Blackberries, Sweet & Tart

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Blackberries are producing madly. They have been loving this more temperature summer. Me too! And so they have rewarded us with beaucoup berries since mid-July. For a few weeks in fact they were producing along the Saturn flat peach. ahhh…

flat peach & blackberries Loads just got bagged and tossed in the freezer. Lots got turned into jam, some mixed with blueberries. New to me this year was blackberry gastrique, an awful name if there ever was one: just hearing it makes me want to reach for the bottle of crème de menthe. But it is a homemade competitor to flavored balsamic vinegar — a syrupy blackberry vinegar akin to shrub that I like to drizzle on hard cheese, add to sparkling water, use for vinaigrette, baste ribs or chicken on the grill. I had heard of gastrique before but dismissed it , unjustly based on its name. I came across this video from Sherri Brooks Vinton and realized it was akin to shrub. I made it and I am hooked. I have since made Peach ginger gastrique and there is a tomato one in the works.

And then I have been having fun with sherbet using honey from our hives. This version came by accident: I wanted to make sherbet with buttermilk (something similar to this blueberry sherbet) but there was none in the fridge. There was however sour cream, so that is what I used. Instead of my usual vodka (used to prevent the sherbet from becoming too icy) I splashed in some crème de cassis. Wow! I was really pleased with the depth of flavors and the mouthful – it is, in fact, one of my favorite sherbet. Don’t sweat the proportions too much: let your taste buds guide you. I was reakky measuring when I was making it.

So without more ado, 2 recipes: Blackberry Gastrique and Blackberry Honey Sherbet.

Blackberry Gastrique

Yields about 1 1/4 to 1/2 cup

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1 cup sugar

3 T water

1 cup cider vinegar

1 heaping cup blackberries

1 sprig purple basil

In a thick-bottom non-reactive fairly tall sauce pan, gently stir sugar & water together. Make a light caramel: heat on medium heat without stirring (to avoid making crystals) until caramel is light brown – about 10-12 minutes (might be more or less depending on your pan and your burner.

At once, add the vinegar. It will bubble furiously, so watch out. The caramel will eventually dissolve so keep cooking for about 10 minutes.

Add the blackberries & basil, and simmer for 10 minutes. Sieve the mixture onto a bowl  to catch all the liquid – also rub on the solids to extract a bit of puree (a chinois or sturdy fine-mesh sieve will do).

Will keep a long time in the fridge. For long term storage can using water-bath method (I make 1+ quart at once and can in small jars)


Honey Blackberry Sherbet

Yields about a generous quart

Excellent by itself or with a fresh peach cobbler.

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1 heaping quart blackberries

3/4 cup mild liquid honey (+/-)

1 cup sour cream (+/-)

2 T crème de cassis

Simmer the blackberries, covered, in a non reactive pan until they are tender 10-15 minutes. Process in a blender. Pass puree through a food-mill equipped with a small hole plate (small enough to not let the seeds though), or rub through a fine mesh sieve or a chinois to extract as much pulp as possible. Discard the seeds. You should have 2 cups puree. Adjust proportions of other ingredients slightly if you have more or less puree.

Chill thoroughly.

Process the puree with honey, sour cream and crème de cassis in the blender until very smooth. Alternatively, whisk together well until honey is dissolved. Taste: while tangy it should taste slightly oversweet. Add honey, a tablespoon at a time, to taste as necessary.

Process in ice-cream maker. Cure in freezer for a couple of hours.

Locavore log: blackberries & herbs from the garden;  honey from the bee yard;


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