Friday, July 31, 2009

The Summer's First Blueberries, Perfect for Sorbet

During peak season the Orono farmers' market happens on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and produce junkie that I am, I usually make it to both. Lately there's been something new each time: first broccoli, then raspberries, now jalapeños. This week, I spotted the first blueberries of 2009. They were just picked Tuesday morning, and I couldn't leave without buying a quart.

Wild blueberries are smaller, sweeter, and better for you than the puffy cultivated berries available year-round. Maine's blueberries are almost as famous as its lobster, but berries are vegan and they don't pinch. As a great writer once noted, they're loved by small girls and baby bears.

This week was miserably warm and humid, and it's been hard to get excited about anything but smoothies and ice water. Pancakes and blueberry pie are out of the question, but cool, sweet sorbet hits the spot. I planned to make ice cream, adapting a recipe by substituting coconut milk for heavy cream. The end result was lighter and fruitier than I intended, but thanks to the coconut milk, it didn't freeze into a solid block like pure fruit and water sorbets. Lemon juice brightens the flavor, so a taste of this sorbet cools you down like dunking your head in a swimming pool.

Last night's dinner? Salad greens with walnuts, snowpeas, and FatFree Vegan's Blueberry Vinaigrette, followed by a generous helping of sorbet. I can't wait to pick up more berries tomorrow. When the weather breaks and I can turn on my oven again, you'll see plenty of wild blueberry muffins, pie, and preserves.

Wild Blueberry Sorbet
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma: Ice Cream

2 cups wild blueberries, preferably fresh but frozen will work
3/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Put the blueberries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Stirring frequently, bring to a boil over medium-high heat and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside to steep for 30 minutes.

Purée mixture in a blender or food processor. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a mixing bowl or other container (you can save the seeds and pulp for smoothies). Place in the refrigerator until completely chilled, at least 3 hours.

When chilled, stir coconut milk and lemon juice into the blueberry mixture. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions. Sorbet will be soft, but will firm up after several hours in the freezer.

Makes about 1 quart.


  1. Such beautiful berries! And that sorbet looks amazing... Although it's hard to stop myself from just eating pint after pint of blueberries when I get them, I seriously want to try making this!

  2. I've never seen that book! It looks so cute. I really love children's literature.

  3. The blueberries here are expensive so I will buy frozen one and make this. I just got an icecream machine so I want to make loads of sorbets and icecreams. The sorbet looks very rich

  4. Yes I am liking my ice cream maker kinda. I am very new to ice cream and sorbet making. I am using a fairly expensive Phillips which is one that you place a frozen disc inside the maker and plug it in and pour in your ice cream. When your ice cream and or sorbet is finished from the maker what type of consistancy is it? My ice cream was still pourable but very cold with an icy texture. I froze it overnight and I have been able to make scoops which look kinda creamy but the taste is like watery like old fashioned home made ice cream. Did I do something wrong?

  5. CV,

    When I take my ice cream out of the ice cream maker it is the consistency of soft serve. Too soft to scoop, but too thick to drink with a straw. It firms up after a few hours in the fridge. With my ice cream maker (cuisinart), the ice cream will never firm up if the cold part of the machine is not frozen all the way through, or the liquid I put into it is not thoroughly chilled. Your recipe makes a difference, too. You need some fat (coconut milk works well for me, some people use avocado) or thickening starch like arrowroot to get creamy ice cream and sorbet. You can make sorbet out of fruit, water, and sugar if you're going to eat it all straight out of the ice cream maker, but it will become a solid brick in the freezer.

    Good luck!

  6. what you said is exactly what happened to me so I am on the right path. I used arrowroot slurry and a cup of low fat coconut milk. I have some full fat coconut milk in the fridge so I will make icecream again this week and make a post with full fat coconut milk. Thanks for all your help Mary.



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