Saturday 15 September 2012

Making Sorbet Without a Machine

   I love sorbet. I do. I love it more than ice cream. It's so much more refreshing, so fruity, so creamy - I love it. And up until two days ago, it never occurred to me to try and make it.
   After a quick search, it became evident that I needed an ice cream maker to make the stuff. Well, I don't have one, and probably never will. A candy floss machine is higher on the list, and at the top is a basic blender. I don't want to have to get on the bus for a smoothie.
  But after a few minutes more on another search, I found it was possible to make sorbet and ice cream without a machine - the only difference is apparently texture.

   Well, I had a look at some of the recipes, and they all called for the same things, so I figured that whichever recipe I picked, it would go right.
   Except, I have a habit. Seeg came downstairs while I was in the midst of making the sorbet, and he said he didn't have much confidence. I'd have been upset at this if what he had said next wasn't true. "You have a habit of 'following the recipe', but leaving out one or two things because you think it won't make a difference if it's there or not, or you'll do things differently because you think you know best." Guilty on all counts.
   And that's also exactly what I did this time.
   Looking at what the recipes called for, and my limited knowledge of food properties, I figured there was a chance that, once "set", it would end up as just frozen fruit, and would thaw to slush. So I decided to add cream.

   This was a risky move for me, because as Seeg implied, it would go wrong if I messed around with it. And it almost always did.
   Except this time. Yes, for once, my uneducated guess worked to my benefit. The sorbet did not set frozen, and neither did it thaw to slush. Instead it took on a moussey texture while it was setting, and the following morning it had become firm, and after putting it in the fridge for 5 minutes, it was of serving consistency, and was creamy and delicious.

1 1/2 - 2 cups fruit (thawed from frozen, freshly picked, or store-bought punnet)
2 cups water
1 - 1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup double cream


   Heat the water and sugar in a pan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. This will form a thin syrup. I added a little bit of golden syrup to mine, but I don't think it made a difference. Once it's dissolved, leave it to cool. I'm very impatient, especially when trying new things, so I put the pan in the freezer for about 10 minutes or so. I don't know how long it was, but when I took it out it was about room temperature. It was fine both times I've made this sorbet.

   While the syrup is cooling, using a food processer, mix the fruit into a fine puree. This won't necessarily take long. I think it took about 1 minute for me.

   Once the fruit is puree-ified, leave it to one side and whisk the double cream. I used an electric mixer. I've mixed double cream by hand enough to last me a life time now. It doesn't need to be completely thick and whipped, to be honest I don't really know that it needs to be whipped at all, but I wasn't comfortable pouring unmixed double cream into the mixture. I felt it would defeat the object of why I put it in in the first place. So mix it about half way between unwhipped, and whipped (whipped meaning forming peaks). If you go too far, I really don't think it'll matter. I mixed it more the second time around than the first and the outcome was the same.

   By now, the syrup should be ready, if you put it in the freezer. If you were patient, you can leave and do other things, but don't let it freeze.
   Once you've got your syrup cooled, add the fruit puree, then pour it through a mesh sieve into another bowl. The sieve will remove all the seeds and anything else. Some seeds may well get through, but it's no big problem if they do. Using the back of a spoon, press through the sieve to squeeze out the remaining juice, then discard the sieve's contents.

   Using the whisk again, combine the syrupy fruit with the cream. It will start to pale in colour. If you mixed the cream too far, it will just take longer to mix the cream with the fruit. Once the cream is successfully blended with the fruit, and it's all one, lumpless colour, transfer it to the container you're going to freeze it in.

   Put it in the freezer, and for the first 2 hours, be sure to mix it briefly ever 30 minutes to prevent crystallisation - I don't know if this will happen because the cream seemed to remove any trace of that happening for me, but I mixed it anyway. After the first hour, you might see it start to take on a moussey texture on the surface. If you mix it when this has happened, then the moussey skin will be made more obvious, but it will disappear with a little more mixing.
   After the first 2 hours, leave it alone and it will freeze nicely.

   Let it thaw for 5 minutes in the fridge before serving. It'll be easier to serve up this way, and easier to eat.

   I'm dead proud of how this has turned out. I didn't expect it to go well, but I'm so pleased with it, and I'm surprised how well the picture came out too. I'm happy with that, and all! :D


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