Thursday, May 28, 2015

READER REVIEW: McConnell's Boysenberry Rosé Milk Jam & McConnell's Strawberry Rhubarb Milk Jam

Fruit jam = good, Pearl Jam = great.. How many of you know what milk jam is? Traditional milk jam involves simmering milk, cream and sugar together until the mixture thickens to a “jam”. If you take it to its end-point, it becomes Dulce de Leche, that glorious, caramelized, silky-sweet thing we all love. If you simmer the mixture and stop the process a bit short, you get a thickened, sweetened, gorgeously-textured base, which is what McConnell's did. Fold in two different kinds of preserves and you are left with the seasonal milk jam and preserves McConnell's flavors you see pictured.

McC's takes Central California Coast grass-fed milk, cream and cane sugar, and slowly-simmer it into a thick, rich and decadent milk jam - (in the case of the boysenberry & rosé flavor) churning it with house-made, boysenberry & rosé wine preserves. The strawberry variety features fresh, tartly-sweet, house-made strawberry rhubarb preserves, folded into the decadent milk jam base. These seasonal pints are perfect for the ice cream enthusiast looking for a twist on the classic high butterfat (18.5%), low overrun (<10%) McC's base - simmered to a thickened, jammy perfection. McC's ultimate ode to Spring.

The flavor of the Boysenberry & Rosé pint in particular is an objectively better take on berries and cream than the Brambleberry Crisp pint by Jeni's. Listeria concerns aside, this pint is comprised of a denser, lower overrun base free, is free of stabilizers or "thickeners" (tapioca starch and syrup found in Jeni's), and more balanced with regard to flavor and texture.

Allowing these pints to temper and soften is critical to allowing the flavors to bloom. If you grab a pint out of the freezer and take a bite, you are going to taste the acidity and the texture will obviously be subpar because it's still frozen solid. These deserve patience, and that patience is well rewarded. How many readers have visited an artisan cheesemaker somewhere like Vermont, California or Wisconsin? They will never let you taste the cheese right out of the refrigerator. Cold temperatures mute flavor and aroma, and compromise texture. This is true of dairy products across the board; ice cream in particular.

Staying with the objective bend here: While we all have different predilections when it comes to flavor preferences (I may like vanilla, where someone else prefers chocolate), there are some definitive, ascertainable objective traits that I'll end with. Where do most companies get their ice cream base? They purchase it from a dairy. Good enough for some, but not McC's. They are a dairy. They make their base from scratch, from raw milk and cream that is pasteurized and homogenized in house, controlling the process and the inputs from start to finish. So when people talk about a brand being the "best", while there is an element of subjectivity; there are plenty of objective elements. Factors like recipe formulation, cooking process, ingredients, from-scratch base, use of stabilizers/thickeners, churning process provides an objective basis upon which to measure greatness. Stack up brands side by side using these metrics and see who is really different out there in the world of ice cream. The best part is tasting the difference!

Where Elliot Found It:
Elliot's Grade: A

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