August 31, 2011

Mason jars, ice cream machines, and blackberries

Here's to a new blog design and the (almost) end of summer, my favorite summer drink of choice: a mason jar filled with ice, lemon slices, and Pellegrino. It's refreshing and beats the heat in a way that other iced drinks don't seem to do as well, although unsweetened peach iced tea is a close second.

In the food realm, frozen yogurt helps, too. As it is the last day of August and there is still plenty of heat on the west coast for such things, it's time to power up the ice cream machine and churn something cold, like that blackberry frozen yogurt I mentioned, oh, a couple of months ago. Yeah, that one. I hadn't meant to take a break from the blog, but it just kind of fell off my radar for a while. It happens. The summer doldrums must have hit me. Whatever it was, maybe a bright new design will help perk things up a bit, on the blog and in my interest for the blog.

As for the frozen yogurt, you should make it now and definitely with blackberries. I'm sure other types of berries would taste fine here, or even a mix, but I highly recommend using blackberries first, mostly because blackberries are everywhere at this time, farmers markets, roadside bushes, wherever you can find them, but get them fast because they won't last too long, and also because it's just so good. The deep berry flavor nicely plays off the tangy yogurt, kind of like when eating berries on plain yogurt in the mornings, but, you know, more dessert-like.

The recipe needs a total of five ingredients, half-and-half (although whole milk works fine, too), honey, plain yogurt, blackberries, and an extract. You can use vanilla, almond, or lemon extract, but, without having tried the almond, I think the lemon works best here. You see, I made it twice, the first batch with vanilla and the second batch with lemon, and the lemon kind of works in the same way as adding lemon juice to a fruit pie or cobbler; it doesn't muddle the overall flavor and actually brightens it, whereas the vanilla extract didn't seem to be doing the frozen yogurt any favors.

The hardest part, after pureeing the blackberries in a food processor or blender, is straining them through a sieve. You really need to press and stir the berries with a spoon to get as much of the puree as possible that you can get. Doing the straining in batches helps. It's kind of tedious and while doing it you might wonder if that particular step is really necessary, but the straining eliminates the seeds, which can get lodged in ones teeth and trying to get them out can be even more tedious, so I prefer to strain the berries rather than deal with them later.

Other than wrangling with a sieve for a bit, everything is mixed together in a large bowl then dumped into the ice cream machine and, thankfully, if you have one, the machine does the rest of the work for you. Well, until you have to transfer the frozen yogurt to a container and wait for it to firm up in the freezer. That, more than being tedious, tests one's patience.

Blackberry Frozen Yogurt
Inspired by the Cuisinart Manual Recipe Booklet

-I use honey when making ice cream, or any other frozen treat, but if you would prefer, you can substitute ¾ cup granulated sugar for the honey.

¾ cup half-and-half
½ cup mild-flavored honey
4 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
24 oz blackberries, if frozen thawed
1 tsp vanilla, almond, or lemon extract

Puree the blackberries, then strain through a sieve into a medium bowl to remove seeds, and set aside; discard the seeds. In a large mixing bowl, combine the half-and-half and honey, stirring until honey dissolves. Add the yogurt, berry puree, and extract, stirring until fully incorporated.

Process according to your ice cream manufacturer's directions (our model takes 20 - 25 minutes). Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for two to four hours before serving.

Makes about 2 quarts.


  1. The photo of the yogurt looks great -- I can almost imagine the flavor from the way it looks. I also liked reading about how different experiments with the same recipe turn out. I'm glad you wrote another post; I've been looking forward to seeing these again for quite a while ~ Michael

  2. Yes, the blackberry with the lemon was definitely the best! Mom

  3. This ice cream sounds SO good. Looks really beautiful as well. great job.

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