Strawberry Balsamic Gelato: Ending Strawberry Season on a Sweet Note

Friday, June 28, 2013

Strawberry Gelato | PK NewbyI’ve been loving my local summer strawberries this past month, and you can find a round-up of my fave strawberry recipes here. Alas, this year’s strawberries are quickly coming to an end, so I’m concluding the season on a sweet note: a luscious dish of pink gelato.

I must confess that my arguable obsession with strawberries each June is a testament to the beauty of local produce. The truth is that I rarely eat strawberries outside the month of June. They are not my favorite snacking berry; that would be blueberries. And the big pink strawberries in the supermarket found off-season just make me sad with their hard, mealy ways; I’ll choose frozen any day over that. Much like tomatoes, corn, and apples—anything, really—fresh produce in season always wins when it comes to flavor.

Anyway, last year at this time I broke out my ice cream maker and whipped up a quart of strawberry-basil ice cream. Pretty awesome, actually, so you should check it out. In fact, I was tempted to just make that again. But I’ve not made gelato before, so I searched the interwebs for inspiration and finally selected this recipe from Bon Appétit, which I adapted with my own personal touches and modifications (of course).

Strawberry Balsamic Gelato

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 2 1/4 cups strawberries, chopped roughly
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vodka (optional)

Instructions

Mix together sugar and cornstarch and whisk in cream and milk; 2% works just fine. Simmer over medium heat about 5 minutes, until thickened, then cool over an ice water bath. Purée strawberries and add to cooled dairy mixture, stirring until incorporated. Stir in vodka and balsamic vinegar. (The vodka prevents ice crystals from forming, in theory, and I added the balsamic on a whim for complexity. You can’t tell it’s there, but it added incredible balance and deepened the color.) Spoon into a container and chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Process in ice cream maker according to instructions, taking care not to overchurn. Store in freezer two hours to ripen, or longer. (Photos and steps are below; use your cursor to see the cooking note.)

Gorgeous, yes? The recipe really is this pink because the strawberries I’ve been getting are very red, and the color was deepened by the addition of the dark purple balsamic. (You’ll note the color of my strawberry ice cream is much pinker in hue.) By the way, I’m sure this recipe would be quite lovely with frozen berries, since fruit is picked at the height of ripeness before freezing. But I only make ice cream a few times a year when I’m particularly inspired by the season, like today. And if you’re going to use fresh strawberries, now’s the time given the season is just about over. (Sniff, sniff.)

Just a little more evidence for you that I’m a moderate, my dear readers. There is a place for sweet treats in a healthy diet, and June is definitely the right time for strawberry ice cream.

I mean, gelato.

Whatever.

So good.

Like this? Then check out my recipe for strawberry basil ice cream!

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Dr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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