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How to make wild strawberry and thyme ice cream

Naturalist, artist and nature writer Tiffany Francis shares her recipe for a summery ice cream from foraged fruit and herbs.

Fresh wild strawberries. Tobias Titz/Getty

Is there anything more glorious than fresh ice cream in the sunshine? Wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are bursting with flavour from June to August, and can be found growing on grassy banks, woodlands, scrub and chalky soil.

Wild thyme (Thymus serpyllum) is a wonderfully aromatic herb, and just a sprinkle will bring this recipe to life. Look out for it on heathland, dry grasses and sandy soils, where it attracts bees and common blue butterflies.

Serve in scoops with chewy meringue or squashed into a cone for long walks in the woods.

Hawthorn vinegar. © Tiffany Francis
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Ingredients

  • Caster sugar 60g
  • Wild strawberries 300g, rinsed
  • Wild thyme 1/2 tsp, rinsed and chopped
  • Lemon zest 1/2 a lemon, grated
  • Whole milk 150ml
  • Double cream 150ml
  • Egg yolks 3, beaten

Method

  • Step 1

    Pop the strawberries, chopped thyme and lemon zest into a bowl and gently mash with a fork to release the juices. Sprinkle with 30g of the caster sugar and leave covered for an hour.

  • Step 2

    Add the milk and cream to a saucepan and bring to boil over a medium heat. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar and beaten egg yolks until mixed thoroughly.

  • Step 3

    Pour the warm milk mixture over the eggs and whisk well. Then return the whole mixture to the pan and stir continuously over a medium heat until it thickens into custard.

  • Step 4

    Fold in the strawberries, thyme and lemon and beat well. If you prefer your ice cream without chunks, you can now add the mixture to a processor and blend until smooth.

    When you are happy with the consistency, pour the mixture into a plastic tub and store in the freezer until solid.


Tiffany Francis-Baker is a nature writer and illustrator from the South Downs in Hampshire. She is the author of several non-fiction books, including Dark Skies: A Journey into the Wild Night, a nature memoir about the landscape after dark. In 2019, she was chosen as a Writer-in-Residence for Forestry England to celebrate their centenary year. She has written, edited and illustrated for a number of national publications, including The Guardian, Harper’s Bazaar, BBC Countryfile, BBC Wildlife and Resurgence & Ecologist, as well as appearing on BBC Radio 4 and Channel 4. She is a Custodian for the South Downs National Park and also runs a small business selling her own ethically designed gifts and stationery.

Tiffany Francis-Baker 2

This is a recipe from Food You Can Forage by Tiffany Francis, published Bloomsbury Wildlife.

Food You Can Forage

Main image: Fresh wild strawberries. © Tobias Titz/Getty

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