When spring comes, so does a bounty of rhubarb, those reddish-pink slender stalks with a bitter taste. If you're lucky enough to have a rhubarb plant in your garden, you have plenty of rhubarb to make this ice cream, but you should not have a problem finding rhubarb in the market when in season. And turning it into ice cream is an excellent way to enjoy it.
For this recipe, you will need an ice cream freezer (or another type of ice cream maker), a hand-cranked apparatus with a can container that is placed in an ice bath with salt. This ice cream is amazing with a slice of warm pie or a dish of rhubarb cobbler. To double the flavor, top the ice cream with an easy rhubarb dessert sauce, or a combination of strawberries and rhubarb.
If you've never cooked with rhubarb before, this ice cream is a great first recipe to try as it is simple and sweet. Rhubarb is at its peak from April to June, and most often sold without its leaves as they are actually poisonous (so if you grow your own, don't forget to remove before cooking!). The long celery-like stalks can range from a light pink to a deep red and should be free of blemishes and firm to the touch. This vegetable has a very tart flavor, which is why it is most often cooked with a lot of sugar and rarely eaten raw. You should store rhubarb in the refrigerator for up to one week.
In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the diced rhubarb, sugar, water, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a simmer and continue simmering, uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until the rhubarb is tender. Cool completely.
Combine the cooled rhubarb mixture with the heavy cream, vanilla, and red food coloring.
Pour into a 1-gallon freezer container of an ice cream freezer. Add milk, filling about 2/3 full.
Freeze, following ice cream freezer directions.
- To make strawberry rhubarb ice cream, replace up to half of the rhubarb with sliced fresh strawberries. For a 1 1/2-quart ice cream maker, use 2 cups of diced rhubarb, 1/2 cup of sugar, 2/3 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, 1 1/3 cups of heavy cream, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla, and 1 cup of milk. Follow the ice cream freezer manufacturer's directions.