Homemade Raspberry Ice Cream

Berries are plentiful in Asturias and it is relatively easy to find them in the wild; on the other hand, who can resist homemade ice-cream? 

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The first time I dared to make ice-cream was a couple of Christmas ago, when we had to spend the holidays away from home because of work. Our family, unwilling to let us spend Christmas without turrón (Spanish nougat), shipped over one too many bars (Italian mums take the credit, but Spanish ones are as feeders) and by the 8th January, the actual date when Christmas is over in Spain, we still had plenty. Unable to find any places to have turrón ice-cream, I decided to give it a try. The result, without an ice-cream maker, was excellent. Soft still consistent and full of flavour, I couldn't help but wonder if the berries ice-cream would turn out as good. It did. And here you are the recipe.


Homemade raspberry ice-cream

(adapted from Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food)

 

3 egg yolks (optional)

120ml single cream

150gr sugar (divided)

225ml double cream

600gr fresh raspberries

A couple of drops of vanilla extract

A pinch of salt

 

If you decide to do the variation with the eggs (if you don't have an ice-cream machine the eggs will help), whisk them shortly. Add the single cream and 100 grams sugar to a heavy-bottomed saucepan. It is very important that the mix doesn't boil, so medium heat is best. Stir the mixture to a light cream and when hot add the egg yolks. Keep on stirring until the sugar, eggs and cream mixture thickens and make sure it doesn't boil. When the cream is thick remove from the hob and strain it quickly. Immediately after straining add the double cream, cover the mixture and chill.

While the mixture chills, wash, dry (the drying part is important as raspberries tend to retain loads of water) and hull the raspberries. If you are privileged enough to pick up the raspberries on the day that you are planning to make the ice-cream the flavour will be more intense. As with almost anything, the fresher the fruit is, the better. Purée the raspberries and if you don't want the seeds, strain the purée before adding the 50 grams of sugar. Let it macerate in their own juices. Stir occasionally until the sugar has melted completely. 

Once the cream mixture is cold add the raspberries. You can enhance the flavour adding the vanilla and salt. 

If you have an ice-cream machine, from this point you can follow the manufacturer's instructions. If you don't, like it's my case, you will spend the next four hours checking your ice-cream to make sure you prevent the hard ice crystals from ruin it. First put your mixture in a durable moderately deep container -stainless steel for example- and after 30 minutes, open the door and check it. You need to stir vigorously the mixture with a spatula or whisker, breaking up any frozen bits and taking special care around the edges which is where the hard ice crystals will be forming first. Return to the freezer and repeat this process 7 or 8 times, stirring while the ice-cream freezes. 

The ice-cream will last up to a week in the freezer, but the first 3 days will be the best. If this sounds too much of a hassle, you can always go to El Malaín and have theirs. 

 
 

El Malaín

This berry orchard, located a few miles from Villaviciosa, is a paradise for slow-food advocates and anyone who enjoys pick-your-own farms

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El Malaín is a peaceful place where nature's rules are respected. A space to come to terms with modern times. A hidden slow-food gem, El Malaín is a three-hectares farm where you can collect organic blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries and red and black currants. 

The bells of the cows tinkling here and there while happily grazing in the surrounding fields or the birds singing are the only noise that will keep you company while hand picking the berries. The idyllic aisles of small trees, a far cry from supermarket's ones, are a true treat to your senses. Tasting the small fruits in moderation is permitted and the owners surely know why they allow it: few things are more rewarding than the simple act of picking your fruit and eating it. Pure harmony with nature. Effortlessly delicious. 

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Marta Serrano and Pablo Álvarez started their berry business 25 years ago. Originally from Ciudad Real and Astorga respectively, they fell in love with Asturias and decided to look for a place there to start a new life. They quitted their white collar jobs -decor and advertising- in Madrid and transformed the then grazing field in the berry farm we know today. "Getting people to know the fruits was the most difficult part" says Marta. Asturias' soil is optimal to grow berries, so much so that it is common to find wild berries in rural areas. However, up until recently they weren't sold at supermarkets and some people were not familiar with these small fruits. If you live in Britain it is likely that you have had Asturian berries since a high percentage of the region's production (in some cases over 90%) is exported, mainly to Britain. 

"Some people thought they were exotic fruits from faraway countries" comments Marta, and adds "it was hard to convince Asturians that the fruits were grown here and that is why we decided to open the orchard to the public, so they could see it". These days El Malaín is an institution among the berries connoisseurs in Asturias. Most of the people who visit are loyal Asturians who year after year go to El Malaín, but there are also off the beaten track adventurers who appreciate high-quality berries at reasonable prices. Furthermore, families are welcome and children truly love this place. The farm is family friendly and one of the must-do activities if you visit Asturias with children. 

Berries have become popular in recent times for their nutritional and medicinal properties. All the berries you can buy at El Malaín are highly nutritious but each has different properties:

Blueberries

They are good for prostate and eye health, to improve memory and to treat urinary tract infections.

Raspberries

They minimize the absorption of fat, their leaves may help to tone uterus (it is recommended to drink raspberry leaf tea during the last two months of pregnancy only) and it is believed to have some cancer-fighting substances.

Blackberries

They help repair sun-damaged skin (and luckily they are in season right on time for that), they help lower blood pressure, they contribute to a healthy gut as they contain insoluble and soluble fibre and they contain salicylic acid, which may help protect against heart disease.

Currants

They help regulate blood pressure, they protect against neuro-degeneration and cataracts and they are a great immunity-boosting tonic thanks to its mixture of vitamic C and antioxidants.

How does El Malaín work? The system they follow is very simple. When you arrive to the farm you get a plastic basket to place all the berries you take. It doesn't matter if you mix them because they are all priced the same. Once you finish your visit you go back to the tiny shop to pay. They also sell homemade jams, vinegars and juices.  And ice-cream. But their ice-creams deserve a special mention. Probably a whole feature. I am an ice-cream person, from Ruby Violet to Berthillon to Carapina, I have had ice-cream in every city I have visited or lived. Always. And these are unbeatable, the perfect balance of softness and silky consistency, an explosion of pure flavour. If you are in good health, I recommend you to have one when you get there and one before you go. Excesses sometimes do feel good. They only do raspberry and blueberry and they do it right. 

Once you have experienced the real thing, it is difficult to go back to the ordinary. Enjoy it while you can! 

El Malaín

San Justo, Villaviciosa  CP 33314

Opening times: June - September 10am-8pm

Frozen berries available throughout the year