For too long, I despised strawberry ice-cream. Probably because it was the cheap kind of strawberry ice-cream that was more food coloring and less strawberry. Growing up in Singapore, we ate mostly Magnolia ice-cream I think (?) and it was not very good.
I probably only had a decent strawberry ice-cream when I had a Haagen-Dazs one. Thanks to the kids who really wanted strawberry flavor. I was surprised that it actually tasted fresh like strawberries and had strawberry pieces in it.
Then again, led by the kids, I tried a homemade strawberry ice-cream at a farm in Watsonville (which makes amazing pies). And really enjoyed it.
Perhaps the highlight of my strawberry-eating life was the strawberry dessert at the French Laundry in July 2013. It’s possibly that the strawberries were grown across the street in that little farm they had. I actually preferred it to the chocolate dessert – and that’s coming from a chocolate lover.
Since there were still organic strawberries at our local farmers market – farmers market strawberries really are the best! – I had thought about making strawberry ice-cream. Also I knew the kids would love it. But as I read up about strawberry ice-cream, I wondered about all that liquid from the strawberries, would it make for a good ice-cream? I wasn’t all that convinced.
However, something that had been in my pantry for a while was a bag of freeze-dried strawberries from Trader Joe’s. This was something I had picked up (pre-pandemic) to make my older boy’s birthday cake. He had asked for a funfetti cake with strawberry frosting and I love the kind of strawberry frosting you get from using freeze-dried strawberries, it’s a favourite in our family for the past few years.
It wasn’t easy finding a recipe for strawberry ice-cream using freeze-dried strawberries though, is it not a popular idea? But it just seems to make life so much easier. I just wasn’t sure about the proportion of freeze-dried strawberries needed. I was about to wing it and try adding freeze-dried strawberries to a vanilla ice-cream recipe when I found this one on Baking Sense, which called for 2 cups of freeze-dried strawberries. Luckily I had enough.
The recipe calls for the freeze-dried strawberries to be crushed so that you are left with pieces of strawberries, not blitzed like in the frosting, as a result, the colour of the ice-cream won’t be very pink. But I decided to add one drop of a magenta food colouring gel I had, and it made a nice subtle difference.
This was a really delicious strawberry ice-cream. I did decrease the sugar a little – to about 200g – and added a really big pinch of salt, but otherwise, stuck to the ingredients.
Now I have to brave the queue at Trader Joe’s to get more freeze-dried strawberries for another batch of ice-cream!
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