Someone asked me recently, “What is your favorite food season?” For a life taster, that is truly a difficult question, like trying to answer “What is your favorite color.” For some the answers are clearcut, simple, decisive. Blue, summer. My mind just doesn’t work that way. My answer is usually is another question, “What season are we in now?”
In the kitchen, the now has a creative immediacy that is exciting, particularly if your focus on what is seasonal and fresh. Summer is now my favorite season, voluptuous with flavors bursting with heady ripeness. It matters not whether sweet corn, tomatoes or fruits. Our options are tantalizing and even simple preparations are delightful. Caprese salad anyone? What is that but fresh ripe tomatoes, basil, mozzarella and a drizzle of good olive oil. Really nothing better. As we rush to preserve, pickle and can to save our summer for later, what are you doing now to savor the moment?
Is it possible to improve on the taste of just picked ripe fruit? You know, that perfect peach or apricot, with its juices running down your arm, that silly smile on your face as you tuck the memory of that taste into your brain to compare every other future bite. With a bit of kitchen alchemy you can surely try to capture this essence, by combining flavors and freezing. Fruit sorbets of all varieties bring a refreshing summer chill to cool your hot and bothered and awaken those heat disturbed taste buds.
Sorbet. This frozen delight was not part of my growing up. We ate ice cream. We ate sherbet. We made fresh strawberry ice cream with a hand crank ice cream maker, ice packed and sprinkled with rock salt, anxiously turning until the handle could move no more — not even from my father. It wasn’t until I was older, more traveled and dining in “finer” establishments where sorbet was offered to cleanse our palates between courses. Often champagne or citrus based, this refreshing bite was mind blowing at the time. Wha… ice cream between courses? Brilliant! With the advent of modern countertop ice cream makers, anything and everything frozen is now easily possible without the mess and clearly plays to our need for instant gratification. What a wonderful creative device.
So let’s play. Combine that sweet creamy pulp of ripe apricots and a heady, wine infused berry swirl. You ready?
Here’s a little disclaimer. I am trying out alternative sweeteners to granulated sugar and used Xylitol to see how it works. You can easily substitute regular sugar as noted in this recipe. The riper the fruit the less sweetener you need so hopefully you can pick out some juicy treasures. Other recipes just use water with their fruit puree, but why not up the antioxidant ante and try using raspberry flavored green tea instead? I prepared two different fruit mixtures to freeze and then combined them. I was interested in the two differing fruit to liquid ratios and how the textures would come out after freezing. I have to say the higher fruit to liquid in the berry base was definitely creamier. For those that like contrasts, the berry flavor brings in a boldness quite nicely with the not quite as sweet, creamy apricot. Both are good on their own.
- 2 cups Apricot Puree
- 2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
- ¼ teaspoon Almond Extract
- 2 Cups Raspberry flavored Green Tea
- 2 tablespoons Xylitol (or granulated sugar)
- 1 ½ cups Mixed Berries (blueberry, raspberry, strawberries)
- ½ cup Berry Wine (or Berry Juice)
- 1 tablespoon Xylitol (or granulated suga
- Makes 4 cups
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Inactive prep time: 4-8 hours
- Purchase 1 ½-2 pounds of apricots. Cut up apricots and place in bowl of food processor, pulse to puree then press through fine sieve resulting in 2 cups.
- Add 2 cups boiling water to two green tea bags and 1 raspberry tea bag and let steep for 15 minutes. Cool and add sugar to taste or Xylitol to sweeten. Make sure sugar is thoroughly dissolved
- Add tea mixture and almond extract to apricots and stir to blend.
- Place berries, wine in small saucepan, bring to a low boil and then lower heat to simmer. Cook for 15 minutes to reduce liquids.Taste for sweetness and add sugar a little at a time until you like it, stirring to dissolve completely. Remember the flavors are concentrated. Remove from pan and run fruit mixture through fine sieve.
- Chill fruit mixtures for at least 4 hour or overnight before placing in your ice cream freezer for best results.
- Freeze or prepare ice cream maker. Freeze sorbets in two batch and review manufacturer's instructions for non-dairy ingredients until hardened (I like to think of it as a thick slushy) pour into freezer-proof container.
- Pour the chilled mixed berry liquid evenly over the apricot mixture. Cover with clear plastic wrap directly on surface freeze until hardened. (Or chill in separate containers if you want, I liked the berry swirl mixed in with the apricot myself.)
Maybe you just want to try a bite.
If making the berry sorbet you can substitute frozen mixed berries that are available in the freezer case at the grocery store year round. Xylitol is a natural alcohol and is found in many fruits and vegetables. Most commercially processed xylitol is produced from birch bark and is often found as a sugar replacement for those with diabetes. More info from MedMD http://bit.ly/133jTW2
Favorite Berry Wines
Local Bargetto Winery in Soquel, California produces a series under the Chaucer’s Label and the Olallieberry Wine will work perfectly with the mixed berries sorbet. They even produce an Apricot Wine if you so dare. If you are in the Pacific Northwest, look for Honeywood Marionberry or Loganberry produced in Salem, Oregon