Inspired by mustikkakeitto, or Finnish blueberry soup, Spiced Blueberry Sorbet tastes like summer. I made it this week to greet summer’s return.
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Just like that
And just like that, spring became summer. Eighty-nine degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) in Somerville on Saturday, and humid. I met up with an out-of-town friend I hadn’t seen since September in Davis Square. Both of us positively wilting, we had iced coffee, followed by a couple of spins through air-conditioned shops and a lunch of salads and cold beer. We drifted some more, catching up and laughing, and sitting where possible. We then had ice cream from JP Lick’s, and that absolutely hit the spot. Summer is made for ice cream (and sorbet).
A skill from last summer: making homemade ice cream and sorbet
Last summer, a bit bored, I decided to learn a new skill, and I bought an ice cream maker and a copy of The Perfect Scoop. The fruits of my learning were most tasty ice creams and sorbets. One of my favorite frozen treats, though, did not come from the pages of the Perfect Scoop, but from an idea I had after making blueberry soup, or mustikkakeitto, as the Finns call it.
Mustikkakeitto, or Finnish blueberry soup
Mustikkakeitto is a quick and easy dish to make, generally served cold. There’s a million different recipes for it, but I generally followed the one in Fire and Ice, a cookbook I’d picked up after my trip to Finland. I didn’t have it there, but I had enjoyed other fruit dishes there (especially ones with cloudberries!). My mom mentioned that her Finnish mother used to make fruit soups in the summer, so making this made me feel connected to my past, if not my specific travels.
Blueberries, spiced with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg, brightened with lemon, and sweetened with sugar, simmer on the stove for a few minutes, making your house smell like a blueberry pie made at Christmas. And yet mustikkakeitto tastes exactly like summer.
After making blueberry soup a couple of times and enjoying it immensely, I got to thinking about making it into a sorbet. I looked up a couple of berry sorbet recipes, most made with a simple syrup, so I decided to add the mustikkakeitto spices and the lemon to the sugar and water, before mixing it into the pureed blueberries and straining.
And behold, Spiced Blueberry Sorbet was born
I took a taste as I scooped the sorbet out of the ice cream maker, and it was good. Unique. I kept making it throughout the summer. Looking at the weekend weather forecast last week, I whipped some up and left the base to chill.
The only real secret to Spiced Blueberry Sorbet is to let the mixture chill in the refrigerator for at least twenty-four hours before churning. In general, ice creams and sorbets benefit from a long chill to allow the flavors to develop, but I also noticed that I liked mustikkakeitto a lot better the next day and the day after that.
Otherwise, just remember to not wear your best clothes when making this, as it will stain whatever it touches.
Spiced Blueberry Sorbet
- Ice cream maker
For the simple syrup (note that you will have extra—use it to make another batch!)
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of water
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- A generous pinch of cardamom
- A couple grates of nutmeg
- One half a lemon, sliced in 1/4 inch thick
For the sorbet
- 4 cups blueberries fresh or frozen. Wild blueberries are better, if you can get them
- 1/3 cup water
For the spiced simple syrup
- In a small saucepan, add all of the ingredients. Heat over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Cool completely. Remove the cinnamon stick and the lemon. Refrigerate. Keeps about one month. You'll have extra (make another batch!)
For the sorbet
- In a blender, combine the berries and the water. Puree to combine. Note that you might want to give it a little stir, especially if you are using frozen blueberries part way through. Stir in 1 cup of spiced simple syrup.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pushing on the blueberries to try and extract as much flavor as possible. You might want to strain it again to get rid of any trace of pulp (I tend not to do this). You’ll have about two cups of liquid
- Refrigerate for at least eight hours, preferably a whole day. Letting this chill for a bit longer really allows the flavors to develop
- Freeze in your ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions
- Transfer to containers and freeze in the deepest part of your freezer for at least a few hours before serving