One of my favorite summertime activities during my childhood was picking black raspberries from an abandoned farmstead behind my parents home. Armed with buckets and bowls and wearing long sleeved shirts and pants to protect us from thorns, we would march past what was once was a driveway, still lined with ancient maple trees, past the crumbling foundation of the pump house, and past the chard remains of a hundred-and-fifty-something year old home. It was then that we would descend on the wild black-raspberry plants like a colony of worker bees, happily picking for hours, and not wishing to stop even when the last bucket was filled to the brim. My mother would make batch after batch of black raspberry jam, and we would return for days on end, picking every last berry. Even then, we knew how short the black-raspberry season was. Eventually, bulldozers came and razed the entire property, streets were built, sewer lines put in, and an entire neighborhood now stands where that old farmstead once did.
I have been trying to cultivate my own black raspberry plants for the past few years, and, although I have yet to grow enough to make even one batch of jam, I have made an (if I do say so myself) outstanding black raspberry and peach ice cream. A silky custard base, combined with vanilla bean, and fresh peaches and black raspberries, comes together to create an ice-cream, that tastes like a bite of summer. These are the flavors of my childhood, and I am inviting you to share them with me.
Be sure to cook the custard base at least 6 hours before you plan on making the ice cream – it needs to chill for quite a while. It is also a very versatile base, don’t like peaches or black raspberries? Just sub out 1.5 cups of your favorite fruit. Not a fan of fruit? This is an excellent base for vanilla or chocolate ice cream too.