Cantaloupe Ice Cream
The fifth in a series on ice creams, custards and sorbets
Jim Berman CCI
Cantaloupe ice cream is a tough gig. There are variables that need addressed; the sweetness of the cantaloupe is a biggie. The ripeness is another. And when pondering a frozen dessert with cantaloupe, it is even a tough call to go the ice cream route or the custard path. Of course, a sorbet would be an easy option. The seasonality of this melon makes for interesting fodder for the frozen churner. Color is a consideration, as well. In this fifth installment on frozen dessert making, there is a bit of troubleshooting to address. Cantaloupe screams Summer! To make the leap from the vine to the ice cream dish is worth the effort.
I conceptualized and ruminated on the outcome then worked backwards. Some ‘body’ from the melon would be nice, but I wanted to avoid frozen chunks of the fruit, much like you would find in Italian ice. Also, big crystally chunks of melon would interfere with the texture for which I am shooting. So, I opted to simmer about 3 cups (one ‘normal’ sized melon for this early in the season) in a simple syrup of one cup cup sugar to one cup water. The hope was that the sweetness of the syrup would be enough to bring out enough sugar in the finished product. Also, by stewing the fruit in the syrup, I would avoid the rock-solid chunks and get a melded orange color throughout the finished product. The plan was to blend the cooked melon with the syrup after a twenty minute cook, strain the thick stuff and use whatever made it through the chinois, then fold in a scoop or two of the solid stuff for interest.
Very soon into the stewing process, I realized the straining would not be necessary. The cantaloupe was nearly texture-less, which is acceptable as it will remove the straining step and, perhaps, bring some color to the finished product by having a greater presence rather than just the strained by-product. Sampling the cooked melon also revealed an issue; there was very little flavor left but it was sickening sweet. I made the ice cream anyhow, as flavors tend to bloom when allowed to sit in the finished ice cream overnight. Not this time. Oh, and did I mention that there was no color, either?I could live with that, but a vivid orange would be nice on the plate.
Version 2.0 cut the sugar to ¾ of a cup to one cup of water and a whopping 6 cups of melon. Same cook time, return of the straining step and no added liquid.
Cantaloupe Ice Cream
6 cups, cantaloupe, peeled, seeded, large dice
¾ cup, granulated sugar
1 cup, water
3 cups, heavy cream
2 cups, milk
Pinch of salt
Simmer the cantaloupe with the sugar and water for 15 minutes, until the melon is very soft. Strain and discard the liquid. Chill strained melon. Stir chilled fruit (which should be about 4 cups at this point), cream, milk and salt into frozen dessert machine. As in the previous installments, we use the Lello Musso Pola 5030 Dessert Maker. The machines runs about 20 minutes, using care not to over-churn. Remove from the machine and freeze overnight, at least six hours.
The result? Ice cream that tastes like a sunny day.