The recent heatwave has been making most of us crave home made ices. However, if you don’t have an ice cream maker Karen’s simple yet fresh blackcurrant sorbet can easily be made without one. Discover how to make the most of the season’s summer berries too.
Britain has been basking in weeks of sunshine now, with just the odd blip of unseasonal weather here and there, and I have been buying ice cream and sorbets almost daily. But, with the soft fruits in my garden coming into season now, it seems wasteful not to use them all, and whereas I am normally to be found in the “jam factory” aka a small room with a gas ring at the back of my house, this year’s heat wave has sent me running for my ice cream machine.
The most prolific of fruits this year is without doubt my blackcurrants, they have been fruiting for the last two weeks and I reckon I still have another week’s worth of fruit to pick. My redcurrants, white currants and raspberries have also been abundant, but the stars of this summer’s soft fruit harvest are definitely the blackcurrants. Their glossy dark purple orbs can be seen from the top of the garden, with hundreds of berries peeping through the leaves. The bushes are situated near the chicken run and I often see my hens eying up the juicy booty of fruit!
Blackcurrants have a special place in my heart for more personal reasons too; my mother, a veritable forager and gardener extraordinaire, used to make bottles and bottles of blackcurrant cordial every year. She would walk down to a neglected part of an old park and pick kilos and kilos of these perky little berries. There was no need to buy any Ribena for our house, as mum made enough cordial to last the whole year, and it was delicious with a wonderful lemon tang to it. I remember drinking it hot during the winter months, with honey, to ward off colds and flu’.
But of all the recipes that I make using these tart little berries, my favourite has to be Sorbet Cassis (Blackcurrant Sorbet), an easy recipe that keeps the intense flavour of the fruit with a slug of liqueur de crème de cassis added for good measure! (Not for the children of course) The recipe I am sharing below is suitable to make without an ice cream maker too, so a very handy little recipe to have tucked up your culinary sleeve. It’s simply bursting with berries and makes a refreshing end to any summer meal. Plus, it’s also nice to have a tub of home-made ice cream or sorbet tucked away for a scoop or two whilst watching the television……or just because, and why not in this heat.
This recipe is a classic French recipe and it takes no time to make at all; a simple sugar syrup is made first, and then the fruit is cooked in it before being sieved and then churned and eaten! C’est parfait! The recipe is shared below, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do; it is also fabulous when garnished with fresh mint leaves and served with a raspberry coulis for an added fruity zing. If you cannot get hold of any blackcurrants, then raspberries make a great alternative and you can add a glass of framboise liqueur in place of the liqueur de crème de cassis.
Sorbet Cassis – Blackcurrant Sorbet Recipe
(Can be used with or without an ice cream maker)
150g caster sugar
200ml boiling water
500g fresh blackcurrants (topped and tailed)
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small glass of liqueur de crème de cassis (about 90ml) – This is optional
1. Make syrup by stirring the sugar with the boiling water until it’s dissolved, then allow it to cool for about fifteen minutes.
2. Cook the blackcurrants in the syrup for about five to seven minutes, or until the fruit is soft. Place the fruit in a food processor and process until the blackcurrants are pureed, then strain the puree into a bowl through a sieve, rubbing with the back of a spoon to remove the pips. Stir in the lemon juice and allow it to cool completely. Add the liqueur de crème de cassis if using at this stage too.
3. Freeze the sorbet in an ice-cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions until it becomes a thick slush, then scoop into a freezer container; I use an old ice cream container, and freeze until it has set fully. Or, if not using an ice cream machine, pour the sorbet into a shallow freezer container, placing it in the freezer, before taking it out three to four times to beat as it freezes – this stops ice crystals forming. Before serving, allow the sorbet to thaw and soften slightly, for about five minutes, and then scoop the sorbet into bowls.
For more sensational ice cream recipes and sorbet recipes visit Great British Chefs. Which fruit are your favourites in ice creams or sorbets? Let us know here or over on Great British Chefs Facebook page.