Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rainier Cherry Sorbet

Cherries -- glistening happy orbs of deliciousness. I love cherries, all kinds. But if I had to pick a favorite, it might be Ranier Cherries, with their skin a soft, pale yellow with a hint of pink, like they're blushing. They're the sweetest of the cherries, great for eating on their own.

Rainier Cherries

A few weeks ago at the farmer's market in Mt. Pleasant, one of the sellers had a few quarts of Rainiers. I bought one, planning on eating the entire quart on my own as soon as I got home.

When I got home, though, I decided to look around and just see if anyone had any good recipes for desserts with Rainier Cherries. The answer is no, not really. Almost all recipes are for Bing Cherries, the deep red kind. This was a problem I could fix.

It was hot out, so I decided some kind of ice cream or sorbet would be perfect. I started with David Leibovitz's recipe for Cherry Sorbet and adjusted it, lessening the sugar to make up for the sweetness of the cherries and scaling it down for the one quart of cherries. The result? Pink, light and perfectly sweet.

Adapted from David Leibovitz, The Perfect Scoop (LN: I highly recommend this book, BTW)

1 quart Rainier Cherries, stems and pits removed
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp kirsch or a few drops of almond extract

Place the cherries, water, lemon juice and sugar in a saucepan over low heat. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until the cherries are soft. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Using a stick blender, puree the cherry mixture. (LN: Alternatively, you could place it in a blender to chop up.) You can either puree all the way or puree and leave a few chunks of cherry in there, as I did.

Pour into a glass bowl and refrigerate until well chilled. Place in ice cream maker and use as directed. (If you don't have an ice cream maker, see this post about how to make ice cream without one.)

Eat immediately -- it will be soft like frozen yogurt -- or freeze for 2-3 hours until hardened some and serve.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Red Currant Jelly

For the past several weeks, they've had currants at the Farmer's Market -- little red, white and pink berries of tart goodness. I had never tried canning with them before. Generally, I stay away from berries with seeds because you have to strain them. But I recently acquired a sieve (it's amazing the amount of random kitchen gear people give you when you get married), so I figured this would be a good first test for jelly.

The difference between jam and jelly -- if you don't already know -- is that jam is made from the whole fruit, while jelly is made just from the juice. So with jam, you throw the fruit in with the sugar and boil until it's ready to jar. With jelly, you place the fruit in a saucepan with water and boil until the fruit has released all it's juice. Then you proceed like you would with jam, adding sugar and pectin to the juice.

Currant jelly is certainly delicious (it's apparently insanely popular in France) -- tart, but a little sweeter than raspberry. I definitely recommend it.

For more on canning, see here.

Adapted from the Ball Blue Book of Preserving

3 pints red currants
1/2 cup water
2 2/3 cups sugar
5 tsp pectin

Remove currants from their stems and rinse thoroughly in a colander. Place the currants and water in a saucepan. Bring to boil and gently crush the berries against the side of the pan with the back of a spoon. Simmer for 15 minutes until the berries are softened.

Allow to cool slightly, then strain the juice through cheesecloth, squeezing as much juice from the berry mass as possible. You should get about 2 cups of juice from the 3 pints.

Place the juice and the sugar back in the saucepan and bring to a boil. Once it's boiling, add the pectin and stir until mixed in. Bring to a full boil and boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and fill jars.

Waterbath process for 5 minutes. The jelly will keep unopened for up to one year. After opening, store jelly in the fridge and use within 2-3 weeks.