Homemade Sorbet

I started making sorbets a few years ago after tasting rhubarb–rosemary sorbet created by our local Sweet Peaks shop. I believe these purveyors of handcrafted ice creams had recently opened and were peddling their chilly concoctions from a converted horse trailer at the weekly farmer’s market. The sorbet was to die for. I immediately thought, “I can grow rosemary, and my shady property produces rhubarb all summer. I could make this!”

A bit of research revealed that I needed to make sorbet: not only does it burst with fruit flavor undiluted by dairy, but it requires no special equipment, like an ice cream maker (although if you own one, you can put it to use). A few tricks and techniques produce a silky sorbet from just about any fruit you can think of and show off herbs and other botanicals. I use two methods, depending on the featured fruit.

Sorbet bursts with fruit flavor undiluted by dairy but requires no special equipment. I use two methods, depending on the featured fruit. Learn to make Raw Fruit Sorbet and Cooked Fruit Sorbet.

Raw Fruit Sorbet

  • Servings: 1 quart
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
This is a basic recipe, giving you the ratios and techniques that I’ve found to work best for a tasty homemade sorbet made with raw fruit. For ingredient ideas, read the Tips & Tricks that follow the recipe.

1 pound fruit (3–4 cups when sliced or chopped)
1/2–1 cup water
1/2–1 cup sweetener
1–2 teaspoons fresh minced herbs and/or spices
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons gin or vodka
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Clean and chop or slice the fruit as needed. Place it in a large bowl and puree until chunky using an immersion blender, or put the fruit into a food processor or upright blender to puree. Add 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 cup of sweetener, and 1 teaspoon of herbs and/or spices. Stir to combine, and then puree, adding more water as needed, until smooth. Taste and add more sweetener and flavorings if desired.

Pour the puree into a shallow pan, such as a 9- by 13-inch baking pan. Cover with a plastic lid or wrap, and freeze for 4–6 hours. During that time, occasionally remove the puree from the freezer, quickly stir it with a fork until it forms pebble-sized chunks, and then return it to the freezer. When the mixture is nearly or fully frozen, pour it into a bowl and run an immersion blender through it (or again use a food processor or upright blender) to smooth out the sorbet. Refreeze the sorbet in the bowl for at least 1 hour before serving, or transfer it to a freezer-proof container for longer storage. Makes about 1 quart.

Tips & Tricks
  • From early-season strawberries to late-season plums, there’s always a fruit available for sorbet. Fruits with soft flesh and removable peels are best for raw fruit sorbets, because they break down easily when pureed; this includes berries, peaches, and melons.
  • The choice of sweetener in a sorbet is yours, as is the amount to use. Even when making a favorite sorbet flavor, I tend to adjust the sweetener by taste for each batch because the natural sweetness of the fruit can vary. For raw sorbets, choose a sweetener that easily breaks down in the fruit, such as ultrafine sugar, or a liquid sweetener, such as a premade simple syrup.
  • The options for herbs and other bonus flavors also vary. I like to use lemon balm with strawberries, lavender with blueberries, basil with peaches, and mint with watermelon.
  • Don’t skip the alcohol; it helps with the texture without affecting the flavor or making anyone tipsy. Many recipes call for corn syrup for the same effect; this is better.
  • I prefer to make multiple sorbets for a crowd (see below), but sorbet recipes are easy to scale up or down for a particular flavor. If you double or triple the recipe, spread the puree shallowly in multiple dishes; thicker puree takes significantly longer to freeze.

Twice as Tasty

Sorbet bursts with fruit flavor undiluted by dairy but requires no special equipment. I use two methods, depending on the featured fruit. Learn to make Raw Fruit Sorbet and Cooked Fruit Sorbet.Raw fruit sorbets are straightforward, but they aren’t ideal for rhubarb, apples, and other fruits that break down better when cooked than when pureed. The additional cooking step is simple: just toss the fruit in a pan with some liquid until soft, and then continue as you would with raw fruit.

The techniques used for Fruit Syrups are also handy when making sorbet. Fruit syrup can even be used as the base instead of the whole fruit, which is particularly ideal for seedy raspberries. Simple syrups are good sweeteners: the sugar is already dissolved, and herbs can be added and then removed to avoid the green flecks that otherwise occur with pureed herbs. At their simplest, homemade syrups are water and sugar heated until the sugar melts in the liquid: think hummingbird food. If you choose to sweeten with a syrup, you will likely need less water to puree your sorbet.

Cooked Fruit Sorbet

  • Servings: 1 quart
  • Difficulty: 2
  • Print
This is a basic recipe, giving you the ratios and techniques that I’ve found to work best for a tasty homemade sorbet made with cooked fruit. For ingredient ideas, read the Tips & Tricks that follow the recipe.

1 pound fruit (3–4 cups when sliced or chopped)
1–1-1/2 cups water
1/2–1 cup sweetener
1–2 teaspoons fresh minced herbs and/or spices
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons gin or vodka
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Clean and chop or slice the fruit as needed. In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the fruit, 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup of sweetener, and 1 teaspoon of herbs and/or spices. Bring to a low simmer and cook 5–10 minutes, until the fruit is soft and sweetener is dissolved. Alternatively, combine the water, sweetener, and flavorings first. Bring to a boil, and then let sit, covered, until cooled to room temperature before removing the flavorings. Combine this simple syrup with the fruit and then cook until soft. Add more water as needed to keep the fruit from sticking to the pan and more sweetener and flavorings to taste.

Remove the pan from the heat and puree the mixture until smooth using an immersion blender; alternatively, transfer it to a food processor or upright blender to puree. Pour the puree into a shallow pan, such as a 9- by 13-inch baking pan, and let cool to room temperature. Cover the pan with a plastic lid or wrap and freeze for 4–6 hours as you would for Raw Fruit Sorbet, mixing the puree with a fork as it becomes slushy and begins to harden and then with an immersion blender when it becomes hard. Refreeze the sorbet for at least 1 hour before serving or in a freezer-proof container for longer storage. Makes about 1 quart.

Tips & Tricks
  • Fruits with tough flesh or with skins you want to retain for their flavor and color are best cooked and then pureed so that they break down more readily; this includes rhubarb, cherries, plums, and pears.
  • You can use up to twice the amount of sweetener as I initially call for, but less sweetness lets the fruit flavor shine through. I lean toward honey in all but the subtlest cooked sorbets, but you could use granulated sugar, agave, or premade simple syrup. Sweetener is best mixed in while the fruit is still warm so that it dissolves completely.
  • For cooked sorbet flavors, I still love the Sweet Peaks–inspired rhubarb and rosemary, but the stalks also pair well with mint; other favorites include Thai basil with sour cherries, a couple of whole cloves with plums, and lemon thyme or ginger with pears. If you’re using whole spices like cloves, remove them from the mixture before you puree it or infuse them into a simple syrup.


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2 thoughts on “Homemade Sorbet

  1. Alanna

    I will try adding alcohol to my cranberry sorbet. Also, thanks for the tip on putting it in shallow dishes. Mine always takes forever.

    Like

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