Paw-paw/Papaya icecream in the Cederberg, South Africa

Back in March I took a trip out to South Africa to visit my sister, and whilst there we cooked up this little adventure.  Soon after arriving we had some beautifully ripe paw-paw for breakfast and decided to see if they’d make good icecream. To add a bit more interest we decided to try making it in the Cederberg national park – a spectacular semi-desert 300 km north of Cape Town.

Here’s the recipe for a 1/2 gallon freezer:

  • Paw-paws (papayas) – peeled, de-seeded, liquidized and the liquid run through a sieve to remove any bits, to produce 2 US cups of pulp. I can’t remember how many fruits we used in the end but if you get 700g weight of fruit you should have plenty
  • 1 1/2 eggs
  • 7/8 cup of sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups of Parmalat cream (40% fat) (2 cups of double cream in UK, 48% fat)
  • top up with full fat milk

We reduced to sugar content slightly for 2 reasons: 1. the paw-paws were really ripe, 2. we anticipated difficulty in getting a really cold brine when cranking (see later) and were afraid of depressing the freezing point of the mix too much by making the mix too sweet.

The peak temperatures were up to 36 oC in Cape Town when I arrived and the Cederberg is generally even hotter. We anticipated some problems in getting enough ice through the 4-5 hour drive through the heat of midday in a non-air conditioned car, to be able to make icecream. In my experience the best way to get around this is to transport the ice in as large a block as possible and wrapping it in insulating material e.g. bubble wrap. The air cells in the bubble wrap are poor conductors of heat. A large block has a smaller surface area than lots of little icecubes and the bubble wrap also restricts air circulation around the block – both of which reduce warming by convection. So i the end we bought 2 big 10L bottles of water from the supermarket and froze them over the 48 hour before we set off.

We arrived in the Cederberg at around 4pm and found a boulder with great views to crank on top of, but on unpacking the kit we found 2 catastrophes had occurred. Firstly the mixture appeared to have separated out during transport into a thick top-layer of fruit pulp and dairy fat and a thinner underlayer of juice and milk. I suspect this was a result of the vibration and shaking during the 1 hour drive on gravel roads into the reserve – next time I’ll keep the fruit and dairy separate until I churn. Thankfully I managed to homogenize the mix without many residual lumps with some judicious stirring.

The bigger problem was meltage…  unfortunately the poor freezer at Jen’s house had been struggling to cope with the heat and hadn’t managed to completely freeze the water bottles and over the long hot drive amount of solid ice declined rapidly. I can honestly say that I’ve never been so close to failing to freeze a batch as this, but in the end the technology came good and we got our just desserts.

And the verdict…

Very interesting, the first few spoonfuls had a lovely paw-paw flavour. Unfortunately there was a really strong bitter aftertaste, which had been present when eating the raw fruit, but was amplified in the icecream. The other weird thing was the consistency, I think paw-paw has a slightly waxy flesh anyway and this was also amplified in the icecream (maybe with all the dairy fat) leaving a kind of waxy coating in my mouth. Alas on this occasion the fynbos got a healthy portion of pudding, but I think overall it was a triumph for extreme icecream making.

I might use paw-paw again as one flavour amongst others but not on its own. If I was to make a paw-paw ice again I think sorbet might be a way to go, the added sugar might counteract the bitterness and the waxiness might make the texture pleasantly rich (like a pseudo-icecream).

Dr Big D

As the ice cream doctor, Big D is the scientist among us, obsessing over the chemical properties of ingredients and the balance of sugar/fat/ice ratios. His experimental drive brings exciting and challenging new flavours to our bowls. Big D has a 2-quart and a 6-quart freezer. His 2-quart freezer is particularly unique with it's iron bar for a crank, which he built after breaking the old one in determination to make the perfect ice cream.

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5 Responses

  1. Thibault says:

    Gosh, this makes my Parisian back alley look so bleak in comparison… You’re harsh, man.
    Well done in any case! From -40°C to +40°C, your sister is really into extreme ice cream making!

  2. Ambarsch says:

    Glad to see you packed in the rusks!

  3. Ambarsch says:

    BTW, Thibault, coming from South Africa, your Parisian back alley sounds amazing! 🙂

  1. 24 July 2011

    […] out that they certainly could — at a national park in Cederberg, South Africa. The recipe is outlined in detail on their blog. You’ll need an ice cream maker for this one (or you can use the […]

  2. 24 July 2011

    […] out that they certainly could — at a national park in Cederberg, South Africa. The recipe is outlined in detail on their blog. You’ll need an ice cream maker for this one (or you can use the […]

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