Strawberries, sugar, pectin, and lemon juice
Being someone that really loves food, I can’t really think of any foods that I don’t like or least nothing that I would not try at least once (not speaking for Melissa, of course!). Well, that’s not entirely true, there is one exception–strawberries! I grew up with a severe allergy to strawberries until around the age of 18, and therefore formed quite an aversion to the seedy red fruit. The reason we are focusing so much on strawberries is because it made logical sense to use all of the strawberries in their entirety after making the Strawberry Stem Water (the recipes do give you the option to use quite a few other fruits).
These recipes are the second stage of the Strawberry’s destruction and uses the whole strawberries after their hull removal in the previous post.
First, the whole strawberries were blended into a smooth purée.
The purée was then passed through our very fine meshed conical strainer to remove the “pulp”. The resulting purée was silky and smooth. The pulp was set aside for a future recipe (stay tuned for that!).
In the picture below, you can see approximately how much pulp (on the left) we got out of our two pounds of strawberries. There’s an interesting differentiation in colour between the two. We separated the blended strawberries into two portions to use in these two recipes.
The next step is where things got a little complicated for us. The recipe calls for yellow peach, which didn’t make sense to us, so we contacted the restaurant for clarification. It turns out, the recipe should call for yellow pectin. If anyone reading this is going to try this recipe, note this substitution!
Without thinking too much about it, we picked up some pectin in the canning section of the grocery store. Getting back home and ready to add it to the purée, we noticed something disconcerting. The regular “pectin crystals” package sold for making jams and jellies is not a pure form of pectin; it’s a combination of sugar, funicular acid and pectin, in that order. After doing some research online, it was really interesting to learn that pectin is a naturally occurring bio-polymer the walls of cells. To be used as a gelling agent, it requires sugar and acid.
Warning: Science! Low pH environments cause pectin molecules to bind together through hydrogen bonding. Sugar binds with the water in the solution and forces pectin to bind together to form the matrix needed to form a gel. The NH pectin that we need in this recipe, has added calcium bonds, which helps the gel become thermally reversible (and thus melts in your mouth).
Anyways, needless to say, we were lucky to be able to find the right pectin! We just adjusted the recipe accordingly to account for the added sugar and acid in the pectin we purchased.
The purée was brought to a simmer and mixed with water, sugar, glucose, lemon juice and citric acid. The mixture was then transferred to a parchment paper-lined dish and put into the fridge to cool and (hopefully) set.
This resulting mixture was a glossy and viscous strawberry syrup, which tasted like the smoothest strawberry jam we had ever tasted!
To our delight, the mixture set beautifully and we were left with a very firm gel. This is where we had some fun cutting up the gel into shapes and trying different approaches to plating.
Here you can see the consistency of the gel:
The final product was coated in some sugar to make it a little less sticky and easier to pick up and eat.
We really enjoyed making this recipe. It played to our nerdy side to learn the science behind pectin and its role in making this sweet candy. I would really love to try this recipe with some blueberries or raspberries when they are in season again!
While snacking on the fruit paste candies, we added some sugar to what was left of the strawberry purée and some lemon juice to adjust the acidity. The mixture was then churned in our ice cream maker until it became a smooth sorbet. This was then placed into the freezer overnight.
The following day, we were excited to plate up this dessert! The sorbet was a little hard, but we let it sit out for a few minutes to soften it slightly. Remember the Rhubarb Cannoli we made? Fortunately, we kept the leftover strawberry powder–it was a perfect accompaniment to this sorbet (hooray for hoarding powders)! We also still have our Elderberry, Blood Orange, and Grapefruit powders, maybe one day these will come in handy as well!
All that was left to do was to pour some strawberry powder on a plate, quenelle the sorbet, and eat!
This was simply wonderful! The acidity of the sorbet worked perfectly with the sweet and crunchy texture of the powdered sugar. We literally ate all of the sorbet we made in a matter of minutes, it was delicious (apologies to the friends we could have shared this with!).