If you're looking for something refreshingly cold on a hot day, but don't want something as rich as ice cream, a sorbet is a pleasing choice. Sorbet is also an ideal 'palate cleanser' between courses of a heavy meal. Here are some recipes, from the classic lemon variety to a spicy savoury option, so you can make your own sorbet.
- 8 oz (250g) granulated sugar
- ¾ pint (450ml) water
- ½ pint (300ml) lemon juice
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 egg white (optional)
Warning!! Some shop-bought lemon juice can be very sour! You may prefer to use a mixture of orange and lemon juice if it is too sour for your personal taste.
Put the sugar, water and lemon zest in a saucepan.
Set it over a gentle heat and stir frequently until the sugar has melted.
Bring it to the boil and simmer it for 5 to 8 minutes or until you have a light syrup (For those of you with a sugar thermometer this is 230°F or 110°C.)
Remove the pan from the heat and leave until it is cold.
Stir in the lemon juice and put the mixture into an ice-cream maker to churn. If you don't have an ice-cream maker, put it into a freezable container and pop it in the freezer. After half an hour, take it out and stir it thoroughly with a fork (this prevents large ice crystals from forming) and then put it back in the freezer.
When the sorbet starts to freeze or thicken, whisk in the egg white. If you are vegan, or unable to eat raw egg, this is optional - it is merely to keep the sorbet light and not just a block of frozen ice, but churning/stirring will help with that.
Return it to the ice-cream machine for further churning, or put it in the freezer and stir it every half an hour.
Once it is frozen all the way through1, store it in the freezer until you are ready to eat it.
Sorbets, being water-based, melt quickly, so only take them out just before serving. If you have space in the freezer, you can scoop them into balls or quenelles in advance and leave them on a tray in the freezer ready to pop on the plates.
For the keen drinkers amongst you, you may like to add some vodka to the sorbet. Boil the juice and a little less water with the sugar, then and add the vodka afterwards. Don't drive after eating this version though!
For orange sorbet, simply use the recipe for lemon sorbet, but substitute orange juice for the lemon juice and add the zest and juice of two oranges instead of one lemon.
At Christmas you could serve an orange and Cointreau sorbet with the Christmas pudding (but you should still include the traditional high-calorie brandy butter or other accompaniment the family are used to).
Tomato and Vodka Sorbet
- 1 pint (600ml) tomato juice
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1 dessertspoon of sugar
- 4 fl ozs (125ml) vodka
- salt, pepper, Worcester sauce, Tabasco sauce (to taste)
- 2 egg whites (optional)
Mix together all the ingredients except the egg whites, tasting carefully to achieve the seasoning that you like. (Don't get too carried away with the tasting though, or you'll have no mixture left!) Bear in mind that freezing dulls the taste. Ice cream, for example, should taste slightly too sweet before it is frozen, so this mixture might need to be sweeter or spicier than you would have it if you were just drinking it.
Churn it in an ice-cream maker, or put it in the freezer and stir it regularly. Whisk in the egg white when it starts to thicken, if applicable.
The finished sorbet should be light and fluffy. You can eat it on its own, or you may like to serve it in scoops on a bed of lettuce with a few prawns.