Posts tagged strawberry

Decadent and Simple Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

images (2)Last summer we got an ice cream maker and we perfected making frozen yogurt.  There are so many simple and delicious variations on frozen yogurt that we never got bored just making frozen yogurt.  Three of my favorites were nonfat key lime frozen yogurt, blueberry vanilla frozen yogurt and nonfat peach frozen yogurt.

This year I decided that it was time to give good old-fashioned ice cream a try.  Boy am I glad I did.  It is so simple and so delicious.  It is not exactly what I would call “healthy,” but as an occasional treat it is a wonderful indulgence.  I started with a basic recipe and then modified it a bit to make it how I wanted it. Due to the fact that it is strawberry season right now, the strawberries are amazing and brought such sweet and amazing flavor to this ice cream.   I made a double batch which should be for about 8 people, but realistically in our house it is enough for 6 people.

Here is what you need:

2.5 cups whole milk

2 cups light cream

1.5-2 cups sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)

6 tbsp. corn syrup

6 egg yolks

1 tbsp. good vanilla extract

2 quarts strawberries, pureed but leave some chunks

Here is what you do:

In a saucepan, heat the milk and the cream together leaving 1 cup of milk aside in a separate bowl.  You will temper this in later with the eggs. Heat the milk and cream until it begins to bubble around the edges.  Whisk almost constantly while it is getting to this point. DO NOT BOIL.  In a bowl, combine the 1 cup of milk, the sugar, corn syrup, egg yolks and vanilla.  Stir to combine. Once combined, slowly whisk the hot milk and cream into the bowl.  Be careful to do this slowly so do not you do not scramble the eggs.  Once all of the hot milk has been added to the bowl, return the entire mixture to the saucepan and heat until bubbles form around the edges.  Once bubbles form, heat for approximately 5 more minutes, but do not boil.  It will begin to thicken slightly.  You must stir this constantly. Once it coats the back of a spoon it is done.  Next pour the custard into a bowl and add the strawberry puree.  Stir to combine.  Cover the custard and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.  This will take about 4 hours.  The custard must be thoroughly chilled or it will not set up in the ice cream maker.  Once chilled, add to ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.

This experience showed me that making delicious old fashioned ice cream is simple and only takes a little time.  My family went crazy over this ice cream. I literally found myself taking a bite out of it every time I walked into the kitchen.  This is a treat that is totally worth it.

I would love to hear about your adventures in making homemade ice cream.  What is your favorite flavor to make?

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DIY Hanging Strawberry Planter

Every year, my gardening season begins with figuring out how I am going to grow my strawberries this year.   Strawberries are one of my favorite things to grow, but they can also be rather tricky to grow.  One of the biggest problems I have had in previous years with growing strawberries in the ground is pests.  Snails, slugs and everything else really seem to love them.  I can’t say I blame these little pests, but there is nothing more disappointing than anxiously awaiting the ripening of your berries just to find out that the garden pests got to them first.

Last year I tried using one of those hanging strawberry planters.  I bought the Topsy Turvy strawberry planter.  At first I thought this was the best thing in the world. Not only did it keep my strawberries off the ground (so they were safe from many pests), but it allowed me to plant 24 plants in just that one hanging planter.  I loved how much space I saved.

One of the first things I noticed was that by about halfway through the summer, the nice dark green bag planter had been completely bleached by the sun and looked pretty shot. I kept using it though because it still seemed ok to use.  By the end of the summer however it was completely destroyed.  It  had completely rotted and was falling apart.  I will not be buying another one of these.

This year I set out on a mission to figure out a better way to grow strawberries in a hanging basket. Well low and behold I believe I have figured it out.  So here is what I did. First, I went to Home Depot and bought a 16 inch hanging basket with a coco fiber liner.  The basket it made from a powder coated steel, so it will last forever and the coco fiber liner is durable, breathable, helps reduce watering and will resist fungus and most pests don’t like it.  The inexpensive liner can be replaced each season or used for several seasons before it needs to be replaced.

The next step was taking a super sharp knife and cutting 8 X’s in the coco fiber lining at different spots around the pot.  I cut four around the bottom edge of the planter and 4 more around the top edge.  I helps to cut all the X’s before starting to put the strawberries plants in.

Make sure you have a very sharp knife or pair of garden scissors because the coco fibers are surprisingly hard to cut through.   Next I took 8 of the strawberries plants I had from last year (most strawberry plants are perennials meaning they will return each year) and put the green leafy part and the stem through the X’s I cut in the coco liner.  Once I had finish I had one little strawberry plant peeking out of each of the X’s I had cut.  Then I filled the pot with new soil.  Finally, I had about 12 more little strawberry plants so I planted them in the top of the planter. Voila!  I now have my own hanging strawberry planter.  The best part is that this one is so much more attractive than the hanging green Topsy Turvey bag.

Once you have gotten to this point there are a few things to keep in mind.  Strawberry plants love sun and like to get 8-10 hours of sun a day.  This is a necessity for strawberries.  As a result of needing so much sun, these hanging planters do get dry pretty quickly once the weather warms up so make sure to check it often and water as needed. Here is a link to a great article about how to care for your strawberry plants.  This will give you lots of tips and tricks for having a great harvest of strawberries.

This project was very simple and very inexpensive.  I did buy a new hanging basket for $12, but that was really my only expense. I used strawberry plants that were already in my garden and I had a bag of soil in my shed.  Strawberries like cold weather so you will want to get them started now.  Strawberry plants can be a bit pricey to buy in the store, but can easily be started from seeds. You just need to start them indoors early so that as soon as the spring comes you can move them outdoors.  I planted 4 different types of ever-bearing strawberries. Here is link to buy many different types of strawberry seeds if you are interested in starting them from seeds.

This is a great project to do with the kids (except of course for cutting the x’s) because it was easy and fun. My kids loved planting the strawberries plants on top and them watering our new strawberry planter.  Happy planting!

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