A sophisticated gelato maker produces his ice cream's superior texture. But Scott Harding still vouches for dreamy frozen desserts made the old-fashioned way: with rock salt in a wooden bucket.
Hand-churned ice creams may not be as flawless as machine-manipulated ones, but they have freshness and, to some degree, wholesomeness on their side. Seasonal fruits shine when they're not competing with artificial stabilizers and sweeteners in most mass-produced ice creams, says Harding, 37.
"Strawberries are still in; the cherries are in," says Harding of ideal summertime flavors for summer's most beloved treat.
Harding uses these and many more to produce his handmade Artik Creamery ice creams to sell at local farmers markets. Popular flavors include Meyer lemon, rum-roasted banana, honey-lavender, salted butter caramel, "cinnamaple" and kaffir lime with candied ginger, among others.
"We don't have a most popular flavor," says Harding.
After indulging Rogue Valley residents' taste for fresh and unusual scoops over the past year, the photographer and former Forest Service geologist plans to share some of his artistic — and scientific — methods next week in a cooking class at Ashland Food Co-op.
"There's chemistry involved with really good ice cream," says Harding.
Harding starts his with milk and cream from the Organic Valley co-op of dairy farms. Certified-organic sugar and eggs are added in calculated quantities, along with flavoring agents, whether fruit, coffee, herbs or spices.
Tracking his ice-cream "formulas" on computer spreadsheets, Harding promises the class won't quite rise to the "nerd level." But participants will learn how to adjust ice-cream recipes for sweetness and creaminess, which takes some knowledge of how the ingredients work together.
And while the classroom equipment likely will be an "aficionado's" Italian gelato maker, Harding says he plans to poll participants about their ice-cream makers to explain usage and troubleshoot problems. Frozen, dairy-free desserts also may be a class topic, depending on demand.
For raw, vegan desserts, the Co-op plans an Aug. 18 class with instructors Vrnda Leier Heyden and Maria DiMaggio, who plan to prepare "berry cool" pops, chocolate-mint "ice cream," and "Key lime cooler" with raspberry sauce.
Harding says the most obvious flavor for his class is vanilla bean with candied, peak-season cherries. Look elsewhere, he says, for "green tea-wasabi."
Instead, try rhubarb-raspberry and chocolate-Chambord sorbets or chocolate-hazelnut swirl and sweet corn ice creams.
Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.