Whoever perfected commercial buttermilk is part genius, part half-wit. On one hand, they found a way to mass produce a low-fat, tasty dairy product that makes loaves tender, muffins moist and scones split into perfection. On the other, they sell it in cartons with two to four times the amount most recipes require. When a recipe calls for buttermilk, I’m either running out for more or left wondering how to use up that last cup hovering woefully at the bottom of the carton.
In the local grocery stores, buttermilk is sold by the litre (about 4 cups). There is no handy 1- or 2-cup option for when the desire to whip up a single batch of muffins strikes. Buy it and you’re committing yourself to 4 cups worth of buttermilk baking. Sure it keeps longer than the standard 2%, but in this heat do you really want to make four batches of scones or a month’s worth of muffins?
I thought not.
If you’ve got buttermilk going begging, I suggest you walk away from the oven and devote your attention to creating spare room in the freezer. Ice cream is the perfect summertime way to use up some of that confounding leftover buttermilk. And to cool down.
The final dish has the tangy edge of frozen yogurt with the smooth richness of ice cream. After the recent Canadian Food Experience Project post, I was feeling particularly patriotic (and curious) and replaced half the sugar with maple syrup. I’m not fully convinced I can taste the maple over the blueberries. They are so big and bright and loud and boisteorus. Never mind. All three flavours came together nicely in the end. Maybe some of that buttermilk ingenuity wore off of me.
This bold, not-too-sweet ice cream will stain your fingers, napkins and clothes if it spills. And it will. Like all homemade ice creams, it melts more quickly than its commercial counterpart. There are no stabilizers. No carageenan gum, no corn starch, no gelatin. Just berries and cream and sugar and buttermilk. Oh, and egg yolks.
To get this recipe just right, I used 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk. I was tempted to use all 2 cups of the buttermilk left in my fridge, but the results would have been too soft. Now I’ve a pesky 1/2 cup of leftover buttermilk and no more ideas. So I stuck it in the freezer for a head start on the next batch. Doing the math, if I add a full 4-cup carton to the straggling half cup, it’ll all work out perfectly after 3 batches of buttermilk ice cream.
Hmm. I’m revising my first theory. The creator of commerical buttermilk likely had this in mind from the start, so is therefore just genius. An evil genius, but a genius nonetheless.
- 4 cups wild blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup heavy cream (35%)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1½ cup buttermilk
- Cook the blueberries: In a large pot, heat the blueberries over medium heat until they are cooked and soft. You might need to add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. If you want whole blueberries in your ice cream, set aside ¾ cup of the cooked berries. Drain them and return the strained juice to the pot with the other berries. Purée the remaining berries and their juice in a blender. Strain the purée through a sieve, pressing the berrieswith the back of a spoon or ladle to remove any stems and skin. Set the berry purée aside, discard the skins and stems.
- Make the custard: In a medium pot over medium heat, bring the cream and vanilla paste to a simmer. Bubbles should form around the edge of the pot but don’t let the cream boil. Once it simmers remove the pan from the heat. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks with the sugar and maple syrup until pale and well combined. Slowly, pour a ladle of the cream into the yolks, whisking constantly. Whisk in a second ladle and then slowly whisk the yolks into the cream in the pot. Return the pot to the heat and cook, stirring contstantly, until the yolks are thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Finish and chill the custard: Remove the custard from the heat and stir in the buttermilk. Stir in the blueberry purée and the reserved whole berries, if using. Cover and refrigerate until cool.
- Churn the ice cream: About 15 to 20 minutes before churning, pop the blueberry ice cream mixture into the freezer to thoroughly chill. Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions.