Johnny’s 236th birthday dinner: Course Number One:
Apple, Sumac and Salted Rose Vinegar
4 small apples
2 sumac seed cones
1.5 cups water
Chinese salted rose vinegar or white vinegar, rose water and dash of salt.
Peel and cut 4 small apples. I collected mine from a tree off of the Lake Shore Drive bike path between 47th Street and 18th Street. I always wait until a bunch have fallen on the ground. No one seems to collect them, so I help myself. The apples are tart and very wormy. The favor is very good and the worms can be removed when dicing.
Fall is a perfect time to harvest sumac, that beautiful plant that grows along side so many Illinois highways. Be sure to check online and find the edible sumac. I do not collect right next to large roadways, worrying about pollution, but if you are not familiar with them, that is a good place to start identifying.
I stripped and washed two deep rust red cone and put them in the blender with about a cup and half of water. Boil briefly and strain. The flavor is lemony and wonderful, but the bristles are hairy, so straining is a good idea. I save the seeds and roast then grind them. They are used as in the Middle Eastern as rub on meats and other things.
Add apples to sumac water a little sugar to taste. Cook until mushy, about 10 minutes.
I put this batch through a food mill because I have one so I didn’t bother to core well. If not, make sure you peel and core the apples well and put in a blender. In the end you should have a thin apple saucey batch.
My daughter has an ice cream maker, so I just put it in and let it spin. If you do not have an ice cream maker, I would put ¾ in ice cubes and when frozen add all the liquid and cubes into a blender and let it roll. You will get something cold, delicious and subtly aromatic.
The sorbet was served as a dollop on a large spoon and really opened up the old taste buds.
Comment from guests:
“This reminds me of Indian desserts without all the grease.”
“Smells like my grandmother’s underwear drawer.” Which with the tone and facial expressions was a deep compliment.