Monday, July 01, 2013

Cherries and Berries

Pie cherries from Beechwood Orchards at Headhouse Square Farmers Market

Sweet red and golden cherries from Three
Springs, also at Headhouse Square market

 From The Belly of Paris, by Émile Zola:
The cherries, ranged one by one, resembled the short lips of smiling Chinese girls; the Montmorencies suggested the dumpy mouths of buxom women; the English ones were longer and graver-looking; the common black ones seemed as though they had been bruised and crushed by kisses; while the white- hearts, with their patches of rose and white, appeared to smile with mingled merriment and vexation.
Okay, so I'm sucker for cherries, sweet or tart. I've gone through a couple of quarts of dark red sweets in the last week and a half nibbling them straight. And a couple of quarts of pie cherries, mostly in sorbet, but also a cobbler. I'll probably make a pie this week.

In the meantime, I've gone through many half pints of black raspberries making one of my favorite ice creams. Here's how it's done:

Take two half-pints of black raspberries (about 3 to 4 cups) and place them in a bowl with half a cup of granulated white sugar. Toss and crush, then let them sit for two hours of so.

After two hours, place berries and rendered juice in fine mesh strainer over a bowl, and press with a stiff spatula or other device of your choosing to render out the rest of the juice, leaving behind (and discarding) the seeds and the pulp that clings to it and just won't go through the mesh. Transfer juice to small pot and reduce slightly.

Meanwhile, heat a cup of cream (pasteurized, but not ultra-pasteurized: you can find it Lancaster County Dairy at the Reading Terminal or Whole Foods; Trader Joe's might have it, also) gently with a cup of sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. If you have it, stir in a couple tablespoons of plain -- not high fructose -- corn syrup. (I use Karo Light, as opposed to Karo Lite, which I do not recommend.) Combine the cream/sugar mix and raspberry juice, stirring in a tablespoon of vodka. If you have it, use a raspberry eau die vie (Framboise) instead. The addition of the corn syrup helps prevent the finished ice cream from forming large ice crystals. The alcohol lowers the freezing point of the mix, helping keep it scoopable.

Let the mix sit overnight in the refrigerator. Then prepare in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. When done, pack into containers, lightly press plastic wrap into the ice cream (it will be pretty soft), cover and let ripen in the freezer for four hours before serving.

For a real treat, mix in a half- to three-quarters cup of mini chocolate chips or the smallest chunks you can find during the last few minutes in the ice cream machine.

At Headhouse and other farmers markets, black raspberries have been selling for about $4.50 a half-pint. Cherries, sweet or sour, are anywhere from $7 to $9 a quart. Blueberries, which have also started to appear, sell for $3 a half-pint or $5 a pint, making them a berry bargain: they'll be my next ice cream or sorbet, and they make the best cobbler. Prices are about the same at Kauffman's Lancaster County Produce at the Reading Terminal Market though, as usual, L. Halteman Family undersells just about everyone: black raspberries were $3.99 a half-pint there last week, cherries $6.49/quart. I used their black raspberries for my first batch of ice cream, and they were superb.

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