KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 – First comes the haze. Then the rains. Then the heat. And on it goes.
Trying to predict the weather these days is like playing Russian roulette whether you believe in climate change or not. It’s almost like a joke, the way we would make sure we have our umbrellas and our N95 face masks before we leave the house.
(Now we understand why Brigitte Lin’s woman in a blonde wig character in the 1994 Wong Kar-wai film Chungking Express would put on both a raincoat and sunglasses before going out, quipping, “Who knows when it will rain, or when it will be sunny?”)
Perhaps the best precaution is simply to strengthen our body’s defences, our immunity to whatever ailments the air pollution index and unending humidity may wreck upon us.
There are traditional herbal teas and soups galore, which is great when you also need a bit of warming up, but what about when it’s just too hot to cook?
Ice cream sounds divine in such a situation but alas, the calories would put inches on our waist. Or so we think.
Not all ice cream are made equal, especially if we make it ourselves. A sorbet is lighter and more refreshing, free of dairy if we choose. No eggs. Gluten free. No artificial colours or preservatives or emulsifiers.
Ingredients wise, it could just be juice. Here’s where we get particular and choose fruits that give us the biggest return on investment: berries. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries – lower in sugar than most other fruits and higher in vitamins too. Let’s call them superberries.
(My spellcheck tells me the word doesn’t exist; I must have made it up. Well, it sounds right given how they pack a nutritional punch so I’ll use it even if the dictionary disagrees with me. Merriam-Webster will come around eventually.)
Blueberries are a great source of fibre, vitamins C and K, and antioxidant anthocyanins; the latter may reduce oxidative stress, thereby lowering the risk of heart disease. For those with metabolic syndrome, raspberries may reduce inflammation.
Cranberry juice can cut down the likelihood of urinary tract and stomach infections. My favourite berry, the strawberry, can help control blood sugar levels, which may help prevent diabetes. And it tastes awesome!
Playing with different berry juices can be exciting. I started conservatively with a single-fruit sorbet made from strawberry juice and it was clean, full of honest-to-goodness strawberriness.
Then I dabbled with two different types of berries – blueberries and cranberries. More depth, more flavour, a superberry duet. How about three berries – raspberries, blueberries and strawberries? Add a dash of yoghurt, if one isn’t lactose intolerant (I’m not). Now it’s a symphony.
If you could have single origin coffee, why not a single-berry sorbet? A stellar espresso blend by a reputable roaster, balanced and pleasant? Why, we can do the same by mixing whatever berries we can get our hands on. A less focused flavour perhaps but far more benefits.
The sky’s the limit. Our tastebuds – and our health – will thank us for it.
Generally, there are three different methods of making sorbet, ranging in difficulty and availability of equipment.
The first method requires an ice cream maker, which not everyone has. Typically this involves making a purée of the berries, straining the seeds out to produce a berry juice and chilling this liquid before adding it to the ice cream maker to get churned.
The second method saves us the trouble of locating an ice cream maker. You do need a shallow tray, a food processor and the freezer though. Some patience also helps.
The berry juice is poured into the tray and frozen until nearly solid. The semi-frozen berry mash is then scraped into coarse chunks and pulsed in the food processor until smooth. Another round of freezing and pulsing and you’d have a superberry sorbet without the use of an ice cream maker.
The third, and my favourite method, is the simplest and fastest. Plus it will build some arm strength! And this is what I’ll share below.
1 large resealable kitchen-grade plastic bag (at least 1 litre volume)
1 medium resealable kitchen-grade plastic bag (at least 500ml volume)
250g ice cubes
200g regular salt
200ml berry juice, made from your berry/berries of choice
Peppermint leaves, for garnishing (optional)
Pour the ice cubes, water and salt into the large resealable kitchen-grade plastic bag. Use the cheapest plain salt here; the finer the better as it will dissolve the ice faster, which in turns freezes the juice into sorbet.
Pour the berry juice into the second, smaller bag. Reseal this bag, making sure it’s completely sealed but not vacuum tight (i.e. there is some air inside). Put this smaller bag inside the first, larger bag.
Seal the second bag and start shaking it with your hands. You might want to wear kitchen mittens if the bag feels too cold. Continue shaking for about five minutes or until the berry juice has solidified into a sorbet.
Remove the second bag from the first and scoop the sorbet out into two cups or bowls. Garnish with a peppermint leaf or two, if desired. Serve immediately.
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