Frozen fruity goodness
July 19, 2014 4:36 PM   Subscribe

The Science of the Best Sorbet
Though it's just as easy to make as ice cream, sorbet is a little less forgiving—its lack of fat and eggs mean you have to be more careful with your recipe. Now the good news: sorbet has a science like anything else, and once you learn a few things you'll be ready to turn any fruit into fresh, full-flavored, and creamy sorbet—something so creamy you might confuse it for ice cream.

Includes recipes for Strawberry Sorbet; Rich, Tart Lemon Sorbet; Easy Peach Sorbet; Mango Sorbet; Clementine Sorbet; Plum Sorbet; Raspberry-Campari Sorbet; Creamy Persimmon Sorbet; Pear, Riesling, and Ginger Sorbet; Spicy Pineapple and Tequila Sorbet; Cranberry and Lillet Rouge Sorbet; and Sour Cherry and Lavender Sorbet.
posted by Lexica (11 comments total) 80 users marked this as a favorite
In the other recent ice cream thread I mentioned I got a baby ice cream maker that makes only a half-pint at a time (they give you two churn bowls, though, so you can make a pint) and I have been making a ton of sorbet with this thing.

I started using it to get through a backlog of frozen fruit I had in my freezer; I'd gotten a bunch of fruit a couple years ago in some misguided assumption I would be making smoothies. Instead it's been turning into kiwi sorbet, kiwi/strawberry sorbet, peach sorbet...and then I added some of the fruit I've been getting with the CSA - my fruit rule of thumb this summer has been "when in doubt, make sorbet." I'll be doing that with a backlog of raspberries, maybe mixing them with some of the blueberries I got today....the gooseberry sorbet was really interesting, and bet sorbet with some of the red currants I got today would be really interesting.

But yeah - get good fruit, and then get out of the way. I've already tried some of the raspberry and it was INCREDIBLE.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:51 PM on July 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

I love sorbets and ices so much more than ice cream - no coated tongue.

Lately I've been on a granita kick because there's not enough room in our freezer for the ice-cream maker insert. Right now we have Lidia's mint granita, although next time I make it I will try cutting back on the sugar. Next up is some kind of lemon-ginger concoction. And I think the texture of watermelon works better in a granita than sorbet (the main article implies as much).
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:08 PM on July 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I made a sorbet recently actually, and though it was tasty, it did not keep well in the freezer. (Got very watery.) As a proficient ice cream maker, I was rather disappointed. So, this is relevant to my interests. Thanks!
posted by likeatoaster at 5:23 PM on July 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

My kid's allergic to dairy so I'm always looking for safe ice cream. Found this gadget on sale at Walmart and the reviews convinced me to take the $30 gamble.

Wired review: Yonanas: I Scream for Frozen Fruit
Gizmodo review: yonanas Review: Stupid Name, Amazing Dessert

As I write this, the dairy-allergic kid is making some for his cousins. Tastes a lot like ice cream, and is so little work. The only tough part is keeping them in frozen banana chunks.
posted by wenat at 8:20 PM on July 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't know, this article is pretty muddled, and the claim of "science" has my hackles up; there's a bit of interesting sciencey stuff in the beginning but none of it seems to factor in at all to discussions of how to make sorbet, and the attempts at science in the latter parts are not good.

One main point seems to be something about simple syrup vs corn syrup (the author has another slightly clearer, but still unconvincing article on this). Here's what I can extract on the logic of this main point in this article. First, the author complains about simple syrup because it dilutes the fruit base and suggests it is just used because of tradition and simplicity in a busy kitchen, and in some cases because the puree is too thick. Later, paragraphs away in an apparently unrelated comment, he observes that lemon juice is too tart to be sweetened just with sugar and needs to be diluted to make an edible sorbet. Then he suggests that corn syrup is always preferable to sugar because it doesn't need to be diluted and doesn't taste as sweet as sugar so you can add more of it, leading to a thickening effect on the texture you won't get with sugar (or simple syrup). A blind comparison of sugar vs corn syrup in lemon sorbet leads to tasters preferring corn syrup (science!). But then, it turns out that his preferred lemon sorbet recipe actually uses both corn syrup and water, diluting the fruit base! It is completely unclear what he is testing, what general principles he might have in mind in terms of making sorbet in e.g. a McGee style of approach, etc.

