Cranberry Banana Ice Cream

Friday, December 6th, 2013

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In the four days between my making this ice cream and photographing it, Shane asked me every single night whether I’d taken the pictures yet – since he’s not allowed to eat the homemade ice cream until I can photograph it for the blog. A little whinier each night, he sounded a kid waiting for…well, his ice cream. Annoying and a slightly endearing all at once. Needless to say, he’s super-stoked to see this post go up!

This is a pretty simple recipe, and a tasty way to use up leftover cranberry sauce. By my best estimate, you’ll need about a cup of cranberry sauce per four to five bananas, which ultimately yields about a quart of ice cream. But just in case you like your ice cream with an extra cranberry kick, I included instructions for making two cups of sauce. You can stick with my basic recipe or swap it out for your own favorite version. Just be sure to simmer as much of the moisture out as you can!

Also, feel free to dress this up with chocolate chips and dried cranberries; cinnamon (~ 1 teaspoon), nutmeg (~ 1/4 tsp), and allspice (a dash); some extra lemon or orange zest, perhaps in addition to a few tablespoons of frozen OJ concentrate); or a shot of bourbon or triple sec.

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Cranberry Banana Ice Cream

(Makes a little more than a quart of ice cream.)

Ingredients

4 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest

(This makes about two cups of cranberry sauce, or enough for 1 to 1 1/2 or even 2 batches of ice cream, depending on how heavy your hand. You can use the leftovers as an ice cream sauce, in oatmeal, on savory foodstuffs, etc. If you’d rather not have any extras, reduce this recipe by half.)

4-5 overripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
sugar to taste (optional)
a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer, if needed

Directions

1. Begin by making the cranberry sauce. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Cook on medium, stirring occasionally, until the berries burst (about ten minutes). Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook until the sauce has thickened up considerable. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature until continuing to step #2.

2. Transfer one cup of the cranberry sauce to a food processor and pulse until it’s relatively smooth. Some chunks are okay.

3. Put the bananas in the food processor and pulse until smoothly blended. Most likely you’ll need to stir them by hand several times, as the frozen chunks tend to gather and become “stuck” on one side of the bowl. If necessary, add a splash of non-dairy milk or creamer to get things moving!

Alternately, you can allow the bananas to defrost on the counter top for 30 to 60 minutes beforehand, so that they’re easier to work with. Before putting them in the food processor, break them up into smaller chunks with a butter knife.

Note: Since introducing extra liquids (such as non-dairy milk) into the mix results in a slightly icier finished product, I prefer defrosting to non-dairy milk. If you’re in a hurry, pop the bananas in the microwave for 20 to 45 seconds instead.

4. If the bananas aren’t sweet enough for your taste (sometimes this happens if you freeze them before they’re sufficiently ripe), add a bit of sugar to taste. Any sugar works fine – white, brown, etc. – but I find that powdered sugar results in a smoother blend. If you’d like a stronger cranberry taste, add some more sauce.

5. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container. Enjoy immediately as soft serve, or pop the ice cream in the freezer for an hour+ for a firmer dessert. Store any leftovers in the freezer in an airtight container. If the frozen banana ice cream proves too hard to scoop, microwave it for ten seconds to help loosen it up (or let the container sit on the counter for ten to thirty minutes prior to eating, depending on room temp).

Product Review: Traverse Bay Fruit Co. Dried Cranberries

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Not bad, and you can’t beat the Subscribe & Save price!

four out of five stars

I’ve been eating cranberries in some form or another for about seven years, ever since I suffered an especially excruciating UTI. (Cranberries really do the trick – I haven’t had a single infection in all this time!) I started with cranberry juice, which I found I had to choke down; then I turned to pills, only to discover that most brands contain either gelatin (pulverized animal bone) and/or carmine (a dye made of crushed insects) – no thanks!

Finally I decided to try dried cranberries. I enjoy a quarter cup or so in my morning bowl of oatmeal (delish!), along with the occasional extra “dose” in cookies (chocolate chip!) and granola (make your own, it’s super-cheap!). The dogs like ‘em, too – I usually give everyone a small treat in the morning which doubles my daily usage to a half a cup. In other words, I go through a ton of cranberries.

For a while, I was buying Ocean Spray* cranberries in bulk from a certain online bulk foods store. I loved them – soft and juicy, always fresh – but wasn’t so crazy about having to store twenty pounds of cranberries in the fridge or pantry. Then I noticed that Amazon sells four-pound boxes that, when you factor in the Subscribe & Save price as well as the free shipping, are roughly the same price per pound – so I decided to give them a try.

Overall, these cranberries are tasty enough – though not as incredible as Ocean Spray’s cranberries. They’re a little stickier, for one, and unless you want huge chunks of cranberries in whatever it is you’re eating, you need to pry them apart prior to use. They also aren’t quite as fresh and plump as the OS variety (Ocean Spray sets a high bar, but still).

Still, they’re a great value. To me, it’s a toss-up between taste and convenience. For the time being (and especially because of the season – I have enough extra food lying about without adding a giant box of cranberries to the mix!), I’m content to settle for the smaller boxes of Traverse Bay Fruit Co. But I might switch back to my preferred brand sometime in the future (most likely when placing an unrelated order; vegan gummy bears, anyone?).

* At least, I think they were Ocean Spray brand; though the store didn’t advertise them as such, they came packaged in an Ocean Spray box. Your guess is as good as mine!

Updated to add: Since writing this review, I’ve received two more shipments of cranberries. These have been drier, not nearly as sticky, and thus much easier to handle. They’re somewhat similar to the “Ocean Spray” cranberries, but not quite as flavorful. So I guess the lesson is that you can expect the quality to vary from month to month?

(This review is also posted on Amazon. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined.)