07 / 9 / 2013

The Four Radiant Jewels

by Rhona Kamar

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Pushing past June beetles and prickly stems, berry picking is done of love, a tedious process. One in the mouth, one for the basket. As it should be. Just like that, no washing.

It’s a crime to eat fresh berries any other way but unaffected, straight out of the garden. But should an abundance of summer berries become your windfall, a sorbet is a preparation that will render a juicy, tongue stained pardon from the judge.

Any combination of the four radiant jewels – raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or strawberries – will work here. The beauty of this method is that it leaves the berries in their raw state, conserving their glow bestowing nutrients in a fun, chilly way.

IMG_9085The presentation can be altered to please you: a classic sorbet scooped into beautiful glass dishes or frozen in any size and shape of Popsicle mold. And truth be told, the base for the sorbet could be shaken with ice and your favorite spirit and then strained into a martini glass. It’s summer. All things are possible.

Any discussion of a berry recipe brings up the issue of seeds, which inspires all kinds of reactions. Yes, the seeds are such an important part of the nutritious profile of berries. Especially the ones with hardier seeds: the blackberry and raspberry. Some feel strongly that it is wasteful and irresponsible to strain them out. But others aren’t able to get past the granulated mouth feel the seeds contribute to an otherwise smooth experience. This recipe suggests a compromise. But please skip the straining step if you feel it best.

If you are missing one or more type of berry, substitute more of another. Any single variety can stand alone in this recipe as well. And don’t get too caught up with the measurements. More or less of this or that berry is okay.

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THE RECIPE
2 cups each of strawberries (capped and quartered), blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. If you are missing any of the four, add more of the others
One quarter inch of fresh ginger, peeled
One quarter to half a cup raw, organic agave
One whole lemon, zested and then cut in half
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
One quarter inch vanilla pod scraped of seeds, optional

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The seeds are going to be strained from the blackberries and raspberries, so start by blending them together. In a blender process the blackberries and raspberries until they are a smooth puree. If your blender stalls and won’t process the fibrous berries, add one tablespoon of cold water at a time until the blades get moving.

Pass the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a mixing bowl, pushing out all of the fruit liquid and leaving the seeds behind. Discard the seeds and set the puree aside while you move on to the other berries. Give your blender a quick rinse and put in the strawberries and blueberries. At this point, add the ginger as well. Again, process until smooth. Without straining these berries, add them to the blackberry – raspberry mixture.

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Whisk in the lemon zest and lemon juice, the vanilla and seeds, if using and then on to the sweetener. Agave is recommended, but honey would be fine too.

The sweetness of a berry is unpredictable. That’s part of its charm. Something that looks so juicy can fool. So begin with the least amount of agave. Then taste. Add more sweetener to your satisfaction. With high citrus and warm vanilla, this sorbet can stand without being overly sweet. Follow your palate.

Choose your medium: a commercial ice cream maker to process the berries into a sorbet or Popsicle molds. Or, with spiced rum…..

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