Beat the heat with ice cream

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(Photo by Evan Feekes)

Happy National Ice Cream Month! We know you’re in need of a cold, sweet treat as you enjoy the summer sunshine. Consider making your own ice cream with berries and flowers found in Iowa—like mulberries, honeysuckle or multiflora rose.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day—July 19 this year. Ice cream has a long and storied history dating back to the second century B.C. when Alexander the Great enjoyed snow mixed the honey and nectar—similar to the sorbets we know and love today.

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(Photo by Evan Feekes)

One of my favorite berry ice creams is mulberry; their luscious, jammy flavor blends perfectly with rich ice cream. Plus, the berries are easy to find and pick many places in Iowa—the purple-stained sidewalks are evidence. Red mulberries are native to Iowa, but you might find white mulberry trees where you live, too. White mulberry trees were introduced in Iowa in hopes of building a silk industry in America, but these attempts failed. Both berries are edible and popular for making jam, pies and wine, but white mulberries tend to be a little more tart.

Not only can you beat the heat with berry ice creams, but you can also beat back invasive species like honeysuckle and multiflora rose in floral ice creams. Unfortunately, honeysuckle is no longer blooming in Iowa at this point in the summer (keep this recipe in mind for next year!), and multiflora rose is coming to the end of its flowering season, but you may still find clusters of the showy, fragrant white to pink flowers. These flowers will soon be replaced by red berries—rose hips—that remain on the stems through the winter, and you can make jams and rosehip teas from these berries.

With these ice cream recipes you can get outside and connect with nature through a delicious dessert! You might be able to find some of these fruits and berries at upcoming volunteer events like the Early Summer Prairie Extravaganza, the seed harvest at Puccoon Prairie, or a volunteer day at Cedar Hills Sand Prairie.


Mulberry Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ c milk (whole or 2%)
  • 1/3 c cream (or half-and-half)
  • 3/4 c sugar (divided)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 1 ½ c mulberries (destemmed is preferable)

Directions:

  1. Bring milk, cream, and 1/2 c sugar to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring regularly. Remove from stove.
  2. Beat egg yolks with remaining ¼ c of sugar for 3-5 minutes on high until the mixture is thickened and light yellow.
  3. While whisking or with the mixer on low, slowly pour heated milk and sugar into the egg yolk and sugar. Whisk constantly, so the egg does not cook—you don’t want scrambled eggs in your ice cream!
  4. Pour the custard mixture back into a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat for approximately 4 minutes, or until mixture is thickened. Stir constantly.
  5. Transfer heated mixture into a large bowl, add in vanilla and salt.
  6. Blend mulberries and mix into ice cream mixture.
  7. Cover ice cream mixture with plastic wrap, laying it directly on top of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Chill until cooled completely, preferably overnight.
  8. Freeze according to ice cream maker’s directions or freeze for two hours, stirring the mixture every 20 minutes. If you like harder ice cream, let it harden in the freezer for several hours before eating.
  9. Enjoy!

Honeysuckle or Multiflora Rose Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ c cream
  • 1 c whole milk
  • ½ c sugar
  • 2 c of honeysuckle or multiflora rose blossoms (loosely packed)
  • 1 T vanilla

Directions:

  1. Bring milk, cream, and sugar to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring regularly. Remove from stove.
  2. Add honeysuckle or multiflora rose blossoms to the pan and let them steep in a covered bowl overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. NEXT DAY: Strain the blossoms out and stir in the vanilla. Chill until cooled completely, preferably overnight.
  4. Freeze according to ice cream maker’s directions or freeze for two hours, stirring the mixture every 20 minutes. If you like harder ice cream, let it harden in the freezer for several hours before eating.
  5. Enjoy!

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