Cooking,  Local Products

Eat Local America : Tart Cherry Ice Cream

This is the first post in the 2013 Eat Local America! Challenge series. Each year Minnesota co-ops celebrate the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables available August by promoting a month of local eating. Minnesota Locavore and readers around the state are taking the challenge to eat meals made from local ingredients. Stop back all month long for recipes, local products and tips for jump starting your month of local food. 

Farmers Market Fruit Stand

On a recent Saturday morning trip to the St. Paul Farmers’ Market one farm stand stopped me in my tracks. The vendor’s table was small but filled with what I consider to be the best of Minnesota summertime: fresh blueberries, raspberries, currants and cherries. I pulled out my camera and started snapping away before Greg elbowed me.


Oh. Of course. The vendor was standing with that “Minnesota nice” smile. You know, the one that says ‘I’m happy to stand here so you can impress your friends on Facebook later. But you had better be buying something after this.’ No worries. We walked away with a market bag full of goodies, including a pint of tart cherries.

Tart Cherries

On the way back to the car Greg popped one in his mouth. His face puckered up, his eyes closed and he barely choked the thing down. He was expecting the same mild sweetness of the Bing cherries we get at the co-op every so often. Not so much.

“What are you going to do with those?” he asked. Tart cherry ice cream of course!

Tart Cherries with Sugar

Vanilla ice cream matches perfectly for the tangy, lip-puckering cherries. Most people sugar up tart cherries in a slice of pie à la mode. I skipped the pie part and went straight for the ice cream this time. The cherries were from the farmer outside of the Twin Cities and the dairy is from Valley View Farms in Hastings, MN.

I gotta say, what better way to start a month of local food than with ice cream? Be sure to check back in later this week for more about the Eat Local America Challenge and how to start your own challenge!

Tart Cherry Ice Cream

Tart Cherry Ice Cream 

Note: In my first recipe, in my excitement for ice cream I didn’t pit the cherries. Once frozen they turn into rock hard marbles. Not so good on the teeth and not so great for blending with the vanilla ice cream. I recommend pitting the cherries and slicing them in half for better texture and a nice light pink tint to the ice cream. 


1 pint of tart pie cherries
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1. Prepare ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. I use a KitchenAid mixer ice cream maker attachment that requires freezing overnight before making the recipe. Also, freeze the empty container with lid that you plan to put the ice cream in. This will prevent the edges from melting if the cold ice cream were to go into a room-temperature container.

2. Wash and remove any stems or debris from cherries. Cut in half and remove pits. Sprinkle cherries with 1 Tbsp. of sugar and toss to coat. Refrigerate covered until needed.

3. Combine cream, milk, remaining sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved (about 3 minutes). Refrigerate 3-4 hours or overnight. The colder the ice cream base the better the texture of the ice cream later on.

4. When the base has been chilled, pour into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s directions. Add the chilled cherries during the last 5 minutes of churning time. This recipe does improve after setting for a few hours in a very cold freezer. That is if you can resist the temptation!


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