A few weeks back we came across some beautiful Wisconsin grown dark cherries that we used to make our Cherry Basil Yogurt Pretzel. This week, it’s Wisconsin grown sour cherries. When they’re around, sour cherries are only here for a short time and they’re usually in short supply. I’ve been itching to make a cherry sarsaparilla root beer flavor, but after just happening upon these sour cherries, time to track was too tight to track down sarsaparilla root. Instead, I found some sassafras root at my local coop, Seward Community Coop that I thought would do the trick. This week’s flavor – Cherry Sassafras
This is sassafras root. It’s actually the root of a tree. It’s used in tea, and by some microbrewers to make root beer, but for the most part it has been replaced with artificial flavors. We don’t use any artificial flavors in our ice cream, EVER, so we’re using the real thing for this one. The dried sassafras root has a strong aroma of root beer, and with a deep whiff, there are strong notes of anise. To infuse our ice cream, the root is steeped in our standard cane sugar base during the cooking process. Vanilla and cardamom seeds are also used in the steep. After pasteurization, the sassafras root is strained out with a fine mesh sieve. The base is cooled and is then ready to churn.
For the sour cherries, these beauties are first pitted, and then brought to simmer with a splash of fresh lemon juice and cane sugar. Using the cold plate method to check consistency of jam/syrup, the cherries are monitored during the simmering process and cooled down once desired consistency is achieved. After churning the sassafras ice cream, the cherries are swirled into the ice cream before packaging.
Cherry Sassafras! The sassafras is so unique. The flavor crosses between cherry root beer and cherry cola. One thing is for sure – there’s nothing artificial tasting here.
Sour Cherry Jam:
1 pint Sour cherries, pitted
1 cup Cane sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons Lemon juice
Ice Cream Base:
2 cups Heavy Cream
1 cup Milk
3/4 cup Cane Sugar
1 Tablespoon Sassafras root
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
3/4 teaspoon Sea salt
1/8 teaspoon Cardamom seeds, removed from pods
1. Make cherry jam: Place a plate in the freezer (this will come in handy in a bit). In a medium saucepan combine the cherries and lemon juice. Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in sugar. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Cook and stir the mix until the bubbles subside and the jam appears slightly thickened, somewhere around 15 minutes. To test for doneness, spoon a small amount onto the chilled plate. If jam is gooey and wrinkles when you push your finger into it, it is done. This means it will not be icy in the cream (which you do not want). If not, cook and stir a little longer before testing again. Cover and chill completely until you are ready to make the ice cream.
2. Make ice cream base: Crack eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk fully. Add cane sugar and whisk. Add heavy cream, milk, sassafras, vanilla, salt, and cardamom seeds. Whisk until ingredients are combined.
3. Cook/pasteurize ice cream base: Over medium heat, whisk or stir base continuously until temperature reaches 165-170 degrees. Remove from heat. Allow sassafras to steep for 10 minutes. Strain base into a clean bowl with a fine mesh strainer. Cool ice cream base to room temperature (an ice bath will do this in about 15-20 minutes). Cover base, and chill in refrigerator overnight.
4. Churn ice cream base in ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Swirl in sour cherry jam after ice cream is in storage container. Store ice cream in air tight container in freezer until chow time.
*Yields approximately 2.5 pints
If you’d rather not make it, you can be one of two lucky winners of this fabulous, scratch made craft ice cream in our weekly pint giveaway. Enter your name in the comments section here, or on our facebook page under the posted contest. Two winners will be drawn randomly on Friday 8/28/15 at 4pm. Winners must be able to pick up locally in Minneapolis. Prizes must be claimed by email within one week or we will redistribute. 🙂 Good luck!