While I count ice cream among my top 10 favorite desserts—pretty close to number one, in fact—nothing beats a fruity sorbet on a hot summer day. It is sweet, clean, light and cooling to the entire body. I have never met a sorbet I didn’t love, including some off-the-wall ones that combine herbs and ground pepper flakes with standard fruits and flavors. Pineapple, mango and cayenne anyone?

Right now, though, I’m all about berries—blueberries and raspberries, specifically. The farmers markets are brimming with them. They are so good and so versatile, but their season is so short! When you buy, don’t forget to use a little restraint and freeze some for pies this coming fall and winter (I had to remind myself of this several times.). This week, however, I’m in the mood for something frozen and super simple…so let’s make that berry sorbet!

Just to note, there is nothing special about my recipe; it’s a variation on the basic sorbet recipe that came with my ice cream maker, and recipes just like it abound on the Internet. No ice cream maker? No worries. After the post we’ll talk about options for turning this recipe into sorbet’s close cousin: granita.

Mixed Berry Sorbet with Lavender and Sage

Prep Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Serving Size: 1 cup

Mixed Berry Sorbet with Lavender and Sage

Ingredients

  • Two cups sugar (I use organic evaporated cane juice, which is similar to white sugar, but no bleaching. The color is a little tawny, but that’s fine. If you happen have vanilla sugar on hand from a reused vanilla bean pod, it works nicely here.)
  • Two cups filtered water
  • One teaspoon fresh lavender leaves, minced
  • One large sage leaf, minced
  • Two cups berries: one cup raspberries, one cup blueberries, pureed and strained (For the berries, it’s really your choice and what’s available at your market. Keep in mind how sweet or tart your choices are and adjust sugar, if you need.)
  • Two tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Combine the sugar, fresh minced herbs and water in a heavy-duty pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sugar dissolves, three to four minutes. Cool completely. The mixture may thicken slightly.
  2. Once the sugar/herb mixture has cooled to room temperature, add the pureed berries and the lemon juice. Whisk to thoroughly combine; then, chill the sorbet mixture at least four hours or overnight (I think overnight is best. Also, if you have a big enough measuring cup with spout, chill your mixture in that for easy pouring into your ice cream maker the next day.).
  3. When ready to make your sorbet, have ready your ice cream maker with its solidly frozen bowl and a well-chilled, freezer-proof covered container. (I use a Pyrex casserole dish with snap-tight lid for this—works great!)
  4. Give the berry mixture a good whisking to make sure everything is combined and then turn on the ice cream maker and pour the sorbet mixture into the frozen bowl. Freeze per manufacture's directions. You’ll want this to thicken, which will take somewhere between 20-30 minutes.
  5. Once the sorbet has frozen sufficiently and increased in volume, turn off the machine and, using a sturdy rubber spatula, scrape the mixture into the chilled freezer-proof bowl. Cover tightly and freeze until firm, at least two hours and up to eight hours.

Notes

Note that the total time, which is really all prep and no cook, takes an hour of your attention and time. Do keep in mind the time it takes to cool the sugar syrup--about an hour--the overnight chill on the sorbet mixture and the freezing time as you plan your meal. Serving suggestion: We are in love with 34-degrees Sweet Lemon Crisps—the perfect texture and perfect sweet and tangy taste to compliment the berry sorbet. Better than a cone!

If the herbs are too “out there” for you, no worries. Just leave them out. You can also use different herbs like basil or rosemary. You are not using much, so the flavor is quite subtle—so maybe give this a brave try!

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34-Degrees….So cool!

34 Degrees bag of Sweet Lemon CrispsLeave to the New Hope Blogger Box experts to send along the perfect summer cookie! I just can’t get over how great these thin little lemony wafers are with my sorbet. They truly resemble a high-end, extra-crunchy cone. And so pretty! But does the company measure up, as well as the cookie?

