A delicious home-made ice cream that uses a surprising Irish ingredient

JP McMahon: This recipe makes use of a fruit grown in Ireland for centuries

Fresh figs can form the basis of a delicious ice-cream

Fresh figs can form the basis of a delicious ice-cream

 

Nowadays few of us have the space or the time to grow our own fruit and vegetables and it’s easy to imagine that this was always the case. However, speaking to my father recently, he recounted how my grandmother’s wonderful lawn in Mount Merrion (on which we played croquet as kids) was once a vegetable garden that produced a myriad of vegetables and fruits.

Before the advent of the supermarket, if you wanted something, you grew it yourself. I never got to taste my grandmother’s gooseberries or pears, but I’m sure they would have tasted amazing.

Figs are another fruit that many have grown in Ireland. Indeed, many abbeys and monasteries would have grown them from the 12th century onwards. A huge solitary fig tree hangs over the River Corrib in Galway. Though the figs are never exactly palatable to eat raw off the tree, due to the cold weather in the west, the leaves provide a great flavour enhancer to curries, soups, ice creams and sorbets. The fruit can also be cooked in sugar or pickled, depending on whether you’re using the figs for savoury or sweet applications.

How to make fig leaf ice-cream with fresh figs and honey

For this recipe, you’ll need a few fresh fig leaves, but feel free to use another leaf instead, such as strawberry or blackberry.

Take five fig leaves and gently crush them. Place them in a pot with 225ml of milk and 500ml of cream. Bring to just below the boil and remove from heat. Allow the mixture to stand for 20 minutes before straining.

Meanwhile, whisk nine egg yolks with 300g of sugar. Pour the warm cream mixture over the eggs, whisking all the time. Put the custard mixture in the pot and warm gently until it thickens. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Churn in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s settings or freeze in a container and whisk every 30 minutes until frozen. To serve: quarter some fresh figs and garnish with a little honey and icing sugar. If serving from the freezer, remove the ice-cream 30 minutes before serving to ensure it is not too hard.

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