MANILA, Philippines – Summer is here, and so is berry season, and we’re berry excited for what’s in store from our local farmers! Strawberries aside, there’s a new locally-sourced berry in town and in season – it’s the sampinit, an indigenous fruit grown at the foot of mountains in Mount Cristobal in San Pablo, Laguna, and Mount Banahaw, Quezon.
Local artisanal ice cream shop Sebastian’s is putting the well-deserved spotlight on sampinit this summer with their first-ever Sampinit Collection, using the hand-picked fruit in their new ice cream, sorbet, and ice pop.
Berry nice to meet you
Hailed as the local version of the raspberry, sampinit resembles it in terms of look, texture, and taste – it’s a small, soft berry that bursts in your mouth with its tart juice, and comes with very small seeds that are crunchy when you bite into them.
According to Sebastian’s, sampinit is “extremely seasonal,” and is only available from January to April, with its peak season in March. When it is meticulously and laboriously picked by hand, farmers have to be wary of the plant’s tiny sharp thorns.
There is a sampinit farm in Mount Banahaw run by Dion Pullan, an Australian environmentalist who worked to cultivate the wild crop in the Philippines upon seeing its potential. After carefully cultivating the plant, Pullan successfully propagated it by planting stem cuttings in prepared soil plots. This farm is where Sebastian’s directly sources their sampinit berries from.
It’s a tarty party
For Sebastian’s new sweet-sour offerings, fresh sampinit is made into a puree, sans the small seeds which are strained out prior. When pureed, sampinit’s “intense tartness” comes out even more; Sebastian’s compares it to the sourness level of raspberries and cranberries. To balance it out and “mellow down the acidity,” a moderate amount of sugar is added to the puree. The end result is a refreshingly tangy-sweet, bright flavor that fans of berries will love.
Sebastian’s Sampinit Season flavor is their signature dairy ice cream made with fresh sampinit berries, similar to a strawberries and cream flavor, but less rich. It’s a “delicately tart” ice cream that is light on sugar, creamy, mildly sweet, and sour, garnished with whole sampinit berries. It costs P155 per scoop and P465 per pint.
For something icier and more refreshing, the Sampinit Sorbet is a fruit sorbet made with fresh sampinit, filtered water, cane sugar, and a “little glucose for texture.” If you want less of the dairy and more of the raw berry’s flavors to shine, go for the sorbet, which is also dairy-free and vegan-friendly! It costs P155 per scoop and P465 per pint.
The popsicle version of the sampinit sorbet is the Sampinit Ice Pop, which is a simple, easy-to-enjoy paleta packed with the natural flavor of sampinit – perfect to cool down with on hot days! It costs P75 per piece.
Sebastian’s limited edition Sampinit Collection is available at The Podium branch and online for delivery via website starting Friday, March 25 and until the sampinit season lasts. – Rappler.com
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