface to stop a skin forming. Leave until cold, then chill.

Combine the chilled damson purée and custard, stirring them together until well blended.

Churn the mixture in an ice-cream maker (for this quantity, you'll need one with a 1.5 litre capacity) until soft-set, then transfer to a freezer container and freeze until solid. (Alternatively, freeze in a plastic container for about an hour until solidifying around the sides. Mash the frozen sides into the liquid centre with a fork, and then return to the freezer for another hour. Repeat this at hourly intervals until soft-set and then let the ice cream set solid.)

Transfer the ice cream to the fridge about 30 minutes before serving to soften slightly and make scooping easier. I love to eat this ice cream with a classy biscuit such as shortbread, an almond tuile, or even a brandy snap.

This recipe features in River Cottage Fruit Every Day, written by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, published by Bloomsbury, and available from rivercottage.net.

Photography © Simon Wheeler

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