each and every year, come february, i can't help but start dreaming of summertime foods. seemingly endless supplies of just-picked local fruits and vegetables, an overflowing garden, meals eaten outside, and ice cream. lots and lots of ice cream. february and march are long months in northern michigan. so once blue skies start hinting of spring, not even perfectly beautiful snow globe days can hide my excitement for the summertime life.
so while we wait... we'll just have to enjoy this strawberry sherbet featuring last summer's incredibly sweet organic strawberries from providence farm and shetler dairy's luscious heavy cream. it always helps to have a stash of picked-at-their-peak fruits from last season in the freezer when these cravings hit! : )
this winter, i've been falling head over heals for homemade ice cream (thanks to my love for gifting me an ice cream maker!). i've always been head over heals for ice cream, of course, but the options available locally had me wanting something better. there was nothing available with simple ingredients and that perfect texture. so commenced new flavors weekly in my kitchen!
in researching ice cream and sorbet recipes in my cook's illustrated cookbook, i came across a few recipes for various sherbets, and couldn't help but wonder. the sherbet of my childhood surely satisfied me then, but it definitely wasn't a wholesome choice. so, with a basic understanding of the process, i set out to make my own version of sherbet. it has six simple ingredients and is sure to leave you wanting more. i've made two batches in the past few weeks... so i must love it!
while this will work with any strawberries, i recommend you use the most flavorful ones you can find. go to the farmer's market & get the ones that have that incredible sweet strawberry smell.
4 cups of strawberries (fresh or frozen, but defrost if frozen)
1 vanilla bean (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
1 shy cup sugar
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp vodka (this helps you achieve the perfect texture)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
first, you'll need to carefully slice the vanilla bean in half. i like to use a really sharp pairing knife to do this. then scrape the little seeds from the bean (and don't throw the bean into the compost just yet!).
place your strawberries into a blender, and start to puree. once they're starting to get smooth, add the vanilla beans (or extract), and puree on a high speed until the berries are really silky smooth.
place a fine mesh sieve over a small or medium pot, and strain the pureed strawberries to remove any seeds that didn't get pulverized. use a spatula to get as much of the puree as possible into the pot.
add the sugar and scraped vanilla beans to the pot and place it over medium heat, stirring occasionally while bringing it to a simmer. once it reaches a simmer and all the sugar is dissolved, remove the pot from heat. stir in the lemon juice and vodka, and pour into a glass container so you can chill it.
it's good to measure your strawberry puree at this point (i use a 4c glass measuring cup to chill it and measure all at once!). you should have 3 cups. if you have a little more or less, you'll want to increase or decrease the amount of cream you use to keep the ratio the same. it's hard to measure whole berries consistently, believe me, i know!
once your puree is chilled, remove the vanilla beans. then whip the heavy cream until peaks form. with your mixer running, slowly pour in your puree until the mixture is fully combined. it will be a beautiful deep pink.
churn the mixture based on your ice cream machine's instructions, and be sure to eat plenty straight out of the machine (my favorite part of making ice cream at home!).