Saturday 17 December 2011

CC Strawberry ice cream - an agar agar experiment

I have come to the conclusion that I don't choose change.  It chooses me.  It usually drags me along screaming and kicking!  For those who might seem surprised to see an ice cream recipe on my blog, I am not referring to that.  I mean that I had to buy a new camera today.  Yesterday I took a new water bottle to the workplace Christmas lunch.  Events conspired against me (but no alcohol was involved) and the new bottle emptied itself into my camera.  The view finder resembled a fishtank.

I made this ice cream last night but there are no photos of making it because I was without a camera!   But I was determined to make it for a Christmas meal at home tonight.  I had planned to make icy poles for the penultimate Cookbook Challenge because the theme was cool.  Then I saw that Vikki Leng had quite a few eggless ice cream recipes using agar agar in A Vegetarian Feast.  I was intrigued.

She claimed that the agar agar and honey (these are not vegan recipes) kept the mixture soft and that no ice cream machine was needed.  I've always shied away from making ice cream because I dislike eggs and don't have an ice cream machine.  Problem solved!  Or so I thought.

Making the ice cream was easier than I expected.  Setting it was harder than I expected.  After leaving it overnight it had started to harden around the edges.  I turned up the freezer.  Even tonight, 24 hours later, it was quite firm around the edges but in the middle it was sloppy.  Vikki said the honey would keep it soft and Nigella (which I did some research) said that cold kills flavour, I added an extra spoonful of honey.  I would only add 2 tablespoons in future.  Not only is the ice cream soft but it tastes more of honey than strawberries.

So the ice cream is not perfect but it is better than my first attempt last year.  Without eggs in the equation, I am quite happy to experiment, especially when it is so hot.  I am less happy to experiment with my camera but that is a necessary evil.  I am all thumbs with it right now.  You may notice this in some of the photos.  I am also very nervous about cameras and accidents.  But as I heard on the radio twice lately - you have to live life.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
This time last year: Hotel Lincoln: genial gastropub
This time two years ago: Christmas Nut Roast in Scotland
This time three years ago: Tree, Tarts and Punch
This time four years ago: SHF #38 Christmas Pudding

Strawberry ice cream with agar
From Vikki Leng's A Vegetarian Feast
makes about 1 litre

1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup castor sugar
2 tsp agar powder
2 cup milk
250g punnet of strawberries, hulled
2 tbsp honey
3/4 cup (225g) pouring cream

Heat apple juice, castor sugar and agar powder in a small saucepan until they boil (mine had a lot of froth when it boiled).  Reduce heat and simmer.  Let sit for about 2-5 minutes.  I found after 5 minutes that mine coated the spoon a bit like a jam that is starting to set.

Blend milk, strawberries and honey in the food processor.  While motor is still running, drizzle in apple juice mixture.  Leave to set and then blend in the cream.  After 30 minutes (before adding the cream), mine had set enough that when I added the cream it just sat on top of the mixture.

Tip mixture into plastic tub - allowing a bit of space for ice cream to expand when it freezes.  I had to turn up my freezer to full blast because it was still soft in the middle even after 24 hours.  Maybe it was because I used 3 tbsp of honey and if it is reduced to 2 tbsp it might freeze a little more.

NOTES: Vikki Leng suggests substituting greek yoghurt for cream.  I will try this next time because I found the cream quite heavy.  I served my ice cream with a bitter chocolate sauce (50g of 70% dark chocolate and a few spoonfuls - ie the rest of a 300ml tub - of cream melted together in the microwave - probably enough for 4).

On the Stereo:
Christmas is a Coming: Bing Crosby


  1. Ah, shame, but next time it will be perfect and it is a great base for other flavours, so you can really play about. I have some sorbets on my blog you might like to try, the mango one is particularly nice, but you don't have to add wine.

    ps love those little green bowls
    pps have a great Christmas if I don't speak to you before then.


  2. Aww too bad about the old camera but YAY on getting a new one!

    This ice cream sounds delicious! I've never thought to use agar agar this way before!

  3. Good luck with the new camera. I love strawberry ice cream and I think your green serving bowls are gorgeous.

  4. What a shame that it is not setting :( And sorry to hear about your camera!

  5. Oh no! The poor (old) camera. I hope the new one is exciting enough to make up for it though :) The learning experience should be fun at least.

    I was interested to read the ice cream recipe and experience because I'm also quite hesitant with agar agar, and with making ice cream (in fact I never have). I'll look forward to any future experimenting you do too.

  6. Ack, I still haven't bought a new camera since mine stopped working back in... April?? I've just been using one of my dad's old ones, because I'm terrified of technological purchases.

    Looking forward to seeing more of your non-icecream-mnaker-needed experiments :)

  7. yay new camera! always good to challenge oneself...

  8. Thanks Jac - must try your sorbets - maybe over summer - and will keep playing with this recipe - good to have an excuse to use these green bowls

    Thanks Joanne - I am glad I am finally finding some interesting ways to use agar - and hope to be able to say the same of my camera once it is more familiar

    Thanks charlie - I appreciate a good strawberry ice cream but I think this needed more fruit and more colour - but it is a good start

    Thanks Lisa - I meant to check last night how it was after a couple of days in the freezer - will look tonight - wondered if a shallow container would work better

    Thanks Kari - I am an ice cream novice but think this is the sort of recipe I can appreciate - the main problem (apart from the set) was it was too creamy but I think different dairy or dairy subs would work better for me - meanwhile I think there will be quite a learning curve with my camera - keep looking for familiar buttons

    Thanks Hannah - I almost wish my dad had an old one I could use but then I know that i would never ever buy a new one - sometimes change really needs to be thrust upon me - at least I had thought about it a bit beforehand

    Thanks Lucy - yep it's a challenge - will let you know how I go (or ask for tips!)

  9. That's too bad about your camera. :( I'm always so paranoid when I put my water bottle in my bag that I close it so ridiculously tight. I love that you don't need an ice cream maker for this.

  10. Oh well, every time we make something, we learn. I have an icecream maker, which makes life easier.

  11. Thanks Ashley - I am always so careful and then there is a christmas lunch where we are hurried along and I am distracted and it all goes pear shaped

    thanks Cakelaw - I don't make ice cream often enough to buy an ice cream maker but yes I am learning a few things about ice cream by experimenting

  12. Oh, no! So sorry about the camera. Wasn't it fairly new? (I seem to remember a gift of a new camera a while back. . .). Well, the new(er) one seems to take good pictures! (actually, YOU take them, but you know what I mean). ;-)

    The ice cream reminds me of those in the Ice Dream Cookbook, which also uses agar to keep them soft (plus alcohol--which works like a dream). I tend to add fruit purees to my ice creams for that reason, which seems to work.


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