Easy Fruit Sorbets
Nothing is more evocative of summer than fresh fruit captured in a cooling, refreshing Easy Fruit Sorbets. Best of all they can be simply made without any fancy equipment, though there are some excellent ice-cream machines on the market. Sorbets are a fat-free, a refreshing alternative to ice-cream and great for the lactose intolerant.
Always use fruit at its peak of ripeness and flavour as freezing can diminish the flavour. Add a little lemon or lime juice to all fruit sorbets to heighten the flavour and balance the sweetness of the sugar which itself is necessary for the sorbet to have a smooth texture. The mixture will taste a little sweet before freezer but this compensates for the numbing effect eating something icy has on the tastebuds. Best of all as it needs time to freeze and keeps frozen well, it can be made in advance.
Basic Lime or Lemon Sorbet
Serves: 4 to 6
Preparation time: 10 minutes + freezing for several hours or overnight
Cooking: 8 minutes
220g (1 cup) sugar
juice of 6 limes (200mls), zest
- Making the Sugar Syrup. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir only until the sugar is dissolved and heat to boiling point. Boil gently for 5 minutes or until the syrup looks clear. Cool.
- Preparing the Fruit. With citrus sorbets only the juice is used, though the flavour can be enhanced by adding the zest of the fruit too. However, the method is similar with any fruit – those which aren’t juiced can be pureed fresh and added to the sugar syrup in the same way.
Zest or grate the lime rind. Juice the limes and add to the cooled syrup. Cover and place in the freezer, preferably overnight. (Alternatively follow the manufacturer’s instructions if you have an ice cream machine or sorbetiere. Remove to freezer when finished.)
- Creating the texture of the sorbet. The texture of the sorbet all depends on how much the ice crystals are broken up. This can be done roughly to make a granita. A sorbet, however, is much smoother. Either fork it over two or three times while it is freezing, paying particular attention to the edges of the container where the sorbet freezes first or, better still, use a food processor. Break the frozen mixture into pieces and whiz in the food processor until smooth. This will affect the colour slightly, making it paler. Return to container in the freezer.
- Serving the sorbet. Test your sorbet. If it has been frozen for 24 hours or more it may need to be softened in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving. Use an ice-cream scoop to serve or else dip two tablespoons in cold water and scoop some sorbet onto one of them. Use the second spoon to shape and smooth the sorbet then let it fall gently on to the plate. If you are serving a lot of people scoop the sorbet well before serving and place the scoops on foil-lined trays in the freezer. Then it takes only a few minutes to serve. Serve in a cone, a glass, in a bowl or with fruit.
Lime or lemon sorbet is terrific topped with a shot of vodka or splash of champagne!
To Store: Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the sorbet and cover to prevent ice crystals forming.
To Revive: Revive a tired, old sorbet by re-whizzing it and folding in a stiffly beaten egg white.
Variations: Orange Sorbet – replace lime juice with orange juice and use only 180g sugar with 250mls water for the syrup.
Mixed Berry Sorbet
2 punnets mixed berries (or frozen berries)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
Roughly chop or mash berries and macerate in balsamic vinegar overnight. This marination is optional. Strain. Proceed as for the basic sorbet
Use 2/3 cup (150g) sugar and 2/3 cup (160 ml) water and 900g deseeded watermelon flesh.
Dissolve ½ cup (55g) caster sugar in ¼ cup (60ml) water to make a syrup. When cool blend with 2 large (500g) fresh mangoes and 1 teaspoon lemon juice and proceed.
You can use 2 1/2 cups of any fruit puree with 1 cup each of sugar and water. Peach, nectarine, strawberry or passionfruit are all delicious. Only the passionfruit would need sieving but be sure to add back some of the distinctive passionfruit seeds.