Rhubarb Ice Cream is a throwback to simpler times when you made your own frozen treats every summer with ingredients you grew yourself. But even if you don’t have a backyard patch or a rhubarb sharing neighbor, grab yours from the produce aisle, this is too good to miss!
Rhubarb makes a fabulous ice cream flavor because of its natural tartness.
Rhubarb is famously tangy, and that actually helps the flavor shine through in this creamy ice cream (you can taste a similar effect in my fresh lemon ice cream). The perfect soft pink color comes from several stalks of rhubarb sliced and cooked down into a thick compote, it takes just a few minutes on the stove. After chilling I fold into a classic vanilla custard ice cream base. It churns up into the prettiest summer ice cream you’ve ever seen. Oh, and definitely steal a taste while it’s churning, that’s one of the best perks of making your own.
My rhubarb ice cream recipe starts with a few cups of sliced rhubarb.
It’s actually a vegetable, but we tend to use it as a fruit in cooking. You can see it looks like celery, even though the two aren’t related at all. You can eat the stalks raw, but they’re suuuuuper tart (not recommended,) so most of the time we cook it with sugar and make it into amazing desserts. Rhubarb’s a hardy perennial that grows almost like a weed in many parts of the country, so you might well have some growing nearby.
You can use red, pink, or green rhubarb in this recipe, it won’t matter for the flavor, but the darker your rhubarb, the prettier your ice cream will be.
How to make old fashioned rhubarb ice cream
- It starts with cooking the rhubarb. Why do I cook it? Because cooking it down enhances flavor and reduces the moisture in the fruit. Water is the enemy when it comes to ice cream because water creates ice crystals when it freezes.
- Next make a custard base with eggs, sugar, milk, and heavy cream. This makes the ice cream extra rich and creamy. And don’t stress about cooking up a custard, you’ll give it a quick strain through a sieve so we’ll catch any stray ‘scrambled’ eggs!
- Chill both mixtures until cold. I often do this the day before. Your ice cream base needs to be perfectly cold before adding it to your ice cream machine or it won’t churn as well.
- Churn the ice cream in your machine. Mine takes under 20 minutes.
- Spread the soft ice cream into a freezer container and freeze until scoop-able.
We get into a bit of a rhubarb mania every spring and summer here at the Great Island kitchen ~
- Rhubarb Scones
- Rhubarb Shortbread Crumble Tart
- Rhubarb Vanilla Bean Jelly
- Norwegian Rhubarb and Almond Cake
- Rhubarb Shortcake
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Rhubarb Ice Cream
- 13 ounces chopped rhubarb (369 grams or about 4 cups)
- 1/4 cup sugar (52 grams)
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice (more to taste)
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
- 2/3 cup sugar (135 grams)
- 1 cup whole milk (250 ml)
- 2 cups heavy cream (480 ml)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (you can also use a vanilla bean)
- Stir together the rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice, and a splash of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until some of the liquid has evaporated and the rhubarb is thick and soft. Be careful not to let it scorch on the bottom of your pan.
- Let the compote cool slightly then puree in a blender or food processor until completely smooth. Chill until cold.
- Meanwhile make the custard. Whisk the egg, yolks, sugar, and milk, making sure to break up the eggs completely. Heat the cream in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan until it starts to steam and gets little bubbles around the edge. Drizzle the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the whole thing back into the pan and heat on medium, stirring constantly, until the mixture just starts to thicken. Do not bring it to a boil.
- Strain the mixture through a sieve, stir in the vanilla, and let cool. Chill until cold.
- Mix the cold rhubarb with the cold custard sauce and thoroughly blend. Pour into your ice cream maker and churn according to the instructions. Spread the soft ice cream into a container and freeze until scoopable.
notes and variations