Make this super simple bourbon cherry no-churn ice cream your summer’s coolest indulgence! Smooth, creamy and incredibly delicious. Post sponsored by Marks and Spencer.
My obsession with cherries has reached a new peak especially after my recent visit to Sidnall Farm in Pencombe, home to Lower Hope Cherries. I was invited by Marks and Spencer to their exclusive event as part of their Sparks loyalty scheme. I was joined by several Sparks members all eager to explore the cherry orchards which supply Marks and Spencer and other retailers with the best British cherries.
Sidnall Farm’s history spans hundreds of years and the current farmhouse is a listed building from the 18th Century. The first cherry tree was planted in 1994 and these days the farm has thousands of cherry trees growing under Polytunnels. Growing the cherries under cover enables the farm to reliably supply cherries from the beginning of July until the end of August and, hopefully, beyond.
The cherry trees are planted a meter apart allowing for high yield. One look at the branches literally laden with plump cherries and you can see just how successful the farm is. The cherries are allowed to ripen on the trees ensuring they are full of flavour. Seasonal staff stays on site – literally within view of the trees – to pick the fruit during the cherry season.
We then visited the packing and storage facilities, wearing extremely fetching white coats and hairnets, to see the state-of-the-art grading machine which helped the farm revolutionise their methods. Rather than having the workers manually assess the fruit while picking, this incredible machine takes hundreds of photos of each cherry while they are rolling on a conveyor belt.
The machine assesses each cherry for imperfections, size and colour – only the best cherries make it through to be packaged, graded by size. Inferior cherries and blown off the belt by a jet of air – but don’t feel to badly about them as they are sold on to someone locally.
The best cherries, which can be found at Marks and Spencer, are enormous, sweet and incredibly juicy. They are also super versatile as chef Adam Palmer is there to demonstrate. I have to admit I couldn’t really think of any savoury recipes using cherries, but after biting into bruschetta topped with goat’s cheese, chutney and fresh cherries I see the error of my ways!
Chef Palmer then prepared an incredible cherry salsa, packed with fresh ginger, chillies and herbs to serve with duck breasts. I wish I had managed to take a shot of the plated duck but we were all far to eager to try it! This dish was certainly an eye opener – and one I am determined to recreate at home.
I didn’t think I could possibly have any space for dessert but how can you refuse cherry Eton Mess and cherry crisp served with clotted cream ice cream? Sadly I hardly had time to enjoy my last bite before having to make my trip back to the station at Hereford for my long journey back to London.
Luckily I was carrying a bag full of cherries I picked at the farm and I must admit to eating my way through most of a punnet before getting back home! I did save my punnet of Marks and Spencer ‘Kings’ cherries to make this super-easy no churn ice cream.
I cooked my cherries with sugar, bourbon and lemon juice then folded them into whisked sour and double cream together with some crushed ginger biscuits. The resulting ice cream is smooth, creamy and utterly delicious! Don’t worry about serving it to kids either – the alcohol is burned off during cooking. If you would rather not use alcohol at all, you can replace it with apple juice.
- 350g | 12oz fresh pitted cherries, halved
- 200g | 7oz sugar
- 60ml | ¼ cup bourbon (replace with apple juice)
- juice of ½ a lemon
- 300ml | 10fl oz double (heavy) cream
- 300ml | 10fl oz sour cream
- 100g | 3½oz icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 4 ginger or digestive biscuits, crushed
- extra fresh cherries to serve
- Place the cherries, bourbon, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan.
- Stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
- Gradually bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes. Leave to cool completely.
- Put the double cream, sour cream, icing sugar and vanilla in the bowl of your stand mixer.
- Whisk at maximum speed until your have soft peaks.
- Fold in the cherries and crushed biscuits.
- Transfer to a loaf tin, cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 6 hours or overnight.
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