Monday, May 21, 2012

Police? I'd Like to Report a Stroberry..


Strawberries are the angels of the earth, innocent and sweet with green leafy wings reaching heavenward.
                                                                                 ~ Terri Guillemets


Guess what? Summer is creeping up quick! I’ve made it clear that I have a newfound love for spring, but summer and I have a long, weathered past. While I loved it growing up, living in Florida for close to 10 years kind of burned up any affection I had towards the season.

I never realized until now how much Florida is like Westeros, where the seasons have no specific time of beginning or ending, so there is no explanation needed for a year long summer. Florida would make the Starks go from the most honorable to the most dishonest family of the Seven Kingdoms.

No sir, you’re wrong. Winter is definitely not coming.

But we’re not there yet! We still have a few more weeks till we say bye to spring and watch the days grow longer.

Matter of fact, what I have today is perfect for the transition from spring to summer. You know, those crazy hot days that pop up out of nowhere, leaving you feeling dry with nothing really hitting the spot. Well, this is going to hit that spot and give it a brain freeze in the process.

Only thing is you’re going to have to let me talk about strawberries and how awesome they are. Is that ok? Can I get into my spring zone again and get all excited about fresh flavors without any judging or name calling? C’mon, they’re strawberries! Who doesn’t appreciate strawberries??

Their sweetness, their aroma, their bright red color, it’s no wonder why they’re one of the most sensual fruits; they’re appealing in almost every sense. But as popular as they are, strawberries are misleading, lying to your face. How so? Botanically speaking, a strawberry isn’t even a berry! The nerve, right?! I hope you’re ready to pick up the science I’m about to drop…

By definition, a strawberry is not a berry, but an aggregate accessory fruit.

A berry is a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. A strawberry is produced from several ovaries, which makes it an Aggregate fruit. That part is easy, now to get deeper… You know the “seeds” on the outside of the strawberry? Those are not seeds. They’re ovaries!

You see, a fruit is the ripened ovaries (together with seeds) of one or more flowers. If you look close enough at a “seed” of a strawberry, you’ll see the actual seed inside of it, which in turn makes the “seeds” as we know them actually fruit! Those fruits are called Achene.

But if the achene’s are the fruit, what does that make the strawberry? A liar, that’s what! Oh, and an Accessory fruit, a fruit in which the flesh is not derived from the ovary, but from accessory tissue.

See, now when someone complains about strawberry seeds stuck in their teeth, you get to be the smartass person and explain to them how those are fruits not seeds and how the strawberry is a big fat liar. This is also great information to have when starting conversations at parties. Do it! The world must know!!

Once you’ve finished picking up the pieces of your mind that I’ve just blown, check it out:

Strawberry Sorbet

                  3 cups ~ Fresh or Frozen Strawberries
                1/3 cup ~ Sugar
                1/3 cup ~ Water
       2 tablespoons ~ Lemon, Lime or Orange Juice

You may want to taste your strawberries to see how sweet they are. If they’re sweet enough for you, you may want to cut back on the sugar, but if they’re more on the tart side you may want to add a bit more. This is all on your preference.

As for the process, words cannot describe how insanely easy this is to do:

  • First thing’s first, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Once sugar dissolves, set aside to cool down a bit

What you’re making here is a Simple Syrup.

A simple syrup is equal parts sugar and water, boiled until the sugar dissolves basically allowing you to add sugar in a liquid form. Pretty handy when you want to sweeten something up without the gritty texture of sugar, which is why it’s used a lot in making drinks. It’s also great for brushing on a cake to keep it moist.

  • Next, wash and half your strawberries and put them in the food processor. Process until smooth and add the simple syrup with the juice. Process again to incorporate.

At this point, if you’re fortunate enough to own a fancy shmancy ice cream machine, you can pour the puree in there and make the sorbet following whatever instructions came with your technologically advanced machinery. But if you’re like us commoners who have to buy our own ice cream…

  • Pour the puree into a shallow, freezable container; I used a glass pie dish, so whatever’s clever. Cover and freeze for 3 or 4 hours.

From here you have a tasty strawberry ice. You can scrape it off and eat it just fine. I haven’t tested it, but I’m sure this would be awesome as a popsicle. If you have popsicle molds, skip the shallow container and just pour the puree in there. Boom, instant happiness. 

But if you’re looking for a fluffier, more sorbet like product:

  • Take the ice out and let it partially thaw at room temperature. Then scoop it into the food processor again and pulse until it's not chunky in order to break up the ice that just formed. Put it back in the container and freeze it again. 

The air you incorporate into the already once frozen sorbet will stick around and keep it airy (fluffier) when it’s refrozen. 

Whether or not you want to go through the agonizing trouble of having to clean the food processor again, if you taste your sorbet and feel like it’s too sweet or not sweet enough, simply let it completely thaw at room temperature, and either add water or more simple syrup and then freeze again. Repeatedly thawing it out and refreezing won’t damage anything, so do it to your hearts content.

If you’re not keen to strawberries, substitute them for oranges, lemons, limes, watermelon, whatever. Would it work? I don’t know! But there is absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t. It’s a simple process and a simple product, so go ahead and experiment and let me know how it turns out.

And that’s that. You can now look forward to a summer filled with easy, healthy and refreshing sorbets!


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