Strawberry-Buttermilk Ice Cream

Herald the arrival of summer with strawberry ice cream, and as the season progresses enjoy the peach and raspberry variations. You can enjoy this chilly treat with less guilt since it has about half the calories of a commercial premium ice cream. Because it doesn't contain as much butterfat, the consistency is similar to gelato or a rich sherbet.

1 lb. strawberries, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons mild honey
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum powder, if desired*

1. Puree strawberries in food processor or blender until smooth. Strain through fine strainer into large bowl, pressing with rubber spatula to extract all of the pulp (there should be 2 cups). Whisk in all remaining ingredients until blended and smooth. Refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight until chilled. (The mixture should be about 35ºF. to 40ºF. before placing in ice cream maker.)

2. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.** Serve immediately or freeze in covered container for up to 2 hours. (Ice cream can be stored in freezer for up to 1 week but it will become very hard. To soften before serving, cut into chunks and pulse in food processor until smooth and creamy.)

8 (1/2-cup) servings

PER SERVING: 125 calories, 4.5 g total fat (3 g saturated fat), 2.5 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 15 mg cholesterol, 40 mg sodium, 1 g fiber

Variations:

Peach-Buttermilk Ice Cream: Substitute 1 lb. (3 medium) peaches for strawberries, 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar for sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice for balsamic vinegar. Add 1/8 teaspoon almond extract.

Raspberry-Buttermilk Ice Cream: Substitute 1 lb. (3 1/2 cups) raspberries for strawberries and 1 tablespoon Chambord (raspberry liqueur) or raspberry juice plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice for balsamic vinegar.

Blackberry-Buttermilk Ice Cream: Substitute 1 lb. (3 1/2 cups) blackberries for strawberries and 1 tablespoon crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) or blackcurrant juice plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice for balsamic vinegar.

TIPS *Xanthan gum is a stabilizer made by fermenting corn sugar with a type of bacteria. It's useful in ice cream mixes, especially ones that have a lower butterfat content, because it helps inhibit the formation of ice crystals. Since it's commonly used in gluten-free baking, it's relatively easy to find. Look for it in the gluten-free section of supermarkets, the bulk section of natural foods stores or order it from sources such as bobsredmill.com or barryfarm.com.

**Fewer ice crystals develop when ice cream is frozen quickly. If using an ice cream maker, such as a Donvier or Cuisinart, make sure that your ice cream maker canister has been frozen according to manufacturers' directions. Generally, it should be frozen for at least 12 hours in a freezer that is 0º F. or colder. Do not fill the ice cream maker canister more than ¾ full. Our recipes are suitable for a 1-quart or larger ice cream maker. If you have a smaller ice cream maker, process the ice cream in 2 batches (you will need to refreeze the canister). If you have just a little ice cream mix left over, freeze it in popsicle molds.