When you have a glut of fresh summer fruit, sorbets are the answer. You don't need a recipe — just a basic template to follow and a little creativity. Strawberry-Peach Sorbet? Mint-Infused Watermelon Sorbet? Raspberry Rosé Sorbet? Yes, let's make all of these this summer. Let me show you just how easy homemade sorbets can be with this step-by-step recipe.
Fruit + Sugar = Sorbet
Sorbets are a simple combination of fresh fruit or fruit juice with sugar. That's it! About two pounds of fruit will be perfect for making a quart of sorbet — that comes out to about five cups of chopped fruit. A little more or less is fine; this is a basic formula, not an exact science. Puree this fruit and add a little sugar, and that's your sorbet base.
The easiest way to add sugar is to make a simple sugar syrup. Simmer equal parts sugar and water until the sugar is dissolved and let it cool. Most summer fruits are sweet enough on their own that we barely need to add any sugar. Remember, though, that freezing dulls sweet flavors, so we want the base to taste slightly too sweet before we freeze.
Making Perfectly Smooth Sorbet
Sugar plays a larger roll in the sorbet than just sweetening the fruit juice. It's also crucial for the sorbet's texture. Too little sugar and the sorbet becomes icy, too much and it can be slushy — hit the sugar level just right and the sorbet will taste creamy and melt evenly across your tongue.
There's a very simple way to tell if your sugar levels are right: Float a large egg in the sorbet base. Wash and dry a large egg, and then gently lower it into the pureed and strained sorbet base. If you see a nickel-sized round of egg slowing above the surface, you're golden. If the circle is smaller or if the egg sinks below the surface, you need to add more sugar. If the circle is larger, you need to add a little water or fruit juice. Take a look at the pictures in the gallery below to get a better visual idea for what I mean here.
Sorbet, as You Like It
That's it! Sorbet really is as simple as that. You can celebrate a single fruit in all its glory or use any combination of fruit your little heart desires. Get creative and infuse the simple syrup with herbs and spices, or make it a grown-up sorbet with a little liquor stirred into the base. You can even turn a sorbet into sherbet with a splash of cream or coconut milk.
Do you love making sorbet at home? What are your favorite flavors?
To make sorbet, you'll need about 2 pounds of fruit, a cup of sugar, water, and lemon juice. At least 24 hours before making the sorbet, place the ice cream base in the freezer to freeze.
How To Make Sorbet with Any Fruit
Makes 8 servings (1 quart)
What You Need
2 pounds fresh fruit (4 to 5 cups after prepping and slicing)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 to 4 tablespoons lemon juice
Chef's knife or paring knife
Measuring cups and spoons
Blender, food processor, or immersion blender
1 large egg in its shell
Ice cream machine
Pint containers or other container, for freezing the ice cream
Freeze the ice cream base: At least 24 hours before making the sorbet, place the ice cream base in the freezer to freeze.
Prepare the fruit: Wash and dry the fruit. Cut away or remove any rinds, peels, pits, seeds, stems, or other non-edible parts of the fruit. Slice the fruit into bite-sized pieces. You should have around 5 cups of chopped fruit, though a little more or less is fine.
Prepare the simple syrup: Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring gently once or twice. Simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved in the water, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Combine the fruit and 1/2 cup of simple syrup: Combine the fruit and 1/2 cup of the cooled simple syrup in a blender, the bowl of a food processor, or in a mixing bowl (if using an immersion blender). Reserve the remaining syrup.
Blend until the fruit is completely liquified: Blend the fruit and the syrup until the fruit is completely liquified and no more chunks of fruit remain.
Strain the juice: If your fruit contains small seeds (like strawberries or raspberries) or is very fibrous (like mangos or pineapples), strain it through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the solids. Gently stir with a spoon as you strain, but don't force the solids through the strainer.
Test the sugar levels with the egg-float test: Wash and dry a large egg. Gently lower the egg, still in its shell, into the sorbet base. You're looking for just a small nickel-sized (roughly 1-inch) round of shell to show above the liquid — this indicates that you have the perfect balance of juice and sugar. If you see less shell (dime-sized), stir in a little more sugar syrup; check with an egg and continue adjusting as needed. If you see more shell (quarter-sized), stir in a little water or fruit juice; check with an egg and continue adjusting as needed. (Store leftover simple sugar in the fridge.)
Stir in the lemon juice: Stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Taste the sorbet base and add more lemon juice if it tastes too sweet and bland.
Chill the base: Cover the sorbet base and refrigerate until very cold, at least 1 hour or overnight.
Churn the sorbet: Pour the chilled base into the ice cream machine and churn. Continue churning until the sorbet is the consistency of a thick smoothie. This typically takes between 10 and 15 minutes in most machines.
Freeze the sorbet: Transfer the sorbet to pint containers or other freezable containers and cover. Freeze for at least 4 hours, until the sorbet has hardened. Homemade sorbet will generally keep for about a month in the freezer before starting to become overly icy.
Serve the sorbet: Let the sorbet soften for a few minutes on the counter, then scoop into serving bowls.
Infused Simple Syrup: After simmering the simple syrup to dissolve the sugar, add any of the following to infuse the syrup while it cools — fresh herbs, cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean, cardamom, fresh lemongrass, cacao nibs, fresh ginger, lavender, or any other aromatic ingredient.
Add Liquor or Other Alcohol: Add 1 to 3 tablespoons of wine, beer, or other liquor along with the simple syrup when blending the fruit.
Add Creaminess (i.e., Sherbet!): Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of any of the following along with the simple syrup when blending the fruit: coconut milk, heavy cream, evaporated milk, yogurt, buttermilk, crème fraîche, or any other favorite creamy ingredient.
Using Corn Syrup: You can replace 1/4 cup of the sugar with 1/4 cup of corn syrup to make a smoother, less icy sorbet
Using Other Sugars: You can replace all or some of the sugar in this recipe with another sweetener like honey, coconut sugar, turbinado sugar, or brown sugar. Avoid artificial sweeteners — the sorbet will be too icy if you use them.
Leftover Sugar Syrup: Leftover sugar syrup will keep refrigerated for about a month. Use it for other sorbets or for making cocktails!
(Image credits: Emma Christensen)