Scoop me up the summer

So far I’ve given you three great ideas for what to do with all this summer fruit: make booze with it, freeze it or dry it for later.

Another of my favorite things to make with summer fruit are sorbets. For this you will need an ice cream maker, which can range from the inexpensive to the obscene. I use an attachment for my mixer and have also used an inexpensive counter top ice cream maker*. All you need to make sorbet are four simple things: fruit, sugar, lemon juice and a ridiculously cold ice cream maker.

I’ve been making sorbets and ice creams for about four or five years now and although I am no master at the latter, I am pretty good with the former. Most recipes will instruct you to make a simple syrup to add to mashed fruit, then place into the ice cream maker, where you then follows it’s individual instructions. But I have found that the most effective way to make sorbets – especially with soft fruits such as raspberries and strawberries – is to avoid making the syrup and cook the mashed berries in a covered pot at a low temperature. Heat them until they start to become fragrant, deepen in colour and release their own juices. This juice is all the liquid you need; adding extra water – in the form of the syrup – can dilute the flavour as well as increase your chances of having a more granular sorbet, more on that later.

Once the fruit has cooked sufficiently, take it off the heat and mash the fruit for a chunkier texture or puree with an immersion blender for a smooth texture. Add sugar to the mixture, a tablespoon at a time. This allows the sugar to be incorporated more evenly and allows you to taste for sweetness. Keep on adding sugar until you think it’s just sweet enough. Then add one more tablespoon for good measure – once frozen, the sweetness will be less prominent. Then add lemon juice, a teaspoon at a time, just enough to enhance the flavour of the berries. It should taste “brighter”. Chill the mixture overnight in your fridge. This step is important as you want the fruit mixture to be as cold as possible before putting it into your ice cream maker.

Speaking of which, if you are using an ice cream maker that has a segment or base that is frozen beforehand, make sure it has been frozen for at least fourty eight hours and placed in the coldest part of your freezer. A deep freezer is preferable for storing it. Also, if it’s hot in your kitchen, be aware that this may affect the freezing of your sorbet. Keep a fan on the frozen base if necessary.

These steps are necessary to prevent the formation of big ice crystals. A really good sorbet will have a minimum amount of ice crystals and those crystals will be very small, almost unnoticeable on the tongue. This is what makes it so pleasant to eat. If your ice cream maker or your mixture aren’t nice and cold, you will get large ice crystals and your sorbet will have a more granular texture. If this happens, tell your guests it’s a granité.

Place the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the instructions. You’ll know it’s ready when the sorbet starts to take shape, as the mixture starts to stick together and come away from the sides.

Take the sorbet mix out of the ice cream maker and freeze for another hour or two to set properly. The sorbet should last about a week, if you can keep yourself from eating it for that long.

*Note: The popularity of ice cream maker balls may be deceivingly fun, but the texture of the product made in these makers is questionable.

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