Foraged Berry Sorbet
Berries… The wild berries have arrived! Himalayan blackberries, huckleberries, Oregon grapes and the ever lovely salal berries – all ripe for the pickin’! What more appropriate way to celebrate the season than with a Foraged Berry Sorbet? I took this berry sorbet a step further and infused the cooling fruit/sugar base with lemon verbena, adding a bright citrus and herbaceous note. Before we get to the foraged berry sorbet instructions, let me give you the low down on foraging for a few of my favorite wild berries.
Himalayan Blackberries (Rubus discolor)
The wildly invasive Himalayan blackberry is the bane of every gardener, landscaper, and farmer in the Pacific Northwest. That said, it is the delight of a great many berry lovers and armchair foragers. Intensely flavorful, if not a bit seedy, Himalayan blackberries make the most amazing syrups, pies, buckles and cobblers. Due to their unparalleled abundance, these blackberries serve as the sturdy backbone of this foraged berry sorbet. Himalayan blackberries are easily found, practically anywhere. It is a frequent “visitor” to areas of disturbed soil throughout the Pacific Northwest.
Salal Berries (Gautheria shallon)
Gorgeous mountain salal is a delightful, dark berry with a figgy texture and overtones. When I finally made my way into the coastal mountains (a bit late in the season), I observed a lot of dried and raisin-y fruit, sadly. I would love to devote a sorbet entirely to salal, but alas, I was pleased to collect a couple cups worth. Salal is usually found on the sunnier edges of coniferous forests and in coastal areas. It has bright shiny green leaves and the dark berries hang from pinkish stems. Check out my friend Colleen’s post on foraging salal here.
Huckleberries (Vaccinium parvifolium)
Bright explosions of fruity goodness reminiscent of raspberry and pomegranate – these little babies are! My husband fondly recalls whole pies dedicated to this DELICIOUS berry. We stumbled upon a small stand of itty bitty berries and collected a small handful to add to our foraged berry sorbet. Red huckleberries can be found in similar places to salal – conifer forests and coastal areas
Bitter and tart on their own, I added a healthy palmful of Oregon grape to offset the sweetness of the other berries in the sorbet. A popular municipal planting, wild Oregon grape can be found at the edges of forests and in open wooded areas at moderate elevations.
Foraged Berry Sorbet Recipe and Instructions
Truth be told – sorbet is a bit of a challenge. Less forgiving than ice cream with its fatty goodness, achieving the right balance of sugar to fruit takes some finesse. Imbalances can lead to slushy sweet puddles or overly icy, crunchy sorbets. Using berries, there is greater room for error due to the high pectin content, and I was ultimately happy with the recipe below. Once prepared and cooled, this combination results in a moderately thick syrup fruit base. The foraged berry sorbet churned to a thick “smoothie” consistency in about 25 minutes. I first transferred the sorbet to a large tub, then placed in the freezer and allowed to freeze until solid.
The resulting foraged berry sorbet is heavenly! Sweet, but not too cloying. Smooth with little nubbly bits of fruit and seed that escaped the blender blades. I definitely could put a serious dent in this foraged berry sorbet all on my lonesome.
But, then, sharing is caring and all that stuff.
Foraged Berry Sorbet with Lemon Verbena
- 8 cups mixed foraged berries I used 5 cups blackberries, 2+cups salal, and a scant cup of huckleberries and Oregon grape
- 2 cups organic cane sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2 sprigs of lemon verbena optional
In a large saucepan, combine berries, water, sugar and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Add lemon verbena sprigs and allow to steep in cooling fruit base until room temperature.
Remove verbena sprigs and puree fruit base until smooth. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve to remove larger seed particles if desired. Transfer fruit base to a large container and chill at least overnight.
Transfer fruit base to an ice cream freezer and churn until a very thick "smoothie" consistency.
Return to large tub and place in freezer until completely frozen and firm. Alternately, pour into a couple large baking dishes and place in freezer, scraping with a fork every 30 minutes until the sorbet is completely frozen and fluffy.
Scoop, serve and enjoy.
Want more foraged berry goodness? Check out this Oregon grape curd!