Mandarin and lemon ice cream at mid-winter

It came as a bit of a shock looking back to see than my last posting was ‘S’long to South Africa’.  Life has changed quite a bit since then as I have taken a job as Environment Officer for the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. It is a great job for many reasons but mainly because I get to go to South Georgia and as any one who reads the blog regularly knows I am an Antarctic junkie.  My first trip down to the island was to go and monitor the success of phase 1 of a rat eradication project before phase 2 kicks off this summer and to make some plans to eradicate the very cute, but very invasive reindeer that also inhabit parts of the island.

I was lucky enough that my field work coincided with one of the most-important celebrations of the year – mid-winter. Although South G is not all that far south (54 deg) mid-winter is a special time for all those on Antarctic bases and the festive spirit is almost palpable. At King Edward Point (KEP) – the British Antarctic Survey base on the South Georgia main land – mid-winter is marked by a whole week of activities including a pub crawl (first make your own pub) and a mid-winter swim (brrrr). There is also gift giving and in true Antarctic style people ferret them selves away for weeks sawing, shaping, sanding and varnishing until some truly amazing pieces of art emerge.

One of the big highlights of mid-winter is the lavish meal that everyone one on base helps to make. This year we had braised guinea fowl for starter and roast reindeer for main. Inevitably my trusty crank made the journey down to the island with me so it seemed only right that my contribution to the meal was to make some ice-cream to go with desert.

The perpetual problem with trying to make ice-cream on Antarctic stations is the distinct lack of cream. In the past I have tried various cream substitutes but non seem to have worked particularly well. This time I decided that I would steer well clear of the ‘non-dairy equivalent to cream’ products in the food store and try instead with powdered milk. I know this is not really in the ‘high quality ingredients=high quality ice cream’ ethos of the triple motion crew but beggars can’t be choosers.

After a bit of experimentation I worked out that a good balance of milk solids and fat was to use 600g of full cream milk powder in 1.4l of water. This produced a liquid that on the face of it tasted and looked quite a lot like the mix of double cream and full fat milk that would go into the traditional Russell recipe.

Flavour wise I needed to make ice-cream to go with 1) lemon tart and 2) brandy snaps. For the lemon tart, my fellow eradicator Andy came up with the idea of mandarin and lemon as there was an abundance of tinned oranges and UHT lemon juice in the food store. The recipe was as follows:

  • 600g Nido full cream milk powder
  • 1.4 l water
  • 1 tin mandarins
  • 4 tbs lemon juice
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 egg

Essentially we beat together the sugar and egg, added the tinned mandarins then mushed them up to form a rough pulp. In a jug we combined the milk powder with a little cold water to make a paste and then let it down to make up the final volume and then added this to the mandarin mix. Finally, we stirred in the lemon juice (nice and slowly to stop the milk curdling) then it was ready for a crank.

To go with the brandy snaps we decided to stick to basics and make whisky and honey. This used the same recipe as above to get the milk/cream type mix but swapped out ¾ cup sugar with 1 cup of honey. To make sure the whisky flavour came through we used 3 tbs of whisky straight from the bottle and then heated another 5-6 tbs to burn off the alcohol and added this to the mix.

Overall I would say the experiment with powdered milk was successful. The mandarin and lemon was light and refreshing and, because it was probably  more of a milk ice than and ice cream, it was not too heavy after a big meal. The whisky and honey is always a winner although it did take a wee while to set making me think we overdid both the sugar and the alcohol.

I am not sure if powdered milk is something that I would ever use in preference to good quality fresh milk or cream if I was back in the UK but when out in the sticks it is definitely the way to go!

A big thanks goes out to the over-wintering team at KEP who welcomed me into their home and made it a mid-winter to remember. Extra thanks to those who’s photos were used in the posting.

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