Honey Rhubarb Frozen Yogurt
Since our most recent honey harvest yielded close to 15 quarts, I am experimenting with honey as a sweetener. We are so used to the taste of sugar that we don’t really taste it any more, we only taste the sweetness. Honey on the other hand has a depth of flavor that some palates find too potent. But pair it with a complementary yet assertive enough flavor, and you’ve got a winner. And in the spring we’ve got… rhubarb, beautiful, tart, versatile, perennial rhubarb!!!
I used not to care for rhubarb, having been subjected to too many over-sweet strawberry rhubarb pies with less than stellar crusts. So it took me quite a while to embrace its sourness, so welcomed after winter. In comparison with fresh tamarind, a fruit of my childhood, rhubarb’s sour bite is actually quite gentle. No wonder I don’t want its tartness to be disguised by too much sugar.
And of course, rhubarb does not have to be in a pie (and certainly not with strawberries – it’s quite good by itself). It does not even have to be in a dessert – I recently came across a Persian recipe with lamb and rhubarb which I will have to try.
A while back, my friend Jackie made some comments about wishing for an ice-cream without sugar or fat – knowing however it was quite an oxymoronic wish. Still, she’s not the only one to want less calorie laden desserts. So for a recent wellness retreat held with nutritional health coach Cheryl Mirabella of Whole Health Living I developed my Honey Rhubarb Frozen Yogurt served with Chilled Strawberry Soup. Yes, I know… I am getting a little fancy. Well, the name is fancy, the dish could not be any simpler. Really. Which of course was also one of the points of the workshop – good food absolutely does not have to be complicated.
It’s important to drain the yogurt (homemade or or purchased – and please use “real” yogurt not the stuff thickened with gelatin or seaweed). Since there is hardly any fat in this dessert and not that much sugar compared to sorbet, it’s of course more icy than sorbet or ice-cream. By draining the yogurt (or using Greek style yogurt) you are removing some of the water that’s contributing to the iciness and get a much more satisfying mouth feel. It’s surely not ice-cream, but it is very nice .
And of course, it goes without saying that you should adjust the sweetness to your taste. Do use a mild honey though, not a strongly flavored one (you know, not dark & broody blueberry honey…)
And yes, I did cheat a little bit: after all, rhubarb is barely poking up here and strawberries are just blooming – and blooming they are! I am looking forward to a strawberry orgy in my native Virginia strawberry patch in May.
So sue me, I used frozen rhubarb. Rhubarb freezes exceptionally well with hardly any preparation: wash the stem, let dry and slice. Freeze. Very complicated indeed…
Sue me again, I used frozen strawberries too… almost the last bag from last summer. Strawberries also freeze well: hull them and pop in a bag when they are at the peak of flavor. Sure they are no good to eat raw and whole then – the freezing burst the cell walls, so the texture is pretty nasty. But they are absolutely wonderful in smoothies, simple sauces (cooked or raw), to make into ice-cream and sorbet or to cook for compote. All summer long, I harvest my ‘Tristar’ strawberries and freeze them. A cup or a pint every other day adds up to a nice little stash once October rolls around.
Use perfectly ripe fresh strawberries and rhubarb when they are in season or freeze them to make that dessert any time of the year. It’s no use buying fresh out-of-season strawberries: they might be red but they aren’t ripe. Strawberries continue to change color after they are picked, but they do not get riper (i.e. sweeter).
Serves 4 – 6
- 2 cups plain whole milk yogurt or 1 heaping cup plain whole milk Greek-style yogurt
- 12 oz rhubarb, sliced ½ inch thick
- 2 or 3 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup mild honey
- If using regular yogurt: line a kitchen sieve with a butter muslin cloth or a white not-too-tightly woven cotton kitchen towel. Drop yogurt on cloth, tie the ends and suspend on a cabinet handle over the bowl to let drain 30 minutes or until you have a heaping cup of thick drained yogurt and about 1 cup of whey. (Reserve the whey for another use such as making pizza or bread or for drinking. The whey will keep several weeks in the fridge.)
- If using Greek-style yogurt, there is no need to drain as the yogurt is pretty thick. Proceed with the rest of the recipe.
- Simmer the cut-up rhubarb with water until rhubarb is very tender – about 10-15 minutes. Process in the blender until very smooth. You should have a cup puree. Add the honey & and process some more.
- Let the purée cool in the blender. When cool to the touch, add the drained yogurt (or Greek-style yogurt) and blend until smooth. Chill thoroughly, up to overnight.
- Process in your ice-cream maker following manufacturer’s instructions. Serve immediately when it is soft or freeze for serving later.
- very ripe strawberries, cleaned and hulled
- mild honey
- fresh lemon juice
Puree strawberry in blender until very smooth. To each cup purée, add 1 tablespoon honey (more or less to taste) and a few drops of lemon juice. Blend more. Taste. Adjust sweetening/tartness to taste as desired. Chill
Let the yogurt soften for 10-15 minutes in the fridge if it is very hard.
Choose pretty serving dishes. Add 1/3 to ½ cup strawberry soup to each dish (more if you’d like), top with one scoop of frozen yogurt. Add fresh strawberries to decorate if you wish