To say I have been slightly obsessed with picking berries this summer would be a slight understatement. Ever since I heard that a friend of mine would head up to a local farm to pick her own fruits and veggies last summer, I knew I MUST do that this summer. And so far, so good. We ventured up north from where we live to Dutchess County, NY to pick some luscious blueberries, and the strawberries pictured above. I had to work hard for the strawberries because it was the very end of strawberry season. But, it was SO worth the effort.
The strawberries I picked were still warm from the sun and as sweet as could be. They were about the size of my thumbnail and red all the way through–not white and woody like the ones you typically find in the local supermarket. It took me back to three years ago when we were on vacation in Norway and bought pints of freshly picked strawberries, raspberries, and cloudberries along the road. I have never in my life tasted such wonderful berries.
The blueberries we picked ranged from very large to very tiny. They were also sweet, juicy, and warm from the sun. Blueberries have become my third favorite berry of all time over the last few years–a close third to strawberries and raspberries, who are tied for first and second. My kids were in heaven.
Then one day a few weeks ago, I took my kids to see my husband at work and we discovered wild raspberries growing behind the school where he works. Imagine my delight! We’ve been back several times to glean what we could.
Last weekend, we traveled about an hour away to another great farm that offers “pick-your-own” produce. (Find out if there are any farms near you by clicking here.)
The blueberries and raspberries were all picked out. The blackberries weren’t ready yet.
But, red currants were!
The red currant bushes had not been over-picked. In fact, the bushes were brimming with the plump, red jewels. We happen to have a fondness for currants in our home. The last time we had fresh currants was when we were in Norway three years ago. Our friends had red and white currant bushes in their yard. Have I convinced you to go to Norway yet?
Although the currants were time consuming to pick, it was also well worth the effort.
I debated what to do with the currants I had picked. Jelly? Maybe. Definitely something sweet. Currants are very tart and the red ones need to have sugar added and are often cooked before they are eaten.
Awhile back my sister gave me an ice cream cookbook. I have looked at it often for inspiration, but I have never made an actual recipe from it. The recipes call for a lot of ingredients that are readily available in the UK, where it was written and published, but not so much here in the US.
There is a recipe for a Red Berry Sherbet. The key ingredient? Red currants. And I finally had some!
I didn’t make the actual recipe, but I took some tips from another book I have about cooking ingredients from around the world–it was one of those $5 books from the sale table at the local bookstore. I love it–it was also published in the UK.
Another way to make sure your sorbet has a good, scoop-able, soft consistency, is to use enough sugar. Sugar, especially after it has been made into a syrup, prevents large ice crystals from forming and thereby prevents the sorbet from freezing 100% solid. Adding a little alcohol to ice cream and sorbet furthers this as does the addition of gelatin. (These tips I have learned from trial and error over the last 5 years and from reading the great book, On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee. Great book, by the way.)
To make the garnish, I added a bit of sugar to the wild raspberries and let it sit for a few hours Then I spooned it over the top. I didn’t really even need to add the sugar, the sorbet was sweet enough on its own.
I couldn’t eat it all, but I wanted to!
- One 12 ounce package of unsweetened frozen raspberries (or fresh--I decided to save my fresh berries for a garnish)
- 2-3 cups red currants water
- 1 cup sugar
- Place the currants in my heavy-bottomed 3 quart pan and added enough water just to cover them. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes. The berries will start to pop open and release their juice. Add the frozen raspberries and sugar. Bring back to a boil. Cook for a few minutes until the raspberries start to pop.
- Over a clean bowl, strain the berries and accumulated juice through a fine mesh sieve to strain out the seeds and pulp. Be sure to really push the puree through the sieve with a silicone spatula or a wooden spoon to get every juicy bit of puree and leave on the seeds behind.
- Chill the puree until very, very cold.
- Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions. Transfer sorbet to an airtight container and place in freezer until ready to serve. Allow the sorbet to harden for a few hours, if desired.
- If you don't own an ice cream maker, you can get close results by freezing the puree in a freezer-proof bowl or metal pan and whisking the puree every 30 minutes or so, until it is completely frozen. Or allow the mixture to completely freeze and break it up into pieces with a fork and processing it in a food processor.