Tuesday, August 23, 2011


This vivid magenta ice cream is wonderfully easy to make and, for the most part, is free. Go and pick the elderberries now - they look like deep purple versions of mistletoe; small berries in a bunch, hanging from an eight-stemmed stalk. You'll find them in trees amongst early sloes and damsons and they'll be around for the next month. Their taste is musky and sharp and much less versatile than the blackberry - we don't use them in cooking very much - but get them swimming in sugar and they become berrily potent and sweet.



600ml double cream
100g caster sugar
4 egg yolks, room temperature, whisked
200g elderberries, de-stalked and washed
150g caster sugar

Heat the cream and sugar in a large saucepan and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and gently and slowly whisk in the egg yolks until thickened to a custard and evenly mixed. Set aside.

In another pan, gently heat the elderberries with the sugar, until the sugar has dissolved and the elderberries are just bursting. You do not want to overcook the berries but make them plump and juicy. Sieve the berries into another bowl, leaving pips and bits of rogue foliage behind. When both the custard and compote are cooled mix them together in a shallow metal bowl. Cover with cling film or tin foil and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill and set.

After 30 minutes give the custard a whisk and, unless you have a trendy ice cream machine, transfer to the freezer. Every two hours, whisk up the ice cream so that any ice crystals are mixed in. Do this two or three times before leaving the ice cream to set and freeze before serving. Mine took just over a night and a day to freeze but it depends on the temperature and the fullness of your freezer. It is best eaten within the week but can stay frozen, well covered, for longer.

Scrumptious with crushed Amaretti biscuits and a few fresh mint leaves.


  1. wow, i didn't know you could eat the dark purple elderberries no, everyone always uses the flower... makes sense I guess... lovely looking ice cream!

  2. when I was boarding our lovely head teacher took us foraging and she made us elderberry wine! i think icecream would have been better for 8 year olds! I will give this a try, if there are any elderberries left in a fortnight!

  3. It's not one that most people think of eating - and I have to say, raw, the berries are not too edible. Throw a few raspberries in while you're making the compote to sweeten it up even more!

  4. This sounds like a great way to use elderberries. I've only made elderberry rob, but this is much more adventurous and I do like the flavour.

  5. I am just going to try this with the elderberries from my garden!!