Bet you didn't know that you can make dreamy sorbet without once looking at a recipe. All you need is fresh fruit, sugar, water — and an egg. That's right, an egg. Don't worry, that egg isn't actually going into the sorbet. We need it for another purpose: we need to see if it floats.
The Egg-Float Test for Sorbet
- Egg sinks below the surface: Add more sugar
- Egg floats above the surface: Add more water
- Egg floats in the middle (1-inch, nickel-sized patch of shell showing above the surface): Sorbet perfection
A sorbet is a simple mix of pureed fruit, sugar, and a bit of water. Strain that mix, churn it, and freeze it, and you have delicious no-fuss sorbet. One catch: you need to make sure you have the right amount of sugar in the sorbet base so that when it freezes, you get smooth sorbet without annoying, chunky ice crystals.
The perfect tool for testing the sugar levels in sorbet? An ordinary, large-sized egg.
Once you've strained your base and are ready to churn it, gently lower a large egg into the liquid. If it sinks or if you can barely see any shell above the surface, you need to add more sugar. If it floats above the liquid with a large patch of liquid, you need to add more water. If it floats in the middle, with just a 1-inch, nickle-sized patch of shell showing above the liquid, then you're sorbet is just right.
This all has to do with the density of the liquid. Sugar increases the density of liquids — allowing an egg to float — while water decreases density, which makes the egg sink lower. For whatever reason, when an egg floats just-so in the sorbet base, we know that the sugar levels are perfect for making sorbet.
Check out the gallery above for what this egg-float test looks like at each stage. Don't forget to strain the sorbet base before you start (otherwise the fibers and other fruit solids throw off the density reading) and give your egg a quick wash and dry, so it's clean when you float it in the sorbet.