I had always thought that an ice cream maker was a necessity in order to make ice cream at home, and therefore, not owning an ice cream maker, I ruled out making it. However, making no churn ice cream without an ice cream maker is so unbelievably easy, using only a few ingredients. I can’t believe I’d never tried it before! For my first dabble in ice cream making, I decided to use blackberries, a delicious hedgerow fruit, to create a perfect auntumnal (or fall!) dessert, and make the most of the warm (for now…) weather.
Many homemade ice cream recipes include raw eggs, which I have to admit, rather put me off. I try to avoid eating raw eggs as a general rule. But then I discovered that you didn’t need to include raw egg in ice cream. Great! This ice cream recipe is incredibly easy, and the hardest part is waiting for it to set in the freezer!
To get the creamy texture of store bought ice cream, you need a magic ingredient: condensed milk. Condensed milk is cows milk that has been reduced by evaporation and is usually sweetened with sugar. This makes it different from evaporated milk, which is unsweetened. Before the invention of condensed milk, milk could only be kept fresh for a short while (fridges had, unfortunately, not been invented) and you kind of had to have a cow in the vicinity. Condensed milk, on the other hand, can be kept for years in an unopened can. It is used as a substitute for fresh milk in many different beverages and sweet treats such as fudge and caramel!
The idea of a canned milk product came to the American Gail Borden Jr. in 1852 while onboard a transatlantic boat trip. Borden vowed to find a safe milk product following the deaths of a number of children on ship after drinking contaminated milk. Inspired by the process used to condense fruit juice, he used a vacuum evaporator to kill the bacteria in the milk and successfully reduce its water content. In 1857 Borden established a company to produce his product and in 1858 created the New York Condensed Milk Company with his new partner Jeremiah Milbank. Borden had high requirements when it came to the milk he used to create his condensed milk. Farmers had to keep their barns and cows extremely clean, and sterilise their strainers twice a day.
It was not an unqualified success, with many people criticising its appearance and taste. Despite this, he continued to license more factories to produce the product. During the American Civil War, the government ordered huge amounts of Borden’s condensed milk (now renamed as the patriotic-sounding Eagle Brand) as part of the rations for the Union soldiers. This increased the popularity of the milk enormously, and by the late 1860s it was a major commercial product.
By this time other companies were developing their own versions and vying for their place on the market. One such company, the Ango-Swiss Condensed Milk Company, was founded in Switzerland. John Baptist Meyenberg, one of the employees of the company, suggested they used a similar process but without adding sugar, creating evaporated milk. When his idea was rejected, he emigrated to America where he started producing the first commercial brand of evaporated milk under the Helvetica Milk Condensing Company in the 1890s. He partnered with Meyenberg in 1899 to sell evaporated milk in cans. The First World War reignited interest in the canned product due to the fact that it could be easily stored and transported.
The use of condensed milk in ice cream means that ice crystals do not form as it has such a low water content. As such, churning is not required, and you end up with a lovely smooth and creamy texture, with no fuss at all and hardly any effort! Blackberries, in season right now, add a delicious flavour and colour to this frozen treat. This ice cream is beautifully creamy and decadent, and I find that a relatively small serving is all I need!
No Churn Blackberry Ice Cream
- 1/2 x 397g can condensed milk
- 150g blackberries
- juice of 1 lemon
- 300 ml cream (double cream is preferrable)
- Place the blackberries and lemon juice into a lidded saucepan and heat gently for about 5-10 minutes until the blackberries are soft and have created a syrup. Pour into a bowl.
- Mash up the blackberries with a fork or spoon to create a purée, leaving bits of berry whole if desired. Alternatively, if you want a really smooth ice cream, you could press the berries through a sieve to get rid of any bits. Leave for about 15 minutes to cool.
- Stir in the condensed milk, followed by the cream, and whisk until combined.
- Pour into an airtight container, secure the lid and place in the freezer overnight.
- Take out of the freezer about 20-25 minutes before serving to let it soften.