The taste of home-made strawberry icecream can bring bring tears to my eyes, because it is such a sweet reminder of my childhood. The heavenly frozen mixture of mashed, sweet strawberries, fresh cream and a zip of lemon juice is so much more than the sum of its parts: it has another taste, which is all its own. Every time I eat this I think of sitting, bare-legged, under the blossoming syringa trees that overhung our farm swimming pool.
The problem with making ice cream at home is that (unless you have an ice-cream machine), you have to keep beating the stuff every half an hour, as it freezes, to break up the ice crystals. With this mixture, you can get away with just two beatings during the freezing process, and although it might not taste as silken as shop ice cream, and may even have a few crunchy flakes, I promise you it will taste delicious.
This recipe uses shop-bought custard because I can't be bothered to make my own. You can use long-life custard, but you'll get a better result if you use a proper egg custard, such as Woolworths ready-made vanilla custard.
Strawberries have come into season in South Africa, and you can buy several punnets for a very good price at local greengrocers. The only important thing here is to use really tasty, perfumed strawberries: a gigantic, deep-crimson strawberry is of no use if it tastes like bath water. Really ripe, flavoursome strawberries have a distinctive, sweet, almost dusty fragrance.
Easy Strawberry Ice Cream
about 30 ripe, small strawberries, or 25 big ones
1/2 cup (125 ml) white granulated sugar (or more, if you like a really sweet ice cream)
1 cup (250 ml) ready-made custard, chilled
2/3 cup (160 ml) fresh cream
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
If you don't have an ice-cream maker, put a big metal bowl into your deep freeze. Pull or slice the green tops off the strawberries and cut them in half. Put them in a bowl, sprinkle with the sugar and set aside for three-quarters of an hour, stirring once or twice. Put the strawberries and the syrup that has formed into the goblet of a liquidiser, or into a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process to a fine purée. (If you'd like some fruity chunks in your icecream, reserve a few halved strawberries for dicing and adding to the mixture just before you freeze it). Add the custard and the cream and blitz until well combined (but don't over-beat the mixture). Squeeze in just enough lemon juice - a teaspoon or so - to give the mixture a slight zip.
Pour the mixture into an icecream maker and process in the normal way. If you don't have such a gadget, tip the mixture into the chilled metal bowl and place in the deep freeze. Freeze for three to five hours (depending on how arctic your freezer is), whisking the mixture every hour - or more often - during that time. Serve soon; this is best eaten on the day it's made.
Eat, straight from the dish, bare-legged, in the sun.
Serves 6 - 8