It was May, just as the strawberry fields were beginning to ripen, when my family and I moved to rural Oregon from the desert southwest. A big hand-painted plywood sign announcing “U-Pick Strawberries” near our new house beckoned. As motivation and reward I promised my then nine, seven, and three-year-old kids we would go as soon as we were unpacked and settled in.
Having grown up in cities, this “U-Pick” idea was just the best thing I’d ever heard of. Farmers actually let people onto their property to pick their produce? I had no idea I was expected to bring our own buckets or bowls, and we showed up that first day empty-handed and wearing inappropriate shoes for farm work.
Farmers, in general, are really nice people, and they had met our kind before. Spare grocery sacks were handed out, and we skipped off to our assigned rows.
The four of us had never tasted strawberries before. Yes, we’d had the trucked-in grocery store variety a lot of times, but the color, aroma, and taste of these field-ripened berries was like Dorothy entering the technicolor Land of Oz.
The kids and I laughed and stopped to look at the loamy earth, the bugs, and the whiskery leaves of the strawberry plants growing in mounds. We raced to see who could pick the most berries. There was no way to hide my then three-year-old’s strawberry-stained face, hands, and belly, and truth be told all of us had eaten our fair share in the field. I offered to pay for what we’d eaten, and the clerk made me a customer for life when she laughed and said it was all part of the experience.
There are no words to describe how alive I felt that day.
It was then I realized what a sheltered life I’d lived in the big city. It was then that I developed my sustained mad crush on local farms, farm stands, farmers, and the generosity of Oregon itself. That day goes down as one of the best in my life, and it changed me forever.
As the summer moved along and for many summers afterward we U-picked cherries, raspberries, blueberries, and Oregon’s famous Marionberries. Wonder-filled memories were made through the years, from the gathering of the berries to the lovely things we made and ate from them.
Fun Dessert Duo: Strawberry Sorbet + Strawberry Ice Cream
The only thing better than ice cream for dessert is ice cream and sorbet for dessert! Making them with the same fruit makes a beautifully balanced contrast of color, tanginess, sweetness, creaminess and frostiness.
This type of dessert duo is one of my entertaining go-to’s. The frozen desserts can be made in advance– a big win for any host! There is something show-stopping about serving the two this way.
I like to serve my ice cream/sorbet duos with some type of cookie, often a shortbread or something nutty. This time I made my Rustic + Lovely Hazelnut Meringue Cookies.
Strawberry Sorbet and Strawberry Ice Cream Duo (Dairy-Free)
Strawberry Sorbet Ingredients
- 2 lbs. strawberries, hulled and quartered (about 5 ½ cups)
- 2 small lemons, divided
- ¾ – 1 cup sugar depending on the ripeness of the berries)
- 1 pinch salt
Dairy-Free Strawberry Ice Cream Ingredients
- 10 oz. strawberries, hulled and quartered, divided (about 2 ½ cups)
- 1 13.6 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
- ½ – ⅔ cup honey depending the the ripeness of the berries
- ½ tsp. xanthan gum
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 3 drops almond extract (optional)
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
Strawberry Sorbet Instructions
- Prepare (hull and quarter) strawberries and set aside.
- In a food processor, process ½ small lemon with sugar, pulsing and whirring until the lemon is in tiny even bits and fully incorporated into the sugar.
- Add the strawberries, the juice of 1 ½ lemons, and the salt. Process until the strawberries are completely pureed, stopping to scrape the sides a few times to incorporate all of the sugar mixture.
- For best results, chill the sorbet mixture at least one hour or up to overnight. (It will freeze better in an ice cream maker if it is chilled, or you can make it ahead to this step and freeze the mixture the next day.) Freeze according to your ice cream maker directions. For soft-serve, serve right away. For a firmer scoop, store in the freezer for an hour before serving.
Dairy-Free Strawberry Ice Cream Instructions
- Reserve about ⅓ of the hulled and quartered strawberries. Add all remaining ingredients (⅔ of the berries through lemon juice) to a food processor and process until smooth.
- Add the reserved ⅓ strawberries to the mixture in the processor, and pulse a few times to break them up into bits and chunks.
- For best results, chill the ice cream mixture at least one hour or up to overnight. (It will freeze better in an ice cream maker if it is chilled, or you can make it ahead to this step and freeze the mixture the next day.) Freeze according to your ice cream maker directions. For soft-serve, serve right away. For a firmer scoop, store in the freezer for an hour before serving.