How to Make Rhubarb Crumble Ice Cream

Rhubarb Crumble Ice Cream with vanilla ice cream photo

When I was a child I lived in what is known as the rhubarb triangle in Yorkshire, a triangle of land between Bradford, Wakefield, and Leeds where most of the UK’s forced rhubarb is grown. My parents, like most of the parents of my school friends, had a big patch of rhubarb at the top of the garden. Even though we regularly raided it for our snacks and puddings the patch just seemed to get bigger and bigger. I can remember many happy summer days where the mid-afternoon snack was a big stick of rhubarb cut into large chunks and sprinkled with white sugar. It was absolutely delicious but you really did need the sugar to stop it tasting too sour All through the summer the typical Sunday pudding after our family Sunday roast was Rhubarb Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream. This recipe brings those tastes together and reminds me of Sunday afternoons sitting around the dinner table asking for seconds when my tummy was really too full to enjoy it. This ice cream takes a bit more effort than a lot of my ice cream recipes but it really is worth it.

A few words about measurements before we start

Living in France I use metric measurements, but I have converted these to American measurements for those of you who are reading this on the other side of the pond. Metric and American measurements do not convert exactly so I have rounded up or down as the recipe dictates. You will notice a discrepancy in the milk and cream quantity. Double Cream which is common in Europe is a lot heavier than Heavy Cream and so I use it roughly in the formula of two-thirds milk to one-third cream. When I have converted this for American readers it is better to use a milk to the cream formula of half and a half.

A Recipe for Rhubarb Crumble Ice Cream

For the Crumble Mix
75g or two-thirds of a cup of Plain Flour
75g or two-thirds of a stick of Butter
75g or two-thirds of a cup of Brown Sugar
Half a teaspoon Cinnamon Powder
25g or one tablespoon of Ground Almonds

For the Ice Cream
400g or two cups of Rhubarb (cut into chunks of about 3 or 4 cm)
150g or two-thirds of a cup of White Sugar
Juice from Half a Lemon
200ml Double Cream or 1 cup of Heavy Cream
300ml Full Fat Milk or 1 cup of Milk
4 Egg Yolks
Seeds from half a Vanilla Pod
30ml or 1 tablespoon of Water

To make the Rhubarb Ice Cream

Place the cut Rhubarb in a pan with the water, lemon juice and a third of the sugar and cook until the rhubarb is soft. Once this has softened use a hand held whisk or blender to bring it to a pureed consistency. Leave to one side and let it cool.

Whilst the rhubarb is cooling scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the cream and milk and heat until it is almost boiling. DO NOT LET IT BOIL. When it is almost at the point when it is going to boil take it off the heat and leave to one side

In another bowl take the egg yolks and the remainder of the sugar and whisk together until you have a creamy mixture. Pour this into the cream mixture and return to the heat cooking over a low heat for about ten minutes until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Once this has thickened add the rhubarb and stir well.

Pour the mixture into your Ice Cream Maker and churn.

To make the Crumble Mix

Place all your ingredients into a bowl and mix with your fingers until you have a crumble mix. I tend to mix for about ten minutes with my fingers and then stir it with a fork. Scatter your crumble mix over a non-stick baking tray and bake in the oven at about 180C /375F for 15 minutes. The crumble should be crunchy but not burnt. Put to one side and let it cool.

Once cold add to the ice cream mixture when the ice cream has about five minutes churning time to go.

Inflated Profits From Inflated Ice Cream

How happy would parents be to discover that the smooth, whipped confections sold from seaside vans are not the iced dairy cream of our desire but made from frozen, whipped palm oil, artificially emulsified, preserved and flavored? Ice cream has come a long way from the original syrupy sherbets of the Middle East – especially in Britain, where the real cream element has been compromised by some clever chemical additions.

According to an article in The Telegraph, one of the first jobs undertaken by a young Margaret Thatcher in her father’s shop was to discover ways to ‘inflate’ ice cream with air and boost its value. With supermarkets forcing producers to cut their costs, some ingenious producers have added up to 250 percent air by volume to their ice creams.

