Kate Johnson: Rhubarb cherry ice cream ribbon (recipe)

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Our wonderful spring has resulted in bountiful harvests from the garden this year. I have made a number of fresh English pea salads (recipe shared back in 2019), eaten some delicious greens with baby turnips, snap peas and fresh onion and used baby garlic and herbs to top focaccia bread. On top of the vegetables, I had a bumper crop of rhubarb, some very delectable strawberries and a small but delicious harvest of Nanking tart cherries.

The Nanking cherry bushes did not produce enough cherries to make syrup or jelly this year, due to heavy snow damage which required Mark to do a major pruning. But the cherries that it did produce were pretty large and very tart and delicious! I decided to make a “ribbon” for some ice cream with the cherries and the last of the rhubarb that I had on hand.

Today I am sharing my process for making the ice cream “ribbon,” along with one of my favorite recipes for salted caramel ice cream. The weather is warming up and there is nothing better than ice cream to keep you cooled down! I personally feel like you cannot go wrong with salted caramel. It literally goes with EVERYTHING and always tastes so darn good! I do prefer a custard-based ice cream - it takes a bit more work, but it is always worth the effort.

Here are my tips for making ice cream:

If you are making a custard-based ice cream start early in the morning so that it still nice and cool when you are cooking. It makes the entire process much more enjoyable.

It is really important to let your base cool to room temperature BEFORE chilling it - otherwise, I have found that it can crystalize.

It still tastes good, but it is so much nicer if the end product is nice and creamy. To ensure that you cool it well enough, it is really best to start a day ahead!

Put your ice cream maker’s container into the freezer for at least 4 hours before using and preferably overnight. If you have processed your base for around 40 minutes and it still isn’t really thick, do not worry - you will be surprised how much it will set up after it has had some time in the freezer.

Your “ribbon” can be made with anything that you fancy and, of course, added to whatever flavor ice cream you love. It is a way for you to use what you have and to take your ice cream to a new and unique level.

I personally do not care for overly sweet deserts; therefore, I choose tart fruit and use less sugar. But you could use any kind of fruit or, for that matter, chocolate, peanut butter, nuts, etc. to make it your own.

Ice cream ribbon

3/4 pound of rhubarb diced into small pieces

1 scant cup of sugar

1-2 cups of tart cherries


Place diced rhubarb and sugar into a saucepan and heat on medium heat until the rhubarb is tender but not mushy (about 5 minutes). Remove the rhubarb with a slotted spoon and add the cherries to the syrup and cook until the cherries are nice and soft.

Take the cherries out with a slotted spoon and place them into a fine strainer and press the juices and pulp out over the pot until you have gotten all the cherries out and separated the pulp from the pits. Discard the pits and allow the mixture to continue cooking on medium low heat until it is nice and thick.

Once the syrup has thickened, add it (with the cherry pulp) back into the rhubarb and mix well. Allow this to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or, preferably, overnight.

If you are doing a single fruit, cook the fruit until it is fork tender and remove with slotted spoon to a bowl. Allow the syrup to continue cooking down until it is nice and thick. Then, add it back to the cooked fruit and allow to cool as above.

Once you have processed your ice cream you simply place the finished ice cream into a container and either layer it with your fruit compote or place the compote on top. Either way will result in a nice addition of fruit with each scoop! Enjoy and stay cool!

Kate Johnson is a long-time resident of Carson City. She is an avid gardener, cook, musician and lover of dogs. 


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