Blaeberry Sorbet

There was once a dream of the perfect blueberry sorbet. Deliciously intense flavour, luxuriously smooth texture. Purity in frozen decadence.

Strange that this website began with the story of a failed recipe attempt. But Triple Motion is not simply about successes – these are ice cream adventures, experiments with ingredients and flavours, the never-ending quest for frozen indulgence.

So as was promised back in March, we have come back to achieve a blueberry sorbet worthy of the White Mountain itself. In late Summer, the Scottish highlands are swarming with sweet and tasty blaeberries. While resembling a small version of the American blueberry, the European variety (known as bilberries in England and myrtilles in France) are sweeter with a more intense flavour and dark flesh. Naturally, they should make a better sorbet. But the season is short and they’re generally only found in the wild.

After missing last year’s season, we have been anxiously waiting for a blaeberry report, ready to drop everything at a moment’s notice to rush to the hills and start picking and cranking. Finally, Nick mentioned that his housemates had been picking blaeberries near their farmhouse in Fala, about 30 miles south of Edinburgh. I eagerly phoned Big D and insisted he cut his weekend plans short and hightail it to Scotland.

We grabbed the bus on a wet Sunday afternoon and headed to Nick’s place. From there, we went as a group of 5 to a hill nearby where blaeberries were known to frequent. There among the heather patches, the blaeberry bushes stood low to the ground, hiding their precious payload from the rain. We all crouched down and about an hour and a half later were satisfied with our haul. We didn’t measure, but I reckon we had about three pounds of berries in the end.

Back in the farmhouse, Big D and I set about to the finger-staining task of producing a pure and flavourful juice from the berries. We started by crushing them.

We then added a little sugar syrup before heating them gently with the hopes of bringing the flavours out of the skins.

Once the purée was warm, we forced it through a sieve to separate the skins.

Then we ladled the juice a scoop at a time into a muslin cloth and squeezed it through, this time discarding the seeds.

The colour was amazing, everything in the vicinity was turning a dark reddish purple.

In the end we had a little over a litre of slightly sweetened blaeberry juice. We started adding more sugar syrup until the mixture reached 1.6 litres. I had made the sugar syrup extra dense (5 parts sugar to 4 parts water instead of 1 to 1) because I wanted to reduce the amount of water in the mix and allow for more flavour from the fruit. Still, at 1.6 litres we were still around 13º Baumé (the general target for a sorbet is about 17º). We dissolved in a few more tablespoons of sugar and managed to bring the Baumé up to between 14º and 15º. The mix tasted good and we didn’t want to keep bringing up the total volume since that would mean a lower concentration of blaeberry, so we decided to just go with the low Baumé and see how it turned out.

The sorbet froze quicker than normal sorbets, which wasn’t a big surprise with the lower Baumé. We were anxious so served it right up.

The sorbet went down a treat. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the intense flavour, and the texture was smooth and clean in spite of the low Baumé. We were thrilled, and before long the entire room was filled with blue-teethed sorbet lovers.

Mary-Ann brought an amazing lemon drizzle cake, which was the perfect accompaniment.

Peter Gerard

Peter carried the hand-cranking ice cream tradition from his family in Missouri to Scotland and eventually to New York. He is now likely the biggest importer of White Mountain Freezers to Europe, having imported more than a dozen machines...

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3 Responses

  1. Dr Big D says:

    The curious thing about this sorbet was the contrast between the colour and the flavour. From the colour you might expect it to taste like a super concentrate of the blueberry flavour you get in muffins or like wild blueberry jam. In the event though the flavour was quite subtle and refreshing, you would know it was billberry with your eyes closed but it had a acid zing (even though we put no lemon in it).
    The other surprising thing was the texture, even though we thoroughly strained the juice to remove all the seeds and skins, used no egg yolk, and it was only 15 baume it was surprisingly dense and rich. Incredible.
    Normally the inside of my icecream can develops a spot of rust between uses but this sorbet was so packet full of anti-oxidants it has remained pristine ever since.

  2. Will says:

    Hey Peter, I’m looking to get my hands on a White Mountain Ice Cream Freezer before Christmas. I’ve heard various accounts of the quality of ice cream made by those things, and now I need one. Need.



  1. 29 August 2009

    […] ventured out to the shops. PETER: These locally-grown blueberries are great. These aren’t the native blaeberries, but they’re still tasty and I have been adding them to my daily-pancakes more days than not […]

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