Thank You Molly! Cloudberry Sorbet Recipe

Thanks Molly! Here’s the recipe for cloudberry sorbet. It’s one of our favorites! We sure do miss picking cloudberries. (But, we think we found a “secret patch” for next year!)

Years ago, we were introduced to cloudberries in Point Hope. I was immediately smitten. Looking back over our blog recipes, I could see how my imagination was fired up with these fragile salmon-colored beauties. I turned out cloudberry jams, syrups, cakes, cookies, scones and our very favorite – cloudberry sorbet.

In the late summer, we would pick these jewels out on the Arctic tundra. They grew in soggy marsh atop small, rounded knolls. North of the Arctic Circle, berry picking was always wet and cold and sometimes mosquito-infested. Looking across the tundra, I would first see the dark plants hugging the ground on bumps of land. As soon as my eyes adjusted, bright orange berries seem to magically appear. In spite of the cold or the thrum of mosquitoes, I loved berry season and the stillness and quiet of the open tundra toward summer’s end. And I loved dreaming up ways to use these berries. My berry picking method? One, two and three for the bucket and one to sample for inspiration. Repeat until container is filled.

Our first cloudberry-picking session was the inspiration for this recipe. We had gone out on a frost-chilled morning. As we were sampling the cloudberries, Jack remarked that the berries tasted just like sorbet. I agreed and was determined to make that morning’s catch into just that, sorbet.

We had heard rumors that cloudberries grow somewhere around our new home by the shores of Lake Iliamna. As we’re getting to know our surroundings here, we’ve been on the lookout for these little treasures. The good news is that we’ve come across quite a few plants. The bad news is that we missed them this year. But maybe we found a place… It’s something to look forward to next year!

Cloudberry Sorbet

Ingredients

  • cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 cups fresh cleaned cloudberries

Directions

  1. Mix water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook mixture until the sugar is fully dissolved to make a simple syrup.
  2. Remove pan from heat.
  3. Add cloudberries to the simple syrup.
  4. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until smooth.
  5. Strain half of the mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove the seeds.
  6. Discard seeds.
  7. Repeat with the second half of berry mixture.
  8. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours, or overnight.
  9. Using an ice cream maker, pour chilled mixture into frozen freezer bowl. Turn machine on and let it do its magic. It will take about 20 minutes to thicken. Sorbet will be soft and creamy.
  10. To store, transfer sorbet to an airtight container and keep in the freezer.
  11. To serve, allow sorbet to thaw for about 15 minutes before scooping and enjoying.

Cloudberry Sorbet – Sublime!

 

Growing seasons here in the Arctic are short, and the cloudberries are at the end of theirs. Yesterday was our last opportunity to go picking. After a big pancake, egg and bacon breakfast at a friend’s house, our principal offered up the school’s suburban, so six of us drove out to the end of 7-Mile Road where the berries were rumored to be larger than those we’d previously found.

The thermometer read 50, but the chilly wind tugged much of the warmth away, making us happy to be dressed in warm layers. Small songbirds seemed to be everywhere, and a few jaegers patrolled the tundra looking for easy prey. Off in the distance, a majestic snowy owl glided from perch to perch, probably hoping to catch one of the incredibly fat ground squirrels that inhabit the tundra off-guard. Some of the berry patches were completely over, and others were full of fruit past their peak. But here and there we found berries that were just right, liquid amber in color and perfectly sweet. It took Jack and me about an hour to pick 10 cups.

Like everything else that grows on the tundra, cloudberry plants reach only a few inches off the ground. They grow in clusters on low mounds that rise a foot or so above the wet ground. Picking them requires lots of squats and bends making for a good workout. Jack was doing an uncharacteristic amount of berry eating while he was picking and finally came to a conclusion: “These berries would make really good sorbet.” Although I’d never made sorbet, I knew right away that he was onto something.

Back home, I processed the berries. The first step was to wash the berries. This proved to be much easier than my experience with other berries because there are virtually no bugs up here. The next step was de-seeding the berries. After unsuccessfully trying to smash the berries through two different sized strainers, I remembered I had cheesecloth. I loaded batches of pureed berries into the cheesecloth and squeezed the delicious fruit into a bowl until all that remained in the cheesecloth were bright pink seeds.

A couple of years ago, our daughter gave us a Cuisinart ice-cream maker. An electric ice cream maker may seem like an extravagant thing to ship to a home in the Arctic, but it has added a lot of enjoyment to our lives in both making and eating ice cream.

Sorbet is easy. Syrupy sugar water and a little lemon juice go into the freezer bowls along with the seeded, pureed fruit. This mixture is slowly churned for about 30 minutes. We love berries, but I think these are my favorites. The color is a rich salmon orange. The smell is sweet and tropical, with mango, papaya and peach flavors, and there’s a natural creaminess about them. Making one-quart batches, we ended up with a gallon of sorbet. We envision serving this in cookie bowls, with a few pieces of dark chocolate, or along with with homemade vanilla ice cream as a sumptuous 50/50 dessert.