Ice creams are loaded with eggs, fat and other ingredients to help them achieve a soft and creamy texture. But frozen desserts can taste equally rich without those ingredients. A well-made sorbet, for example, has an equally delicate texture but is lighter and more refreshing. Most sorbets are simply made with fruit, water and sugar, with the sugar acting as “anti-freeze” to keep the fruit soft. Professionals use high-tech test equipment to get the right proportions, but you can fake it with a few simple techniques.
Things You'll Need
The Fruit Puree Technique
Peel and seed your fruit or berries of choice, if appropriate, or simply wash them well. Puree the fruit in a blender or food processor, or place it in a mixing bowl and puree it instead with an immersion-type “stick” blender.
Push the puree through a fine-mesh strainer, if you wish, to remove any lumps, overlooked pieces of skin, or stringy fibers from your puree. This step is optional but can give a better-textured puree depending which fruit or berries you’ve chosen.
Measure your strained puree into a mixing bowl, and add 1 part ordinary table sugar for every 4 parts fruit. Fruits vary widely in sweetness, but this 4-to-1 ratio ensures there’s enough sugar in the mixture to yield a soft, fine-textured sorbet. Mix thoroughly, until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Taste the mixture and adjust its flavors as needed. Add slightly more sugar, if it’s still too tart for your liking, or a splash of lemon or lime juice if it’s sweeter than you’d like. Refrigerate the mixture for an hour or longer, if time permits. The colder your fruit is, the more quickly and evenly it will freeze.
Pour the sorbet mixture into your already chilled ice cream maker and run it until the sorbet is frozen to a soft-serve consistency. You can serve it at this stage or package it in airtight containers to firm up in the freezer.
Fruit Juice Method
Prepare a batch of simple syrup by measuring equal volumes of sugar and water into a saucepan — for example, 2 cups of each — and bringing the mixture to a boil. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, cool the syrup and pour it into a sterile jar or container. The syrup will keep for months in your refrigerator, so there’s no harm in making a large batch.
Pour an intensely flavored juice or mixture of juices into a tall, narrow, food-safe container. Stir in 1 part simple syrup for every 5 to 6 parts juice, or approximately 1/2 cup to 2 1/2 or 3 cups of juice.
Wash a whole egg with plenty of dish soap, then rinse it thoroughly to remove any residue. Wipe it dry with a clean paper towel, then use a spoon to gently lower it into the fruit juice. If it drops from sight, remove it from the container and add another half-cup of syrup. Stir this in, and return the egg to your container.
Repeat these steps until the egg floats, with a spot of shell about the size of a U.S. quarter showing above the surface of the sweetened juice. At that concentration, your sorbet mixture is ready to freeze.
Remove the egg from your container, and pour the juice mixture into your ice cream maker. Process until it reaches a texture reminiscent of soft-serve ice cream, then scoop it into airtight containers and transfer it to your freezer.
The Party Trick
Pour a half-cup of simple syrup into your blender jar. Add a comparable quantity of frozen berries or small pieces of frozen fruit, and pulse several times until you no longer hear the rattle and clunk of frozen chunks striking the blades.
Add another handful of frozen fruit. Pulse the blender again, shaking it periodically or stopping the blender and prodding the fruit with the handle of a wooden spoon to loosen it if it’s stuck.
Continue, alternately adding fruit and a few tablespoons of simply syrup, until you’ve got 2 or 3 cups of soft, smooth sorbet. Spoon it into small, pre-chilled cups or bowls, and serve immediately, because it will melt more quickly than conventional sorbet.
References and ResourcesSerious Eats: The Science Of the Best Sorbet
Zoe Bakes: Sorbet 101 -- A Trick to Getting a Smooth Sorbet From Any Juice!