Fat chances

In pots marked ‘ice cream’, any fat that is not dairy cream or milk can simply be marked ‘vegetable fat’. Consequently, manufacturers use cheap fats, such as highly saturated palm kernel oil. This is most commonly used in the whipped ice cream sold from vans. Ingredients must be listed in order of quantity – which can often include water. In the big world of business, each substitution of a fresh product by a cheaper one adds to the bottom line. Few ingredients are cheaper than water, added to a product already bulked up by air.

Added colorings, especially chemical reds and oranges, have been linked to hyperactivity in children. Starches may be a problem for the gluten-allergic but beetroot-based reds are fine and cane sugar is preferable to other sugars. Water and stabilizers are added to preserve it, together with emulsifiers to help ‘fix’ the fat.

Egg yolks are used in traditional mixes to emulsify. They also add texture and flavor. Despite some consumers concerns, it is almost impossible to suffer from salmonella poisoning from the egg yolks or brucellosis from the milk; all ingredients are pasteurized to kill bacteria.

Commercial ice creams contain cheaper glycerides, emulsifiers made from partially hydrogenated fat. Dairy fat is healthier. Those made with sheep, goat or buffalo milk will always be labeled as such, although can be hard to source.
If looked after properly and put away carefully and quickly after use, ice cream will keep for a long time. In the case of dairy ice cream, the fewer artificial additives there are, the shorter the freezer shelf life will be. In order to thicken the water in the milk and stop the formation of ice crystals, most manufacturers add polysaccharide stabilizers. These are the additives that make some ice creams seem chewy.

Gelatine is a more natural alternative, but because it is animal-based, makers prefer to use plant-based gums, such as guar gum, extracted from the guar bean or the more natural locust bean gum made from carob beans. Carrageenan, a red seaweed-derived thickener, is the best natural alternative.

Why buy local artisan ice cream?

All good, local, ice cream manufacturers will only use liquid milk and cream, sugars and often egg yolks. The sourcing of the ingredients will be localized so as to help protect local farmers and local jobs, and it will certainly taste much better than the mass-produced alternatives. Usually, there is little difference in price, as the artisan producers will deliver their own ice cream, avoiding distributors and wholesaler costs. Traceability is all important to today’s consumer who can see the local cows, fruit trees or plants that help produce an ice cream that’s healthier, tastier and more ethical.

inside the blue bell ice cream manufacturers

Big companies use clever accountants and these bean-counters constantly look at ways to improve their bottom line through substituting natural products by cheaper chemicals. More worryingly, is the disregard towards the consumer, whose taste buds are assumed to be half dead when eating and comparing a once mighty product that has undergone a bean-counter’s ax.

Subtle changes are hard to detect but over a period of time, the consumer is no longer fooled and often turns to another brand in search of the original quality. In the meanwhile, vast profits have been accumulated, sales have soared and the bean-counter is made CEO. Nevertheless, the seeds are then sown for the gradual erosion of the perception of that particular brand in the eyes of its followers.

The Secret of Survival

What should a thrusting, the upwardly mobile company do? The answer is stick to its guns. Do not sell one’s soul to the supermarkets and refuse to discount one’s product to garner ever greater sales. Many a company has lost its crown in the name of the volume and some searching on the part of the consumer for a quality product is no bad war between Tyrrell’s Crisps and Tesco and the forcing of the giant supermarket to remove bags purchased on the gray market from its shelves was a case in point. The loss of profits by refusing to sell to a supermarket was far outweighed by the free publicity gained.

ice cream recipes eats

So keep true to the philosophy of quality over quantity, keep to quality ice cream recipes and one cannot go wrong; the slippery road down to palm oil is a dangerous game and not one that is likely to lick the opposition in the war of the ice creams. Now the secrets of the multi-nationals are out, would any of us touch a seaside van or would we search for a local supplier of the ‘real thing’? The choice is yours.