A blog of hopeful, inspired living: cooking & baking & growing & harvesting & preserving & gleaning & eating & sharing food... while bringing positive change to my kitchen and our food system.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tamarind Sorbet or Agua Fresca

Yay tamarind! Before you skip over this, thinking tamarind is an exotic and strange thing that you have never heard of, don't know where to find, or don't care about...give tamarind a chance. It is an extraordinary fruit pulp that is quite delicious and surprisingly nutritious. This sweet-sour fruit (officially a legume), contains high amounts of potassium, calcium, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium, as well as vitamins C and B and antioxidants. Quite a powerhouse of a fruit -- it's especially unusual to see a fruit with such high levels of iron and Vitamin B. And it is really delicious -- sweet, sour, tangy, addictive. I've used it in savory Indian dishes, as well as in sweet drinks and dessert. I've also seen tamarind candies at the Latino market coated with chili -- sweet and spicy. This recipe is an adaptable summer winner -- it can be churned into a refreshing sorbet or mixed with additional water and ice for sipping in the sun. It's sweet, yet not cloyingly so.

tamarind still in their pods

I sometimes buy whole tamarind by the pound in the Latino market place near my work and spend way too much time removing the shells, veins and seeds. It's meditative. And you can snack on the fruit as you go. Usually I just opt for purchasing the packaged pulp, which is already shell-, vein- and seed-free and ready to use (some ready-to-use pulp still has seeds in it- but it's still easy to use). I've found it in the freezer section of Latino markets and also in shelf-stable blocks at Indian markets.

sticky tamarind removed from it's shell

Tamarind Sorbet or Agua Fresca (adapted from My Sweet Mexico, by Fany Gerson)

8 ounces tamarind pulp 
4 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar

For agua fresca:
Additional 2- 3 cups water

1. Bring the pulp to a boil in the 4 cups of water. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 to 40 minutes, until very tender. 
2. Strain through a fine sieve, saving the liquid and putting the pulp in the sieve aside (you'll use it in a minute).
3. Measure the liquid, adding more to make make 4 cups.  
4. Put the liquid back in the pot with the sugar and heat to dissolve the sugar, without boiling. Remove from the heat. See the photo below for what this should look like.
5. Press the pulp through the sieve and add to the liquid, separating out the seeds. Stir to combine. 
6. Chill the mixture in a covered container over night (or more quickly in an ice bath). Freeze in your ice cream maker, or The Kitchen Generation has great directions for making sorbet without an ice cream maker.
7. To make tamarind agua fresca, add an additional 2 - 3 cups water, to taste. Chill. Serve over ice.

Enjoy! Stay cool!

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