I think so! A small, independent company with humble beginnings, 34-Degrees, located in Colorado’s North River Arts District, keeps people and planet in their business model in serious ways.

small plate of 34 Degrees Sweet Lemon Crisps

Here’s their take on community outreach:

We believe that everyone should have access to good food and pledge to share our crisps with friends and neighbors in need. We promise to donate 1% of the crackers baked in our ovens. The more you pair, the more we share.

Beginning with our first contribution in February 2011, we will make a quarterly donation of 300,000+ crackers to the Food Bank of the Rockies’ “Children’s Totes of Hope” program. Tote bags filled with 8-9 pounds of nutritious kid-friendly food are distributed to children on Fridays to take home over the weekend. For many of these children, the totes are their main source of food on Saturday and Sunday. The crackers donated to “Children’s Totes of Hope” will benefit hungry children in Colorado and Wyoming.

We are also proud to be partnered with Project Angel Heart, an organization that delivers nutritious meals to improve quality of life, at no cost, for those coping with life-threatening illnesses.
Fighting hunger is a cause that is important to our team so partnering with Food Bank of the Rockies makes sense. They serve a need right in our own backyard and we like the idea of providing our neighborhood kids with a healthy snack option.

Their responsibility doesn’t end at the food pantry door, either. They have a plan for protecting the planet, as well: 

We contribute towards a greener future.

We are committed to wholesome food, but also to protecting our environment. We can’t help that our crisps require packaging, but we do take steps to make sure that the packaging components are earth friendly.
Our inner trays, retail boxes and shipping cartons are fully recyclable and compostable. We sincerely hope that you won’t find our boxes in a landfill!

Our cardboard suppliers offset their carbon consumption by contributing to wind energy credits. With each box produced, we help a farmer utilize wind power directly from his own land as opposed to electrical energy from the power grid.

Gotta love it! And, with 14 different varieties of crispy crackers and cookies to choose from, it’s gonna be so easy to support them! I’m stocking up. If you give them a try…and, of course, I think you should…let me know your favorite and how you enjoyed them.

Great Granita!

For those who don’t own an ice cream maker, you still have options! Granita is so similar to sorbet you will not feel deprived—same basic ingredients: water (sometimes dairy), sugar, usually fruit and flavorings. That’s it! But since there is no ice cream maker involved, the process is a bit different. Here is a basic recipe with the ingredients I used in my sorbet; just note adjustments:

Ingredients:

  • Four cups of berries
    One-quarter cup fresh lemon juice
  • One teaspoon minced lavender leaves
  • One large minced sage leaf
  • Two cups sugar
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

Process: 

  1. Puree the berries and strain. Add the lemon juice, herbs and sugar. The mixture should resemble a smoothie. If it is too thick, add a little water, tablespoon by tablespoon.
  2. Pour your mixture into a shallow rimmed baking sheet in a thin, even layer and place in the freezer. Freeze for 30-45 minutes. You want the mixture to begin to freeze, but not solidly.
  3. Take the pan out of the freezer and use a table fork to scrape up the granita, breaking apart any large chunks.
  4. Repeat this process three or four times, every half-hour to 45 minutes. Your granita will be ready to serve within about four hours. It won’t be exactly sorbet, but it will be darn good!
  5. And don’t forget to top it off with a 34-Degrees Sweet Lemon Crisp!

La Dolce Vita

Granita is a typical dessert in Italy–one of the reasons life is so sweet there, I guess. And, delizioso! So it’s no surprise I learned how to make granita from one of my favorite Italian celebrity chefs: Lydia Bastianich. I started watching Lydia’s Italy on PBS years ago. My favorite segments feature Chef Bastianich’s grandmother. Chef Bastianich’s approach to her heritage, her pride in her immigrant past, her love of her homeland and its traditional dishes inspire me today as much as it did when I began watching—notepad in hand—when I was so much younger and so eager to learn. Her granitas are incredible but accessible. If I can make them, so can you! Try out her Coffee Granita for something really special or go a little more standard with her Peach Granita (made with prosecco!).

Stay cool and brave in that kitchen! Have your own sorbet or granita favorite? Share! And let us know your favorite flavor of 34-Degrees crackers and cookies! Bet there will be more than one winner.

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