Rhubarb and Black Pepper Ice Cream


A scoop of rhubarb and black pepper ice cream

Rhubarb and Black pepper Ice cream.

This was something of an experiment. If black pepper marries with strawberries and caramel and such like then why not with rhubarb which also has an inherent sweetness hidden behind its natural sourness. The quantity of black pepper looks a little alarming but it works like magic, deepening and extending the full flavour of the rhubarb.  The actual colour of the ice cream was an unappealing greenish pink but the addition of a small quantity of powdered pink food colouring or cochineal brings the whole effect to life.

Serves 8-10 as an accompaniment or 4 cones

Custard base

300ml double cream

300ml full fat milk

1 vanilla pod, split

1 tablespoon black pepper corns, coarsely crushed

Pinch of salt

5 egg yolks

100g caster sugar



450g fresh rhubarb stems, trimmed and cut into 5cm/2in pieces

60g caster sugar

50ml water



Put the cream and the milk into a pan.  Scrape the vanilla seeds from the pod and put both the seeds and the pod into the cream pan along with the crushed peppercorns and the pinch of salt.  Over a moderate heat bring the cream to scalding point and then remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for an hour to allow the flavours to infuse.

Put the rhubarb pieces, 60g of sugar and the 50ml of water into a pan with a lid. Over a medium heat bring the rhubarb to the boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes until it is soft and  breaking down. Remove the lid from the pan and cook for a further 5 minutes until the rhubarb is pulped. Take  the pan of the heat and set aside. When it is slightly cooled pour the rhubarb into a large mixing bowl and liquidize or blitz to a puree with a hand blender or in a liquidizer.

Separate the eggs and put the yolks into a large heatproof bowl. Add in the  100g of sugar and cream together until the yolks are pale.

Bring the peppercorn  infusing milk back to scalding point and then strain it over the yolks.  Mix well as you pour. Discard the vanilla pod and the peppercorns at this stage.

Return the strained custard to the pan and over a low heat stir until it thickens enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon.   Remove from the heat and mix in with the pureed rhubarb. Add a tiny bit of pink food colouring or cochineal to the rhubarb custard until it is rhubarby pink.  Cover the bowl with cling film and cool before storing in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

To make the ice cream pour into the bowl of an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Scrape into freezer container and freeze for a couple of hours prior to serving. It will keep for 6 weeks in the deep freeze before spoiling.

Hand method for ice cream:

Alternatively pour  the custard into a large and sturdy freezer container and freeze for 2 hours after which time the ice cream will have begun to freeze around the edges and base of the container.

You need to act fairly quickly at this stage or you will warm the ice cream to much and ice crystals will form, spoiling the texture of the end product.

Remove the container from the deepfreeze and  beat the ice cream with an electric whisk for a few seconds until the mixture forms a slush. Cover and return the ice cream to the deepfreeze for a further hour and a half and then repeat this process at least twice more. After the final beating process leave the ice cream to firm up for 2 hours before serving.

This ice cream is a delicious accompaniment to any rhubarb tart. Try Stirring Stuff Rhubarb and orange scented frangipani puff tart – easy to make.

Rhubarb and Orange Scented Frangipani Tart

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