Oh summer, where have you gone? As hard as I try to hold on to the sacred hot, sunny days in Michigan, they always seem to pass in the blink of an eye. Anyone else feel the same where you live? I’m trying my darnedest to celebrate this short season along with the wonderful blueberry harvests we get in my neck of the woods. This recipe for Michigan Blueberry Fennel Sorbet is perfect for the hot summer days we have left (or to relive them in the dead of winter).
A Perfect Summertime Treat
This outstanding recipe for Michigan Blueberry Fennel Sorbet is inspired by the homemade sorbet served at a gem of a restaurant Flat River Grill, located in the charming town of Lowell, MI. The chef there cranks out amazing ice creams and sorbets made with fresh and local seasonal produce that are worth the journey alone.
When I think of summer, my mind automatically goes to blueberries and ice cream. Michigan is the 3rd top producer of blueberries in the United States cranking out over 92 million pounds, and when July/August rolls around, they are everywhere. Blueberries are my absolute fave, and I love perusing the farmer’s market stalls on the search for the sweetest juiciest berries I can find, then whipping them up into some sort of delicious treat or snacking on them throughout the day.
History of Sorbet
Sorbet is one of those desserts that has become one of America’s favorite treats. Healthy-ish, vegan, and refreshing, it’s way easier to make than people realize! Just a few ingredients, a blender, and a quick freeze, and you have yourself a delicious treat to help beat the heat.
Sorbet is the predecessor to gelato and ice cream and can be traced back as far as the 1st century BC in the Persian empire. At that time it was a sweetened fruit drink called charbet made of fresh snow flavored with honey, fruit juice and water. The name is derived from the Turkish word serbet or “sorbet” which stems from the Arabic word sharbāt meaning “drink(s)” or “juice.”
It’s believed that Marco Polo brought this treat with him back to Italy, where it was then perfected. By the early 1600’s, this concoction of crushed ice and fruit was sold in every public square in Italy, and spread quickly throughout the country and Europe. When Europeans made their way to America, so did sorbet, and by the 19th century, it took center stage as technology and refrigeration became the standard in every household; thus taking it’s proper place as the poster child of summer treats.
Where to Find It
Everywhere! It’s almost impossible to go to any city that doesn’t have an ice cream parlor of some sort, an more often than not, sorbet will be on the menu.
How To Make It
This particular recipe utilizes the freshest of blueberries paired with the unique combination of fennel, basil and mint. Fennel gives the sorbet almost a rich honey-like flavor, while the herbs add a fresh aromatic note complimenting the berries perfectly. Additionally, I added in a blueberry fennel simple syrup that makes the flavor even deeper and doubles as an out of this world addition to cocktails or lemonade.
This Michigan Blueberry Fennel Sorbet utilizes the freshest of blueberries paired with the unique combination of fennel, basil and mint. Fennel gives the sorbet almost a rich honey-like flavor, while the herbs add a fresh aromatic note complimenting the berries perfectly. Additionally, blueberry fennel simple syrup is used to make the flavor even deeper.
For the Simple Syrup
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
(Makes approximately 3 cups of simple syrup)
For The Sorbet
6 cups frozen blueberries (I froze my fresh berries the day before)
2 cups blueberry fennel simple syrup
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, slightly crushed
4 tablespoons mint
2 tablespoons basil
Making the Syrup
- In a small sauce pan combine sugar, water, blueberries, and fennel seeds and cook over medium-high heat.
- Stir well and slightly crush berries to release their juice.
- Bring to a boil, then lower temperature to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Once syrup is slightly cooled, strain through a fine mesh colander and set aside until ready to use.
Making the Sorbet
- In a blender or food processor combine frozen blueberries, simple syrup, fennel seeds, mint, and basil.
- Blend on high until ingredients are smooth and well blended.
- Pour in to a sturdy freezer-safe container and freeze overnight.
- If sorbet isn’t soft enough for your liking, unthaw, add some additional sugar, re-blend, and freeze again. The more sugar you add, the softer it will become.
- If you prefer a smoother texture, feel free to strain the sorbet after blending.
- Use any remaining simple syrup for a cocktail (it makes a delicious mojito!) or add to lemonade. It also makes for a great topping for ice cream or pancakes.
What’s your favorite summertime treat?