Pureed frozen fruit probably won’t become the next bacon, or even cupcake. It’s simply not sexy enough.
So-called soft serve fruit is, however, having a moment, recently becoming a darling of the mommy blog set, showing up on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” inspiring a new countertop kitchen appliance, even spawning a product line and small chain of shops, the New York City-based Soft Serve Fruit Co.
And to be clear, we are talking about something that is precisely as it sounds — frozen fruit that is pureed until it reaches the consistency of soft serve ice cream. That’s it.
Soft serve fruit is “the answer to an ice cream lover’s cravings,” says Francesca Borgognone, entertain editor at The Daily Meal.com, who adds that the appeal is easy to understand. “A fraction of the calories and mixed with the same type of fixings that frozen yogurt has — it can be sweet, savory as well as an any-time-of-the-day treat.”
Soft serve fruit has been quietly building a following online, where recipes abound for turning all manner of frozen fruit into treats. It’s hardly complicated. A splash of juice or water, a bag of frozen fruit and a few minutes in a food processor and the result is something that begs for an ice cream cone.
Just type “soft serve fruit” into Pinterest and see the multicolored flurry of frozen fancies that pops up. And kitchen supply companies are keeping up with the trend, marketing appliances specifically for making frozen fruit desserts, like the Yonanas machine that costs around $50. Of course, most people just use their food processors or blenders.
Tanya Steel, editor-in-chief of Epicurious.com, has been on to this idea for a while, keeping foil-wrapped, frozen overripe bananas in the freezer for times when she wants a treat that’s tasty without being calorific.
“I started making them when my kids were little and I was trying to not only curb their constant need and quest for sugar, but also my own,” says Steel, co-author of the cookbook “Real Food for Healthy Kids.” Steel says her site has a number of frozen fruit dessert recipes and “we see incredible interest in them,” she says.
Soft serve fruit “makes so much sense,” she says. “It’s an almost guilt-free treat and you actually feel good about giving it to your kids and you feel good about giving it to yourself.”
For Chloe Epstein, a partner in the Soft Serve Fruit Co., the love of soft serve fruit began with bananas. Expecting for the second time (twins, as it turned out), she craved something sweet, but she wanted it to be healthy, too. Up to then her career had been in law, but she was always looking for innovative ways to create healthy alternatives to favorite indulgences so she decided to try to come up with her own solution.
“We started to experiment with frozen, old, overripened bananas in a blender, juicer and Cuisinart and learned, like many who play in the kitchen, that there was a way to create something like the creamy frozen consistency we craved without all the other ‘stuff,'” she says. The first few efforts encouraged them to incorporate soft serve machines and learn the steps needed to guarantee consistency and taste.
The big challenge was sticking to the goal of keeping the product simple — minimal ingredients — wholesome and nutritionally sound. After a lot of trial and error they found that fruit, filtered water and a touch of organic cane sugar — to keep the machine from “hard-freezing” the mix, not for taste — did the trick. After perfecting bananas they moved on to mango and apple, working with a food professional to get things right.
Strawberry Lime Soft Serve
Start to finish: 5 minutes. Servings: 4.
10-ounce bag frozen strawberries
1/4 cup agave syrup or honey
Juice of 2 limes (about 1/3 cup)
In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Process until very smooth, this may take several minutes. You may need to stop the processor several times to scrape down the sides of the bowl or move any chunks of fruit that aren’t being pureed. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 90 calories; 0 calories from fat (0 percent of total calories); 0 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 22 g sugar; 1 g protein; 0 mg sodium.
Creamy Blueberry Banana Soft Serve
Start to finish: 5 minutes. Servings: 6.
If you want to keep it dairy free, substitute rice milk, coconut milk, or apple juice for the regular milk.
12-ounce bag frozen blueberries
2 frozen bananas, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk
In a food processor, combine the blueberries, bananas, honey, cinnamon and salt. Pulse several times to roughly chop, then add the milk. Process until very smooth, this may take several minutes. You may need to stop the processor several times to scrape down the sides of the bowl or move any chunks of fruit that aren’t being pureed. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 90 calories; 5 calories from fat (6 percent of total calories); 0.5 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 22 g carbohydrate; 3 g fiber; 16 g sugar; 1 g protein; 30 mg sodium.
Tropical Mango Banana Soft Serve
Start to finish: 5 minutes. Servings: 4.
10-ounce bag frozen mango chunks
1 very ripe banana
1/4 cup sweetened cream of coconut
1 tablespoon orange juice
In a food processor, combine the mango, banana, cream of coconut and salt. Pulse several times to roughly chop, then add the orange juice. Process until very smooth, this may take several minutes. You may need to stop the processor several times to scrape down the sides of the bowl or move any chunks of fruit that aren’t being pureed. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 140 calories; 30 calories from fat (21 percent of total calories); 3 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 24 g sugar; 1 g protein; 45 mg sodium.