I love people who garden, people whose backyards are fairy lands of fruit trees and flowers. I admire those who just have a way with plants – to me, this is a very special skill. It certainly is not an area where I excel. Actually, my gardening skills are deplorable. Over a month ago, I planted 6 herbs in pots that sit on our deck. Those poor little things have not even grown an inch … it’s like they aren’t really doing anything except languishing and I can’t help feeling guilty that another plant mom would have given them a much more lush life!

A couple years ago, I was gifted a red currant bush for my birthday. With the exception of how it looks (overgrown, unpruned), it’s surprisingly doing very well and has supplied me with a bounty of tart berries over the last few months. The experience of going outside, picking berries, and enjoying them is such a revelation, it makes me want to become a better gardener!

Where I live, in the Niagara region, there are lots of people for whom skillful gardening seems to run in their blood. Those with European heritage, who often are in the plant industry or for whom it is very natural to grow their own food. My friend’s Italian grandparents have several fruit trees in their garden, and I felt so lucky to receive a bag of these little sour plums the other day – so ripe and juicy, yellow tinged with pink. They make your mouth pucker with their tart flavour. I ate a few as they were (juices running down my chin and all) and decided to roast the rest. I folded these sour roasted plums into a creamy sweet vegan vanilla ice cream, and sprinkled toasted oats throughout into what has become such an interesting treat. Even my sister who is declaredly not a fan of cooked fruit enjoyed it (which is more than enough of a compliment for me).

I love it, and am so happy to share this (slightly strange) late summer treat with you. So search out those little sour plums, grab some coconut milk and gluten free oats, and make this. Your mouth will pucker with the sour fruit, be soothed by the sweet creamy base, and enjoy the textural bits of toasty oats.

Roasted Sour Plum & Toasted Oat Ice Cream (gluten free, vegan, nut-free, sugar-free)

This is the ice cream maker that I use – it’s very effective, and inexpensive.

  • 2 heaping cups (approximately 350 g) small yellow plums, halved or quartered
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar (or, use your favourite granulated sugar)
  • 1 pinch of ground ginger
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (I used Thai Kitchens brand)
  • 1/2 c raw cashews, soaked for a minimum of 4 hours (less if you have a high speed blender)
  • 1 tbsp golden rum (or, use another spirit – I was thinking Amaretto would work nicely)
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c rolled gluten free oats
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp maca (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • extra maple syrup, to sweeten the sour plum syrup

Before you begin, you need to allow the bucket of your ice cream maker to freeze for a considerable amount of time – minimum overnight. I keep mine in the freezer at all times, so it’s always ready for me whenever the desire to make ice cream comes.

Line a bread tin with parchment paper, or set aside a glass container with a lid.

In a pan over medium heat, add the coconut oil and maple syrup to the pan and allow to melt briefly. Add the oats, as well as the salt, maca (if using), ground ginger and ground cardamom and stir until well combined. Continue to cook until the oats are toasted and your kitchen fills with such a delicious aroma, about 5-7 minutes (double this recipe to have extra, for a quick granola-like topping). Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the plums with 1 tbsp coconut sugar and a pinch of ground ginger on the prepared pan. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, keeping an eye on it so that it doesn’t burn. Remove from oven and carefully spoon out and reserve the syrupy liquid that is surrounding the plums. Set aside the syrup, and allow it and the plums to cool.

For the ice cream, blend together the coconut milk, drained and rinsed cashews, rum, 1/4 c of maple syrup, and vanilla extract until very smooth. Pour the ice cream mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions – it took my machine about 20 minutes to freeze this into a soft-serve consistency.

Add 1 tbsp of maple syrup to the reserved syrup from the roasted plums and taste; if it’s sweet (but still somewhat tart) enough for you, set aside. If not, adjust with extra maple syrup.

Take your prepared pan. Spoon about a third of the ice cream and spread across the bottom of the pan. Drizzle the plum syrup across the ice cream. Add dollops of cooled roasted plums, and sprinkle cooled toasted oats across the layer. Continue in this pattern, adding another third of the ice cream, followed by syrup, roasted plums, and oats until all the components are used up.

Place the ice cream in the freezer to firm for at least two hours before serving. When ready to enjoy, allow the ice cream to sit on the counter for about 5 minutes so that it’s easier to scoop. Enjoy!

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