There’s something sublime about strawberries. Especially ones that you’re nurtured in your own garden – watching the flowers slowly unfurl , the bees as the hover about from one to the other, then the petals drop off and the large yellow centres become heavy and swollen – turning from yellow, to green, before they slowly colour to a ravishing red.
I’ve never seen alpine strawberries for sale here in Australia, so I became determined to grow my own to experience the flavour for myself. They actually turned out to be incredibly easy to grow (though they had to be grown from seed), the only problem being that the birds loved them just as much as I did and I ended up losing over half my crop over the summer to the sweet-seeking crows and magpies that frequent my garden.
I ended up resorting to picking my alpine and regular strawberries from my plants while they were still blushing into full colour and allowing them to ripen on my window sill, but unfortunately once they had ripened I wasn’t sure what I should do with them so I ended up collecting them one by one into a little zip lock bag in the freezer.
Looking at my freezer the other day, I noticed that the storage bag was so chock-full of strawberries that it could no longer be closed. Not a bad thing, since the strawberry harvest has been rather low this year and it’s been longer and longer between ripe berries during this rather spiritless summer.
Now that summer is officially over and we’ve moved on into autumn, I find myself wistful for the summer that we didn’t have. The long lazy days of sunshine where it’s too hot to do anything other than lie under a big tree with a book and Mr Woofy napping next to me. The sort of weather that makes everything drowsy – even the bees as they bumble from flower to flower seem to do so at half the speed. Turning on the gas on the cooker inside the kitchen seems to infinitely increase the temperature so more and more dinners take place outside, something cooked on the barbeque where the heat can escape into the air.
Even though there are all-year and winter varieties of strawberries, for me there’s nothing better than a summer berry which has come to full ripeness under the rays of the summer sun. When I bite into a berry like this, it always makes me feel like I could close my eyes and imagine the heat of the day when this berry was plucked, as its juices run down my chin and are wiped away with the back of my hand.
So, in order to pay homage to the summer that we did not have and to take full advantage of the flavour of my home-grown berries, I decided that I wanted to use them in a way which would deliver the taste without any sort of adulteration or composition. No, I wanted the only flavour to be pure 100% strawberry.
Taking advantage of my recent purchase of David Lebovitz’s ‘The Perfect Scoop“, I used it and all the ingredients that I had on hand to ensure that I could churn out this fabulous strawberry frozen yoghurt without a single salvaged berry going to waste!
(Note – the only reason I adapted David’s recipe is because of what I had on hand, and the fact that I wanted to use all my strawberries in one hit!)
Strawberry Frozen Yoghurt
(Adapted from “The Perfect Scoop” by David Lebovitz)
500g fresh or frozen ripe strawberries
150g caster sugar
250g full fat natural yoghurt
1 tsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp Pimms No1
1. If using frozen berries then allow to thaw but collect the juices as they run out. If using fresh berries, roughly chop the berries and toss with the Pimms and sugar and stand for about an hour or till the strawberries have become softened.
2. Puree the strawberries with the yoghurt, strawberry juice and lemon juice. If using frozen berries, also add the sugar at this stage and puree till the mixture is as smooth as possible.
3. Push the mixture through a fine sieve to remove any seeds or bits, then chill in the fridge for an hour before churning in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
The one thing that you need to keep in mind with homemade ice cream or frozen yoghurt is that it freezes much more solid that commercial products because non-commercial machines usually aren’t capable of beating as much air into the mixture as commercial ice cream makers.
The best way to overcome this is to allow the container with your home-made mixture to sit out of the freezer for a few minutes till it’s soft enough to scoop…then you can scoop it up into serving bowls, or even into some cones and allow yourself a giggle or two as you lick the melting frozen yoghurt which runs down your hands