Cherry sorbet – potent in all its sweet-tart iciness – evokes memories summer. I anxiously await their arrival: Will this be a good cherry year? Did the orchards suffer any late freezes? When, oh when, will they be ready for market?
They usually make their appearance in late June when of our farmers market offers little else than tender, young greens and snap peas. Those mounds of sweet cherries as black as night are a welcome delight. This season, we pitted cases of cherries at the peak of their ripeness – their sweet juice staining our fingertips a rich, dark purple for days. Now, seven gallons of locally grown sweet cherries sit in our freezer waiting to be mixed with cream and honey for clafoutis or, as in this recipe, with vanilla bean for an icy cherry sorbet.
Now that the snow has appeared and is sticking, encasing our little mountain home in ice, and the bounty of local, seasonal fruit has waned to provide only apples and pears, I’ve enjoyed digging into our freezer to retrieve those dark, sweet and tart cherries from the peak of the summer season. While I am and always will be a fan of seasonal eating – that is, enjoying foods in their nature-ordained appropriate time and place – there’s still a wonderful pleasure in celebrating well-preserved local foods of summer once the snow hits, the trees have shed their leaves and the land is quiet until the spring.
Sweet cherries, like sour cherries, are potent foods and are well suited to dishes like this cherry and vanilla bean sorbet. They, like most flavorful foods, are packed with antioxidants – boasting an oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) value of 3,365. They’re also a good source of both vitamin C and potassium. Vitamin C plays a role in proper immune function while potassium is critical to muscle, cellular and cardiovascular function.
Cherry pits or noisettes, if you choose to keep them as we do, are a rich source of amygdalin – sometimes called vitamin B17 or laetrile – which some natural health enthusiasts believe shows promise in the treatment of cancer. The use of amygdalin in cancer treatment and prevention is controversial, at best, since an enzyme present in the human digestive tract acts as a catalyst – releasing minute quantities of cyanide relative to the amount consumed. Cherry pits enjoy a traditional culinary heritage in Europe, and we still enjoy them in very, very minute quantities in our home. In this recipe, if you’re up for the task, you may mix in 8 – 10 cherry pits to replace the almond extract as they impart very similar flavor.
This cherry sorbet, is sweet, rich and potent with the deep flavor of cherries harvested and preserved at their peak ripeness. It is also, like many good foods, elegantly simple. When you’re ingredients are of good quality, you need very little to maximize their flavor and to present a pleasing and nourishing dish to your families, friends and guests.
- Add all ingredients to your food processor. Process until smooth, but not liquid.
- Serve the sorbet as is, or spoon into a container and stir it every few hours or two until it sets to your liking.