I grew up in one of the most northern cities in North America. Up there winter bleeds into fall and spring, making the equinoxes nearly meaningless for us. I always found these shoulder months to be the most challenging to get through. In October and November it seems the rest of the northern hemisphere is thoroughly enjoying sweater season and fall colours, whereas for us the leaves are gone by mid-September, the first snow fall right behind it. As kids we always had to cover our halloween costumes up with winter coats, boots, and toques, and couldn't understand why the kids on tv didn't. It's the same story for spring. Already this week my instagram account has been blowing up with early spring photos in Europe. It's artichoke season in Italy already! In February! For northern Canadians this is not only depressing it's unfathomable. Up there there won't be anything coming up from the earth until June. There will be snow on the ground at least until April, and possibly well into May. In fact, people don't even start planting their garden until the third week of May, lest their crops be destroyed by lingering frost. My Mum always said February is the shortest month on the calendar, but the longest month for the soul.
It probably won't surprise you that for most of Canada strawberry season is limited to July and August. Thankfully frozen strawberries are available all year round, picked at their peak of ripeness, and a delicious way to get through early spring. (Yes we can also buy fresh strawberries from California any time of the year but those taste more like the ghost of strawberries than anything else).
Strawberries aren't very common in Nicaragua, where I live now, but when I can find them I always buy them because to me they taste like home. This week I made a beautiful batch of strawberry sorbet in honour of my freezing Canadian friends and I would like to share it with you. Crank up the thermostat, put on your shorts and pretend it's summer!
You've got this Canada, home stretch!
Strawberry basil sorbet
yields 2 Litres
If you aren't familiar with sorbet then you might be surprised that the recipe calls for hard alcohol. The reason for this is that alcohol has a much higher freezing temperature than water. Adding alcohol is what keeps your sorbet soft and scoopable. If you want you can replace the basil with fresh mint, or skip herbs altogether for a more classic flavor.
2 pounds strawberries, fresh or frozen, stems removed
1/3-1/2 cup sugar
1/3-3/4 cup lime juice
2 ounces vodka or white rum
1 cup basil leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well, adjust the lime and sugar levels according to your taste. I personally use the minimum amount of sugar and the maximum amount of lime. It ends up tasting like strawberry lemonade.
Walk away for an hour, allowing the berries to marinate and absorb the sugar.
Pour everything into the blender, blend well., pour through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Pour into your ice cream machine and turn it on.