Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Strawberries, ad delirium

As mentioned in my last post, a fellow foodie invited me strawberry picking last weekend at the beautiful, all-organic Thompson-Finch Farm in Ancram, NY. The kids came, too, and in spite of heat and humidity, we all had a blast. We only lasted about an hour, but that was enough time to fill our baskets and mouths with terrific berries. (As a side note, for someone used to the giant berries that dominate commercial growth in California, the super sweet, smaller berries at Thompson Finch were a welcome change.)

We came home with quarts of berries. We brought some to friends, but still had more left that we could reasonably eat just as-is. I remembered reading a post over at 101 Cookbooks about homemade frozen yogurt, which she described as rivaling Pinkberry's. (Pinkberry, for the uninitiated, is a frozen yogurt chain that's taken Los Angeles, and now NYC, by storm, but is currently embroiled in Seinfeld-ian scandal, accused of actually not selling a yogurt-based product, but instead a milk-powder based froyo--or is that faux-yo? Sorry-- I couldn't resist.) Anyway, I decided to clean out my fridge, already full of delicous sheep's milk yogurt from the local Old Chatham Sheepherdering Company, as well as Fage TOTAL Greek-style) and use up the berries at the same time. The combination of tangy yogurt and macerated berries worked well--my only tip is to not be overly afraid of sugar, or long-term (even overnight) soaking for the berries in their sugary juice. The yogurt is very tangy, and the added sweetness keeps the final product from being sour. If you want to cut back on sugar but still up the sweetness, you can substitute agave nectar for all or some of the sugar, using some when macerating the berries, maybe 1/4 cup, and then adding more to taste before freezing the yogurt.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt ala Heidi & The Perfect Scoop

1 qt. fresh, sweet strawberries, hulled and sliced in half
1/2-3/4 c. sugar (I used organic, evaporated cane juice, because that's what I had)
1-2 t. vanilla extract (optional)
500 grams (one large size package) Fage TOTAL yogurt (I've used both full fat and non fat, and both were delicious, though the full fat version has a slightly creamier mouth feel, as you'd expect)
4 cups Old Chatham Sheepherding Company Plain Sheep's Milk Yogurt (now, obviously you can use any combination of yogurts here, though if I didn't follow this exact recipe, I'd probably do what Heidi suggests in her version, and drain all the yogurt before using it. With this combo, I didn't drain anything.)

Combine the strawberries and sugar and toss gently to combine. Add the vanilla if you're using it. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours to overnight.
If the berries have exuded a lot of liquid you may want to drain some before combining them with both yogurts. A lot of juice in the mix can make your yogurt a bit icier in texture, but will by no means ruin the result.
Combine the macerated berries with the yogurts and stir to combine. Chill the whole mixture one hour.
Freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

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