Foraging for fruit and a Cherry Ripple Ice Cream……

cherry harvest

Not far from where we live, just round the corner really, there’s half a dozen or so wild cherry trees and over the past few weeks when I’ve walked back from popping down to the shops I’ve stopped and picked a handful or so to eat.  There’s never been that many all ripe at once, or if there have been they’ve been too high up and only reachable if you are a bird or a squirrel.

But the week before last I noticed a whole load of dark coloured cherries all squished on the ground, and when I looked up I saw one tree that I’d have thought would have been picked clean was absolutely laden and the cherries were all ripe.  I quickly nipped home and returned with a couple of big plastic tubs and picked as many as I could reach, which wasn’t all that easy as the tree is on a bit of a slope so every time I stretched up I kept running back down the hill, no doubt I provided plenty of entertainment to anyone watching and i had a couple of dog walkers ask me what I was doing and what was I planning to make.  I’ve only ever seen one other couple pick the cherries near here so i guess people don’t realize what they are or that they’re edible…..the wild cherries aren’t as fat and plump as the ones we’ve been buying from the fruit stall on the market, but they were so good to eat, slightly tarter and very juicy.

This Summer I’ve been playing around trying out various ice cream recipes and although I don’t need to ask my boyfriend his favourite flavour (chocolate every time) I prefer a really fruity ice, but the older I get the more fussy I’ve become, even some of the posh ice creams in the shops are full of ingredients I wasn’t expecting to find so I don’t begrudge the time spent making a custard* for the ice cream base as I know I’m going to have a delicious pudding come evening.

Possibly the recipe I’ve had the best results with so far involves making a custard with full fat milk and egg yokes and adding some whipped cream.  Chocolate or a fruit puree can be added after the dessert has begun to set.  I don’t think home made ice cream keeps particularly well, so I only make enough to last us a couple of nights but I’ve made up lots of little pots of fruit puree and have those crammed in the freezer all ready to use for pudding nights.

The foraged cherries were made into a very grown up tasting Cherry Ripple ice cream, some puree was put in the freezer and some I ate with yoghurt for a rather indulgent breakfast the next day though I think it would have been very nice on warm brioche or croissants.

Cherry Ripple Ice cream


500ml full fat milk

4 egg yolks

150 g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

300 ml double cream



caster sugar

(I used 750g or so cherries and to that used 150g sugar but it depends on how sweet or tart your fruit is and also on your own preference)

To make

Pour the milk into a heavy based saucepan and add about half the sugar.  Stir all the while with a wooden spoon and scald the milk.

Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining half of the sugar until the yolks become pale and creamy.

While the egg mixture is being whisked pour in a little of the hot milk.  Keep whisking a nd slowly add a little more and so on until all the milk is added.

Wash the pan and then add the eggy milk back in and on a very low heat make the custard.

Stir all the while with a wooden spoon until the milk begins to coat the back of the spoon.  Once the custard has began to form, turn off the heat and then keep stirring until the custard thickens up a bit more.  (you can do this with the bowl set in a sink with cold water if you’re worried about the custard curdling)

Place in a metal bowl and set to one side.

Now whisk the cream until it’s soft and billowy.  Add to the custard in spoonfuls and stir through.  Cover with clingfilm and place in the freezer.

Rinse the cherries and tumble them in to a large saucepan, add a little water and cover with some sugar.  Bring to a gentle simmer and allow them to soften and cook for about 10 minutes or so.  Once the cherries are all soft and falling away from their stones, place them in a large sieve and press them though so you get a lovely fruity puree.

(You may find it a bit easier to sieve a couple of desert spoons full at a time as it is a bit hard going, but I’m sure this does wonders for wobbly under arms)

After an hour, take the metal bowl out of the freezer, and give the custard a good mix with either a fork or a whisk.  Cover and put back for another hour.  Repeat a couple more times until the mixture has began to firm up some.

When the custard seems like it’s a good way on the way to becoming ice cream, scoop out deep groves through the dessert and fill them with the fruity puree.  Ripple it though the rest of the ice with a spoon but don’t over do it.

Cover with fresh cling film and leave to set for another 3 hours or so.

When it’s properly set, place it in the fridge about 20/30 minutes before you want to serve, this will mean the ice cream is easy to scoop out and is a nice texture for eating.

*probably the easiest ice cream I’ve ever made used a tub of ready made custard (it was a proper posh one so really had very little other than eggs, milk and vanilla in it) and a tub of cream.  I just emptied the custard in to a bowl, whipped the cream and slowly stirred it in and then put it in the freezer, taking it out every hour or so for the first few hours.  Then I made some deep groves through the semi set dessert and filled them with a home made lemon curd, slowly rippled it through and then popped it back in the freezer.  I took it out of the freezer and placed it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes before eating….eye closingly delicious and too easy for words.

7 thoughts on “Foraging for fruit and a Cherry Ripple Ice Cream……

  1. The ice cream sounds delicious. I had never heard of wild cherries before and would be afraid of picking the wrong thing and poisoning everyone!! The furthest we go with foraging is blackberries! I love the image of you trying to pick them, it gave me a little chuckle 🙂

    1. Basically they’re non cultivated cherries…we’re really lucky as where we live there are heaps of fruit trees…cherries, mirabelle and wild plums, apples along with sloes and elderberries…mostly I think the trees are older than the houses here so are possibly an orchard which was here originally. The wild cherries are the same to look at as ones you buy in the shops, they’re just smaller.
      Alys Fowler bought out a good book on foraging the other year and there is an excellent one by Richard Mabey called Food for Free.
      I didn’t mention how many I tasted while picking them, I came home with a red smear across my lips and cheeks like I was a naughty child who’d been at the jam xx

      1. You paint the most fantastic word pictures, if I was an artist I would try to draw them!! I will have to put the book on my Christmas list and then send Hubby out foraging 🙂 we do have a trail near here that used to be a railway line that is tarmac and accessible for me, so when we go blackberrying I shall have to see what else we can find!

      2. I wish I could send my boyfriend out foraging but I’m not too sure what he’d come home with.
        It’s often worth looking around to see what else is growing. About now I start taking out an old walking stick (goodness knows what I look like) but it means a lot more of those branches are reachable and it helps me keep face height brambles out of my hair..quite literally…last year I got tangled up and a friend had to help me out of the hedgerow..Cat-weasel has nothing on me xx

      3. I tend to wear my hair braided and crossed over at the back of my head so any brambles or pokey branches that catch really do seem to weave themselves in. When I catch myself in the hall glass on a return home I always do a double take as it’s not how I left the house.
        My stick is from a charity shop and it’s well worn. It cost a couple of pounds and was worth every penny xx (I’m sure it would also be good for poking children and husband if you thought they weren’t picking fast enough.)

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