Farm Life Tropical Ice cream
Updated: Jun 6
Growing up, every second long summer holiday, we would pack up and travel to my grandparents’ retirement hobby farm in far northern New South Wales. Transitioning from the cool, wet green of the tiny island of Tasmania, into the lush, steamy spaces of the north east coast of the Australian continent was like stepping into an overexposed photograph.
Most cars in 70s Australia didn’t have air conditioning. So, with open windows, the long drive from the aeroplane landing strip to our farm would be saturated by the sultry fragrance of sweetly decaying tropical flowers.
Driving at breakneck speed through the twists and turns of the hilly landscape, the journey would be a blur of lush greens, the deep red of the soil and the bleached blue of the sky – punctuated with the occasional flashes of pink hibiscus, white frangipani or the tiny yellow and pink bouquet clusters of lantana.
Finally, the spectacular mature frangipani tree always, it seemed to me, in full bloom, would appear on our left – standing sentinel at the entrance to the farm’s long driveway.
When my grandparents first moved onto the land, my grandfather planted a few passionfruit seeds along the driveway fence. Dropped onto the rich red earth, within a few years the seeds had transformed into a lush, thriving vine the length of the driveway – bearing huge passionfruit – warm and fragrant from the sun.
Behind the passionfruit fence stood the succulent trees of our mini banana plantation. Only one acre, it seemed to me to be a never-ending forest of giant, juicy stalks, hung with colossal deep purple flowers secreting rows of tiny bananas under each fleshy petal.
Finally, at the top of the driveway, at the far end of the garden, stood our one mango tree – covered in hundreds of sunset-coloured mangoes, the size of footballs.
During the dark times of winter, here in the UK, I would let my mind wander to those long, sunlit days. I made up this ice cream to take me back to that time and to remind myself of the determination of my grandparents, refugees from WWII Germany, who made a new life for themselves in Australia from nothing.
The amount of ice cream my recipe makes is a lot – it will feed six hungry people. On the farm, getting 1 kg of mangoes was a matter of going into the garden and choosing the ripest mangoes from our abundantly laden tree. If you need less, just half or quarter the recipe. You can eat this ice cream almost instantly – especially if you use frozen bananas. If you are storing it in the freezer for later eating, then remember to put it in the fridge at least 30 minutes before you plan to eat it so it “ripens” and you can serve with a spoon rather than a hammer and chisel.
Farm Life Tropical Ice cream
1kg of frozen mango
Very ripe bananas
200g passionfruit seeds and pulp
You may need to take the mangoes out of the freezer for 20 minutes before blitzing – to thaw slightly – making it easier to process. Blitz the frozen mangoes and bananas together in a food processor – adding more bananas until you reach a thick, ice-creamy consistency. Stir the passionfruit through and eat straight away or freeze for later.
I didn't take many photographs as a young child. So many of the photos I've used in this article have been taken more recently on the surrounding farms - but they are as close as I can get to the memory of the things I've described.