There are many ways to make sorbet. This, by far, is the simplest. All you need is fruit and sugar.
Sorbet, by definition, is nothing more than fruit, sugar, and water combined then churned in an ice cream machine. The trick is knowing how much of each you need. Let’s break it down.
Sugar not only sweetens the sorbet, it also lowers the freezing point. Too little sugar and the result is a big brick of fruit-flavored ice – impossible to scoop. Too much sugar and you’ve got a slushie that never fully freezes.
Ripeness is everything. Using the ripest, best fruit you can find is the secret to great sorbet no matter what method or recipe you use. The fruit is the source of all the flavor in your sorbet.
Fruit also brings more sugar to the party. How much depends on the season and ripeness of the fruit. Berries at peak season are going to be a whole lot sweeter than pears will ever be. Every batch of fruit is different which makes figuring out how much sugar a sorbet a big mystery.
A true gelatiere uses an instrument called a refractometer that measures the concentration of sugar to figure out the perfect balance in a sorbet mixture. For the ice cream geeks out there, you can get one for about 30 bucks on Amazon. Or you can use ‘the formula.’
It’s simple: 1 cup of sugar plus 4 cups of fruit puree. That’s it. It works with just about any fruit. You may need to make some adjustments but they should be minor. Like anything, the more you practice the more you’ll develop an instinct Think of it as a starting place for building your sorbet.
- Combine fruits – you don’t have to stick to a single fruit
- Measure berry purees AFTER you have strained out seeds
- Thin puree that is too thick by adding lemon juice, alcohol or water one TBS at a time (needed for fibrous fruits like pears, peaches, etc)
- Alcohol will lower the freezing point – I suggest 1-2 TBS
- Cook the fruit first if you prefer – gently heat enough to soften the fruit then blend into a puree
- Add flavors like herbs or fruit zest to the finished puree or if cooking the fruit, toss in some spice (star anise, cardamon, etc)
- Disaster strikes and it doesn’t work (it happens) just melt it down adjust the ingredients, chill then churn it again the ice cream maker
- This formula produces a delicious sorbet with a fairly firm texture. For a creamy texture ( like you’d find in a gelateria) try recipes made with a sorbet syrup like: Meyer Lemon Sorbet, Impossible Chocolate Sorbet, Prosecco or Mandarin Ginger.
NO RECIPE SORBET
This simple formula is the foundation for you to build your own homemade sorbets with just about any fruit. Add herbs, spices, and alcohol whatever you like. The possibilities are endless!
- 1 1/2–2lbs fresh or frozen ripe fruit
- 1 cup sugar
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- pinch of salt
If you are cooking the fruit, gently heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until the fruit is soft and just starting to break apart then take it off the heat.
Puree the fruit (cooked or raw) using an immersion blender (or in a blender) until it’s the texture of a loose liquid. If there are a lot of seeds (as in the case of raspberries) push the mixture through a sieve. There should be 4 cups of fruit puree.
Combine 4 cups of fruit puree (raw or cooked), sugar, lemon juice, and other flavorings. Adjust as necessary. Chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 20 minutes.
Process in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
The sorbet is finished when it reaches the consistency of soft-serve ice cream (about 20-30 minutes in most machines)
Scoop into a container, place a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper on the surface and freeze until firm (2-4 hours minimum)