Tuesday, September 8, 2009

tropical fruit salad ice cream

The centerpiece of this ice cream was supposed to fruit salad fruit a.k.a. ceriman, a.k.a. Monstera deliciosa fruit. This is yet another tropical fruit grown locally and unknown in more temperate climes. I neglected to take an establishing shot of the one I got from Sawmill Farm in the summer CSA offering so here's a copyright free image I ganked from Wikipedia.

You can't really tell because of the lighting, but it's covered with hexagonal scales. That's an unripe fruit where they're all securely covering the fruit inside. As it ripens, starting at the stem end, rows of scales loosen and fall off revealing arrays of kernels of fruit looking very much like a corncob.

The kernels themselves also come loose from a central hub as they ripen. You can see the black nasty crud that comes with them in this photo. You can also probably see some variation in the fruit kernels there. There's a wave of ripeness that progresses down the fruit. The rows that came off easily were ripe, the ones in the top row you can see are nearly there and the one below isn't quite yet.

That's all pretty cool, I think. The difficulty comes in the fact that underripe ceriman, like a fair number of other non-commerialized tropical fruits we can get locally, is toxic. Even slightly underripe bits cause an hour of burning and swelling in the mouth and throat and a rather upset stomach. (A word of warning in the CSA information would have been appreciated, Margie.) And the ripe fruit, since it's exposed, goes to rot and drawing ants pretty darn quick.

No doubt that's a pretty efficient way for this fruit to propogate the species, but it's dicey for personal consumption and nothing I'm willing to risk serving anyone else. And that's a shame since it tastes really good. The flavor somewhere between pineapple and banana and, when ripe, quite sweet. (I actually liked it better slightly underripe. For the first few seconds, anyway.) You can see how it got the name 'fruit salad fruit'. How it got the name 'Swiss cheese fruit' is less obvious until you see the holes in the plant's leaves.

So that went into the trash. But I still had some leftover mamey sapote, a pile of passion fruit and some fingerling bananas so I could cobble something together. I ended up with:

1/4 mamey sapote (maybe half a cup)
2 fingerling bananas, frozen and defrosted (about as much as one medium Cavendish)
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup cream
pulp and seeds of seven passion fruits (no more than a third of a cup)
2 teaspoons vanilla paste
pinch salt
1/2 cup or so Dole piña colada juice cocktail to thin the mix out

I was torn over using the condensed milk or coconut milk. My instincts said coconut milk would work better, but you see condensed milk paired with mameys and passion fruit in a lot of recipes so I thought I'd give it a try. I know that pairing comes more from lack of refrigeration than from deep culinary thoughtfulness, but I've got a good idea how it would taste with coconut milk and I didn't have a sense how it would work with condensed milk and I wanted to find out.

Not much procedure in making the ice cream mix. The mamey and bananas went into a blender with the dairy and I mixed in the rest by hand.

I found the easiest way to harvest the passion fruit pulp was to slice a disc (not the correct geometric term but I'm having trouble finding the right one) out of the side of a fruit and then dig out the pulp with a teaspoon. Slice the fruit entirely in half and you can just scrape it out, but you may well make a mess if the pulp isn't firmly attached to the rind.

And I might mention that this is my first time using vanilla paste which is vanilla extract mixed with sugar, water and a little bit of vanilla bean pulp and seeds. The flavor seems somewhat richer and I do like the visual effect of the little specks of vanilla distributed through the ice cream. But the added sugar has to be compensated for in recipes and I wouldn't want to use it in savory dishes (for which vanilla seems to be an in thing right now). I guess I ought to keep both paste and extract on hand. And some whole beans too if I can find some at a reasonable price.

Anyway, here's the ice cream coming out of the churn. I got a late start on it due to the problems with the ceriman so, since I wanted to make this a Wednesday post, I wasn't able to fully chill either the bucket or the mix and I did the churning in a kitchen hotter than ideal. So still a bit soft when I ran out of cold.

But the end result's not bad looking:

Taking it out of the churn slightly soft means a dense, but still scoopable, creamy final product that melts slowly in the bowl, but quickly on the tongue. Sometimes that's what you're going for; I'm not sure it helps in this particular case. The flavor is a base of condensed milk with the melded flavor of the fruits lightening it up and the vanilla tying them together. That's only if you think hard about it; It's all pretty well blended. It's impossible to pick out the flavors of the individual fruits unless you hit a passionfruit seed which comes coated with a thin layer of brightly flavored passion fruit pulp. That jelly-like texture and the crisp crunch of the seeds are a pleasant contrast once the rich creaminess has faded. If you don't get a seed, the condensed milk flavor outlasts the fruit for a caramelly finish.

I think coconut milk would have given me cleaner flavors, but I do like how the condensed milk's flavor complimented the fruit. Either way is worth trying.


kat said...

Interesting ice cream flavor & I learned about a fruit we'll never see up here in MN

Margie said...

Oh, gee, sorry about that! I was in such a hurry to get the info out so folks would have time to order that I didn't think to add additional information about the monstera (aka ceriman). I understand you had an unpleasant experience eating the underripe fruit. You obviously read something about it, since you found those great pictures. However, I think you overreacted by throwing it out! That's a shame, because it's a very nice fruit with a great flavor. A little more reading may have changed your mind. Again, I apologize for the lack of warning. The dark flecks are oxalic acid, which can be toxic in very large quantities (spinach has it too- don't you eat spinach?). As you noticed, the more underripe the fruit, the more of it is present. The oxalic acid crystals are irritating, hence the 'burning' feeling, and the fully ripe pieces, if they still bother you, can be rinsed to remove even more of the remaining crystals. You can cut off the ripe portions and store it in the fridge. It changes color from white to a pale yellow, but is still good. Actually, the best way to tell that it's ripe is when it becomes transluscent and soft. I'm sorry you didn't get to enjoy your entire fruit!

billjac said...

I threw it out because the bottom half was still underripe while top half was rotting. Rows went straight from one state to the other either overnight or while I was at work so I missed the short window of safe ripeness. There must be some way to manage the process, but I couldn't find it.

I did get to try a few fully ripe pieces right at the start and, I agree, had a great flavor. Then I went a row too far and, well, once bitten twice shy.

If you offer some again, I'll give it another shot.