Recently, The New York Times did a popular post about how easy it is to make Mason jar ice cream. The Gray Lady is right: this project is super enticing and quick. You need four ingredients (more if you want to get crazy, which we will), a 16-ounce Mason jar, and a spare half hour.
There is also a way to make a very Arizonan style of Mason jar ice cream, using only native and/or local ingredients.
Since National Ice Cream Day is July 19, and Phoenix summers are simply a killer, let’s make some ice cream.
The New York Times’ Basic Mason Jar Ice Cream (verbatim)
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
A 16 oz Mason jar, of course.
Yield: About three servings.
Phoenix New Times’ Basic Mason Jar Ice Cream
1 cup Danzeisen Dairy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons Sprouts Organic Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 tablespoons of vanilla-bean infused sugar by go lb salt
A pinch of Fumee de Sel Sea Salt by go lb salt
A 16-ounce washed spaghetti sauce jar
Yield: You can definitely eat half this thing alone.
Many of these items can be found at Sprouts grocery stores, at any farmers market, or via pickup from Sphinx Date Co. Palm & Pantry in Scottsdale.
1. The salt and sugar are a little coarse. So, once you have your increments, give them a little muddling for a finer add-in.
2. Get the cream, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt into the jar, then put a lid on it.
3. Shake the shit out of it. It will start to thicken after a few minutes and feel heavier in your hand. By the time the inside looks more like batter, you’re good.
4. Stick the jar in the freezer for three hours or more.
NYT also spells out how to spruce up your jarred dessert, recommending berries, chocolates, peanut butter, Earl Grey tea, and even rosemary and olive oil. But we can definitely shoot for add-ins with an Arizona twist.
The most Southwestern ingredient that first came to mind as an ice cream addition was dates. Specifically, Arizona Medjool dates.
Take anywhere from three to five (or more; it’s your ice cream) Fancy Grade Medjool Dates and start slicing. Blend or muddle them for a finer mixture or chop for some heavier texture in each bite. Add your glop of dates in with the cream, sugar, salt, and extract, then shake like hell.
Another go-to Arizona ingredient is the prickly pear. While we didn’t have any of the fresh fruits on hand, we did add Prickly Pear Jelly from the Phoenix-based Cotton Country Jams to our concoction. Scoop anywhere from one to three tablespoons of the jelly and add to the jar. Then, of course, shake.
Then you wait.
After multiple, high-pressure hours, our two flavors emerged safely from the freezer. (I don’t know why I thought something was going to explode.)
The prickly pear jar looked and scooped exactly like any old grocery store or dessert shop ice cream — though it did need an extra hour in the freezer. The jam flavor was definitely there, despite the ice cream not being overly pink like other prickly pear products. It was also incredibly sweet, so for those using jelly or jam as a mix-in, aim for less sugar.
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The date-packed jar had a chalkier texture, kind of like the inside of a cold Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. It leaves a film in your mouth, but it was also the preferred flavor of the two. Next time, I will add way more finely chopped dates (they all sank to the bottom).
For future batches, some locally sourced pecans or heat from some chiltepines would be ideal. And certainly some chunks from one of our great, local chocolate companies, which are currently delivering.
And if you easily conquered this Mason jar method, maybe it’s time to level up to making ice cream in a plastic bag.