Recipe Review

I Tried This Retro Hack for 1-Ingredient Sorbet and Couldn’t Believe the Results

updated Jul 13, 2020
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Credit: Sheela Prakash

My solution to getting through these long, sweltering summer days? Use the heat as an excuse to subsist solely on ice cream. And while I’ve never felt the need to stray from my beloved pints of Chunky Monkey, I recently read about a homemade sorbet in The New York Times that seemed too easy not to try. The retro recipe — it dates back to 1996 — requires nothing more than a can of fruit, a freezer, and a food processor. Here’s what I thought when I gave it a go.

Get the recipe: 1-Ingredient Sorbet

Credit: Sheela Prakash

How to Make 1-Ingredient Sorbet

What makes this recipe so intriguing is that it relies on just one ingredient: canned fruit. Because the fruit is already well-sweetened (most canned fruit is swimming in syrup), the idea is that nothing needs to be added to it to turn it into sorbet.

I picked up a can of peaches packed in heavy syrup and, when I got home, immediately stuck the entire can in the freezer. The recipe says to freeze the can for at least 12 hours, and it was indeed frozen solid at this point, but I left it in there a little longer (I wasn’t quite up for eating sorbet for breakfast).

When I was ready to go, I pulled out my food processor and filled a bowl with hot water (I didn’t bother to boil water; I just filled the bowl with hot water from the tap). I removed the can from the freezer and dipped the can into the bowl of water, like the recipe states, and then opened the top lid with a can opener. I tried to dump the frozen contents into the food processor but it wouldn’t budge, so I dipped the can into the water a few more times, being careful not to get water inside the open can, until the contents fell out easily into the food processor.

Credit: Sheela Prakash

The recipe states to cut the block of frozen fruit into 1-inch pieces, but I nervous to take a knife to the icy cylinder for fear it would roll around in the process. Instead, I grabbed kitchen shears and cut the block into irregular pieces right in the food processor. Then I blended the chunks, stopping a few times to scrape the sides of the bowl, until they were completely smooth.

What resulted was indeed sorbet! It was too soft to be scooped, so I transferred it to a freezer-safe container and froze it for a couple of hours until it was more firm and scoop-able. I was worried the mixture would end up become too firm and frozen, but the syrup actually helped prevent the fruit from getting icy.

Credit: Sheela Prakash

My Honest Review of 1-Ingredient Sorbet

Truthfully, I was dubious about using canned fruit to make sorbet. With so much in-season fruit available right now, I didn’t really see the point. However, this hack totally works! The sorbet was soft, cold, and refreshing. It was sweet, yes, but not tooth-achingly so, which I worried would be the case because of the heavy syrup. Freezing things has a way of making them taste less sweet, so the sorbet ended up tasting just right. It’s important to state the obvious, though: It tastes like canned fruit rather than fresh. I actually ended up finding comfort in that flavor — something I haven’t tasted since I was a kid.

Credit: Sheela Prakash

A Few Tips for Making 1-Ingredient Sorbet at Home

You hardly need a recipe to make this fast-and-easy sorbet, but here are a few tips that will help you when you head into the kitchen.

  1. Use canned fruit in heavy syrup. Be sure to pick up a can of fruit packed in heavy syrup, not light syrup or fruit juice. Peaches and apricots are the most common, but you can also use pineapples, cherries, or pears.
  2. Freeze the can for 12 hours or longer. Freeze the can for a minimum of 12 hours to ensure it’s completely solid. From there, you can leave the can in the freezer for days or weeks if you like.
  3. Cut the block of frozen fruit with kitchen shears. The recipe says to cut the block into pieces with a knife, but I found it easier (and safer!) to cut the cylinder into chunks with kitchen shears after you’ve dumped it into your food processor.
  4. Freeze the sorbet before eating. While you can eat the sorbet immediately after it’s been processed, it will be pretty soft. Instead, I’d recommend transferring the sorbet to a freezer-safe container and freezing it for an hour or two until it firms up and is scoop-able.

Your turn: Have you tried making 1-Ingredient sorbet at home? Let us know in the comments!