Monday, February 8, 2010

Making the most of summer's bounty

Well it's that time of year when my love affair with asparagus has given way to summer fruit. Really nothing says summer to me more than an abundance of apricots, peaches, nectarines, raspberries and strawberries, and this year (perhaps because the summer weather has actually been pretty crappy!) the fruit seems to be especially good. Interesting parallel - worst summer I can remember for about 15 years, best summer fruit I can remember for about as long.

So, needless to say, I have of course been indulging in plenty of unadulterated fresh fruit - big bowls of it every morning, but I've also been cooking with them and trying to set some aside to enjoy a bit of summer in the middle of winter.

I've made lots of sorbet ...

... raspberry, white fleshed nectarine, and apricot. My apricot sorbet is made using this recipe from Stone Soup. For my nectarine sorbet I used David Lebovitz's recipe - David is after all close to Godliness, in my opinion, in matters of frozen desserts! That's my nectarine sorbet in the top right corner of the picture above, which as you can see is quite a lot paler than that in the picture on the recipe link. I suspect that is because the nectarines I had were white fleshed ones, and that yellow fleshed ones would deliver a deeper pink sorbet, though I still think my pale pink version is very pretty. My raspberry sorbet is made using the following recipe adapted from the "River Cafe Italian Kitchen" cookbook. This has really intense flavour, and the colour is just drop-dead gorgeous.

Raspberry Sorbet Recipe
Makes about 1.5 litres
vegan, gluten free

800g fresh raspberries
1 whole Meyer lemon, preferrably organic, plus
juice of 1/2 lemon
350g caster sugar

Wash the lemon thoroughly, and if you are not using an organic lemon give it a good scrub to remove any wax that might be on the skin. Then cut the lemon (skin and all) into smallish pieces, discarding any pips, and put into a food processor. Put the caster sugar into the processor with the lemon, and blitz until you have a thick puree with little bits of lemon peel still visible. Add the raspberries and blitz again until everything is combined. Add the lemon juice, and taste. At this point you may add a little more sugar if the raspberries are too tart, or you may want to add a little more lemon juice - the lemon flavour should be noticeable but not overpowering.

Chill the puree for several hours (I like to leave it in the fridge overnight). Then pour the puree into an ice-cream maker and churn according to your machine's directions.

First note: You may want to strain the puree before churning to remove the pips. Personally I don't - I think it is inherent in the nature of raspberries to have pips, and I like the slightly more rustic nature and texture of an unstrained sorbet.

Second note: If you don't have an ice-cream maker - go and get one today before summer is over. I promise you won't regret it. Contrary to what you may think, this does not have to cost you a lot of money. Whilst it is true that I covet a "serious ice-cream machine", with a built-in refrigeration unit, that might set me back $1,000-$2,000, Mr Snowy here does the job just fine and he only cost about $40. I think normal retail for this is about $80, but I picked this up in one of those 50% off electrical goods sales that Briscoes have just about every second weekend. Or there are literally dozens of similar machines available on TradeMe at almost any time.

Of course the sorbet you make now is not going to keep all winter - after a while it starts to go all icy and the texture changes. But I'm very excited to have come across this recipe for Roasted Apricot Sorbet on Couldn't Be Parve. I haven't actually made this recipe yet (though I did pass the link on to a friend who has made it and declared it to be "absolutely divine"), but I have roasted several batches of apricots (6kg in all) and put them in the freezer to make into sorbet during the winter. Let me tell you that when I had a wee taste of the first batch I almost went weak at the knees - they taste soooooo good!! I know that these are going to make the most heavenly sorbet, but they would be divine as they are on good vanilla ice-cream, or dolloped on top of crumpets instead of jam, or used to fill a tart ... or just eat them straight out of the pan when no-one's watching.

I have plans to also roast some nectarines and some peaches this week, as I see no reason why I shouldn't be able to treat them exactly the same way. Will keep you posted on progress.

I made this jam, exactly according to the recipe and I will definitely make this again. There is absolutely nothing that I would change about this - it is probably the best apricot jam I think I've tasted for years. It is not too sweet and the set is just perfect - I think it's the lemon juice that helps on both these fronts. I ended up with about a dozen jars, and don't you just love my special labels I produced ....

I'm so excited I have been labelling everything in my pantry!! These are relatively inexpensive, and available in any quantity - even very small quantities (just half a dozen, or even just 1 or 2) if you want them. If you're interested in some labels of your own for your pantry ingredients or preserves send me your query via the "Contact Me" box on the sidebar of this blog. I know that's a little bit Martha, but then for someone who is obsessive about folding (my folding of fitted sheets is legendary), this should come as no surprise.

I hope this has inspired you to do something with all that beautiful summer fruit that's out there right now. Please leave me a comment and let me know what you've been doing with summer's bounty.


  1. Gorgeous sorbets and I love the labels--so fancy! ;-)

  2. Deb, the labels are great aren't they. My partner is able to print them for me so I have them on everything!


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