I haven't tried the corn syrup thing, and I probably will, but in terms of the main test case of lemon it sounds like it simply produces something qualitatively different from classic lemon sorbet. In fact, I suspect that is the goal, from the suggestion at the beginning that we want "something so creamy you might confuse it for ice cream." (Hint: that's not the point of sorbet.) From reading the other article which discusses the blind test in more detail I can report that his experiment involved holding everything constant in terms of ingredients (though he doesn't specify the sugar recipe or even say of simple syrup was used) except amount of sugar. This is terrible experimental design, unless the question is purely how does sweetener type affect texture of sorbet. Overall quality, which is what his tasters were evaluating, simply is not the right dependent variable for this experiment. Basically, the experiment implicitly optimized for the texture of the corn syrup end of the spectrum, so of course it's going to produce a bad simple syrup lemon sorbet. What we learn from this is that you can't use the same recipe holding everything but sweetener constant and make a good sorbet, and no more.

Another main point is some idea that all you need to know is 4 parts (by volume!) fruit to one part sweetener. If you read the text, or try making any sorbet (or really any fruit-based desert at all, e.g. upside cake etc), you'll realize this is a fairly useless ratio because of the massive amount of adjustment per kind of fruit, and even ripeness / taste within individual fruit. There are a few other small things, like a bit of mild bashing of alcohol as a tool for controlling freezing point, but then it turns out the author's lemon sorbet recipe has alcohol too!

My advice if this is relevant to your interests? Ignore these articles and first pick up David Lebowitz' The Perfect Scoop. It will tell you how to make an excellent lemon sorbet with simple syrup, and it isn't rocket science.
posted by advil at 12:12 AM on July 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

My advice if this is relevant to your interests? Ignore these articles and first pick up David Lebowitz' The Perfect Scoop. It will tell you how to make an excellent lemon sorbet with simple syrup, and it isn't rocket science.

Ok, this was excessively snarky, sorry. I did learn a bunch of interesting things from these articles, and don't regret reading them. Here's a more productive rephrasing:

My advice if you haven't made sorbet before? Start first with David Lebovitz' The Perfect Scoop. Incidentally, here's my favorite creamy sorbet recipe, which is from that book.
posted by advil at 12:33 AM on July 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Serious Eats is such an amazing site. It really makes me understand what is happening inside the dishes that I've been making for years. If I like to spend a day, once in a while, making the perfect something something, I always find some great kitchen project here. My butcher doesn't even blink an eye anymore when I open up my sub zero cooler bag, when he gently places the holy ground meat mix on the bottom. Last week I finally managed to get him over to taste the burger I made out of that. His review? 'Teringlekker, man!' (Fucking delicious, man!)
This post makes me hate it's Sunday, no markets with fresh fruit today, grrrr.
posted by ouke at 3:29 AM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Pureed fruit or juice, strained. Sweetened as needed. Liquid nitrogen in a stand mixer. Done.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:58 AM on July 20, 2014

The gelato place in my town has mastered a dark chocolate sorbet that is to die for.
posted by starvingartist at 3:25 PM on July 20, 2014

Pureed fruit or juice, strained.

ok easy enough

Sweetened as needed.

sure why not

Liquid nitrogen in a stand mixer

*buys ice cream instead*
posted by elizardbits at 9:31 PM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

But for reals I was a longtime enemy of that frozen banana thing because lbr bananas are grody, weird texture, sometimes overwhelming bananay taste that tastes weirdly fake, you buy a bunch and they're not ready for a week and then suddenly overnight they are black mush. Fuck bananas, I hate them.

But then I discovered this place by union square that makes dark chocolate sorbet out of mushed frozen bananas and dark chocolate and that's it and I can eat it a lot and not die from lactose and it tastes awesome and I only still feel a little bit betrayed because bananas.
posted by elizardbits at 9:33 PM on July 20, 2014

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