The Christmas to January holiday period sees us eating many cherries and this year we decided to include a family day out picking our own up at Red Hill Cherry Farm in Victoria. My intentions were to pick some morello sour cherries to cook with; however I came across an interesting cherry sorbet recipe I found in an old magazine I was clearing out and was intrigued by the combination of cherries and basil used together. Yes you may think that this sounds quite odd but on the contrary, it is quite lovely. So my curiosity got the better of me and I focused on picking some sweet cherries instead to try this marriage of flavours.
I was pleasantly surprised by how refreshing the basil taste was, cutting through the sweetness of the cherries. You can adjust the amount of basil used depending on how pronounced you want the flavour to be. I went with the recommended amount as I was curious to experience the full flavours. The basil plants in my garden are growing happily at the moment and their leaves are quite large, so they did pack a punch of flavour to this sorbet.
Sorbetto di Cigliege e Basilico (Cherry & Basil Sorbet)
500 g pitted fresh cherries
1 ½ cups water
1 cup white sugar
2 -3 sprigs fresh basil, to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to the boil over medium – high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the sugar dissolves, stirring periodically for about 5 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat and drop in the basil using more or less depending on taste. I used all 3 sprigs. Place the syrup in the fridge to cool for about an hour to allow the basil flavour to develop. Remove the basil leaves and discard.
Place pitted cherries, 1 cup of the basil syrup, and the lemon juice in a blender, and process until smooth. You can strain the mixture or use it as is. I don’t like throwing out any of the fruit and therefore did not strain the mixture. This results in a more fruity texture to the sorbet. The sorbet mixture can be made up to 24 hours in advance.
I hope you give this a try as I am certain you will also be pleasantly surprised by how lovely and refreshing it is.