An overripe strawberry is one that is sweet and juicy, but starting to lose a little bit of its firmness. It’s not the kind of berry that you want to add to a fresh fruit salad because it is not picture-perfect, but it still tastes delicious and there is no reason to throw it out. A basket full of overripe strawberries is the perfect excuse to make up a batch of Strawberry Basil Sorbet.
Sorbets are easy to make and have short ingredient lists that showcase the fruit of your choice. They’re typically made with fruit, sugar and water or juice, and this recipe is no exception. It starts off with lots of fresh strawberries that are blended up with simple syrup and then churned briefly in an ice cream maker to turn it from a lovely puree into a lovely sorbet. It just might be better than a bowl of strawberries by themselves.
Simple syrup is made with equal parts sugar and water. I’ve made sorbets where you simply dissolve the sugar straight into the fruit before, but I opted for a syrup this time because I wanted to add some additional flavor to my sorbet – specifically, fresh basil. Basil is an herb that is more closely associated with tomatoes than with strawberries, but the herb is actually a fantastic match for the sweet, red berries and gives the sorbet a subtle savory and sophisticated note. As you make your syrup, be sure to taste it. I’ve noticed that sometimes I’ve needed more basil than others to give the syrup a strong flavor (it depends a lot on the freshness of your basil leaves).
I do like overripe fruit for making sorbets because it is a good use for them, but you can always use ripe fruit, as well. The sweeter and redder your strawberries are, the more intensely flavored and colored your sorbet will be.
Strawberry Basil Sorbet
4-5 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
20-25 fresh basil leaves
In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves completely in the water. Remove from heat. Bruise your basil leaves with a spoon or knife (gently mashing them to release their flavor) and add them to the syrup. Allow the basil to infuse for 2 hours oor overnight in the refrigerator. Strain the syrup through a strainer to remove basil leaves before using.
In a food processor, combine strawberries and two thirds of the basil simple syrup. Whizz until strawberries are well pureed. Taste the mixture and add additional syrup to sweetened to taste. The sorbet base should be slightly on the sweet side, since it will taste less sweet after it is frozen.
Chill mixture in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, then pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturers directions.
This can also be frozen into a granita by pouring it into a 9×13-inch baking pan and freezing, stirring every 20-30 minutes with a fork to break up ice crystals until frozen.
Store in a freezer safe container in the freezer until ready to serve.
Makes about 1 quart.