Rhubarb is one of those flavours that evokes a strong like or dislike from those that were introduced to it as a child, maybe the school dinner experience left a long lasting scar. With the right balance of sugar and perhaps combined with another fruit it gives you a sweet & sour satisfying taste.  It’s ying & yang in your mouth.  How much sugar you add to rhubarb is of course personal taste.  I think my mother who adores rhubarb with only a pinch of sugar is in a minority camp.

It was a promising start of Summer a little while back when I came home with the rhubarb from Marylebone High Street Farmer’s Market.  The hot weather was here and out of the freezer came the base for my ice-cream machine. The Summer rhubarb being less pink than its Winter forced Cousin,  my little head set about thinking how I was going to make rhubarb & custard ice-cream without loosing most of its colour once cooked and added to cream?

I wanted rhubarb & custard ice-cream in a swirl pattern, I wanted a contrast between the pinkness of the rhubarb and the custard but unless I added food colouring or go the way chef Tristan Welch’s route from the BBC Great British Menu, of adding lecithin, carrageenan and vegetable oil, I was going to end with a pale rhubarb ice-cream swirled with custard colour ice-cream so I lost interest and put my idea to rest. 

Rhubarb & custard ice-cream is delicious and worth making but this process led me to partner rhubarb with raspberry.  Rhubarb and strawberries is a well established partnership so how about  pairing it with the vibrant pink of pureed raspberries.  They turned out to be not only a great partner in colour but in taste too.  The raspberries don’t overpower the taste of the rhubarb. 

I ended with two recipes both pretty much the same and very simple,  Rhubarb & Raspberry

Ice-cream turned out a baby pink and Rhubarb & Raspberry & Rosewater Sorbet very vibrant.

In this recipe I used the very thick cream you can buy now available in all supermarkets, it’s usually along the lines of extra thick double cream.  The reason I ended up with this and not normal double cream was because I made the fatal error of sending BikerBoy to the shops to buy it. 

If you have normal double cream I would just whip it until it’s thick but still very loose, halfway whipped than you would normally do.  I would also recommend to replace the cream with the very good ready made real vanilla custard tubs now available in the chiller cabinets of the supermarket.  I suspect it will also work very well with yogurt too, choose a full fat variety for best results, the Greek style yogurt would be good.

Rhubarb & Raspberry Ice-cream

500g rhubarb chopped roughly into 1 inch pieces

150g raspberries

100g sugar (more will be needed for adjusting the taste after cooking)

300ml /10floz / 1  ¼ cup thick double cream

Cook down the rhubarb with the sugar and tablespoon of water slowly with the lid on until the rhubarb has cooked down, it can take 20mins to 30mins you want to end up with all the stalks turned into a pulp.

If you hate the raspberries seeds in the ice cream then my suggestion would be whiz the raspberries first in a blender with a tablespoon of water until a puree and sieve it to remove the seeds. 

If like me I don’t mind the raspberry seeds in the ice-cream then  simply add the raspberries at the last minute of your rhubarb being ready and stir to brake up the raspberries, turn off the heat.

Once the mixture is cool enough to taste for sweetness, adjust it making the mixture slightly sweeter than you would normally like it, because when things are frozen they will taste duller and less sweeter.

Mix in the thick double cream until the mixture is homogenous and you have a gorgeous pink colour and churn it in your ice-cream machine.

Making Ice-cream or Sorbet by Hand

If you don’t have an ice-cream maker (I’ve only had mine for 2 yrs) you still can make the icecream, it just means more work on your part.  Every 1.5-2 hrs when it’s semi frozen take it out of the freezer put it into a big bowl and preferably using your electric beaters whisk it until it’s all soft again and you’ve broken down the large ice crystals that been forming. 

You should repeat this process another 2 to 3 times more to end up with a satisfactory texture.  What you’re trying to do each time is to stop the large ice crystals forming and the more times you beat it while the icecream is freezing the smoother texture you’ll have, which is essentially what a ice-cream machine does for you.

Rhubarb & Raspberry & Rosewater Sorbet

This sorbet is just the fruit and sugar, and because I haven’t diluted with any water you’ll end with an intense fruit flavour at the end.  In my version I added rosewater, just few drops but I think next time I’ll leave it out and just have the two fruits.  The sugar is only a guide and once the rhubarb is cooked down and the raspberries mixed in you’ll have to keep tasting it and adjusting the sweetness, it will be easier to dissolve the sugar whilst the mixture is hot.  If you want to remove the pips from the raspberries, before you mix them into the rhubarb either push the raspberries through a sieve and discard the seeds or blitzer in a blender and again sieve it to remove seeds.

800g Rhubarb

300g Raspberries

150g sugar (more to adjust later)

rosewater (optional)

Cook down the rhubarb with sugar in a pan with a lid on with on tablespoon of water until the rhubarb stalks have disintegrated.  When the rhubarb is ready and if you don’t mind the raspberry pips then add the raspberries to the pan with the rhubarb and cook them down for another few seconds.

When the mixture is well broken down like the picture below let it cool down enough for you to taste it for sweetness.  Add more sugar if necessary it should be sweeter than you would normally like it as the taste will be dulled when frozen.  If you wish you add a couple drops of rosewater do it now and stir thoroughly, taste it again and adjust.  (be aware it’s easy to overpower it with the rosewater)

Put the mixture in the liquidiser and blend it until a very smooth puree like the picture above left.  Pour it into your ice-cream machine.  If you don’t have a ice-cream maker see my notes above for making ice-cream by hand.

You should have a vibrant luscious colour pink sorbet