Indian ice cream—a gift from the land
At the August vision fast at Monkey Valley, the spot where our council circle met had some translucent reddish-orange berries that looked very succulent. I licked one and found it to be very bitter. The faster asked what they were, but I didn’t know, and didn’t even recall seeing this type of berry before. After the faster went out on her two-day quest, I looked up the berries in Roberta Parish, Ray Coupe, and Dennis Lloyd’s Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia. I discovered they are soapberries. I remembered that my friend Pam told me soapberries are the stuff Indian ice cream is made of.
While the faster was out, my co-guide Kim Ashley (a different Kim than my sister, Kim Rempel) and I decided to try making the ice cream. We gathered the berries in the traditional method, by spreading a cloth on the ground and then beating the bush with a stick! (Following the instructions in Nancy Turner’s Food Plants of Interior First Peoples.) But we used electric beaters, not so traditional, to whip the berries with a little water into a beautiful pink foam. We didn’t have the traditional whipping implement—a piece of cedar bark—on hand. The mixture was still quite bitter even with brown sugar and a few wild raspberries added. An unusual but interesting taste. The whipped foamy texture is wonderful—a real treat.
This treat was part of the welcome-back-break-fast feast. It was really neat, to offer the faster some food gathered from the land. It strengthened the feeling that the spirits of this place welcome us doing the old sacred ceremonies here. Ho!
Mix 1 cup berries with 1/4 cup water and 4 tablespoons brown sugar, until all the berries have dissolved into a stiff pink foam.