Sorbet freezes summer's freshness

September 20, 1998|By Annette Gooch | Annette Gooch,Universal Press Syndicate

No matter how many times "natural" appears on the carton or how pricey the product, commercially manufactured frozen desserts can't compete with homemade - especially homemade fresh fruit sorbets.

Sorbetlike concoctions of flavored ice and snow were first introduced to Europe from China, India and Arabia as early as the Crusades. Imported to the American Colonies just before the War of Independence, sorbet has never fallen far out of fashion.

It's now enjoying a revival, thanks to the clamor for healthful, fat-free treats and design innovations in ice cream machines that don't rely on rock salt and ice.

It's possible to make a sorbet of sorts from nothing more than unsweetened fruit, although adding simple sugar syrup both sweetens and refines the texture of the finished product. Lemon juice further enhances the flavor and helps reduce oxidation, preserving the fresh color of the fruit.

Taste-testing the pureed fruit before freezing it is the most reliable way to gauge whether additional sweetening or lemon juice, if any, is needed. The flavor of the fruit - not cloying sweetness - predominates in a good sorbet, and the texture is smooth and light. Too much sugar makes a sorbet that won't hold its shape; too little makes it unpleasantly icy.

The following recipe can be made with either a traditional salt-and-ice-bucket freezer or a pre-chilled canister freezer, which requires 8 hours' chilling in the freezer before use.

For a high-spirited sorbet, try adding a tablespoon or two of white creme de menthe to strawberry sorbet, or rum or Riesling )) wine to peach or nectarine sorbet.

Cole Publishing Group

Fresh Fruit Sorbet

Makes about 4 cups

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup water

3 cups freshly pureed fruit, chilled

1 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan; stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold.

Stir 3/4 of the cold sugar syrup into the cold fruit puree. Add lemon juice, using larger amount with peaches or nectarines to help preserve fresh color. Taste and add more syrup or lemon juice, if necessary. (Very ripe, sweet fruit will not need all of the syrup.) Cover and chill fruit while setting up the ice cream freezer.

Freeze mixture in ice cream freezer according to manufacturer's instructions. Most sorbets are ready after 10 to 20 minutes of churn-freezing.

Pub Date: 9/20/98

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