Juicing seems to be all the craze in Los Angeles. There are juice bars popping up everywhere. I checked a new one in the area last week and I was surprised at how expensive a bottle of juice was. I paid close to $10 for a 16oz jar of cold pressed juice. Ok, my fault that I didn’t ask how much before I ordered it. And yes, I get that it’s organic, preservative-free, and full of vitamins and nutrients–but $10?! It’s a good thing I don’t like juice. I can do fruit smoothies, but you know what’s better? Fruit sorbet!
Sorbet is ice cream’s far healthier cousin. Unlike ice cream bases that are cooked, sorbets are fresh and raw. It’s just like eating the real fruit, only frozen and more exciting. Based on the sweetness of the fruits you use, you can significantly reduce the amount of sugar you add to the fruit puree (sorbet base). In culinary school, we used a refractometer to measure the sugar content in our fruit puree. We were also taught the egg test in which you place a clean egg into the fruit puree and see how far the egg sinks into the liquid. It’s all very technical and scientific as sorbets need a certain amount of sugar to freeze perfectly. The amount of sugar determines the size of ice crystals that will form meaning whether your sorbet will be coarse or creamy.
The amount of sugar used in sorbet is very important. If you have too much sugar, your sorbet will never set up and freeze correctly. Too little sugar and you’ll end up with a block of frozen mess. There isn’t an exact recipe to making sorbet, as all fruits vary in sweetness. To make small batches of sorbet at home, you don’t need a fancy refractometer or need to understand the egg test. I just made my sorbet base according to taste and it turned out fine.
However, if you find yourself unable to sleep at night because you want to learn more about science behind food and cooking, I highly suggest reading Harold McGee’s On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. It was recommended reading in culinary school, although I think my roommate and I were the only ones who actually read the book cover to cover. It’s a thick book with small print, but jam-packed full of interesting information and everything you ever wanted to know about the science of food. For some, it may be sleeping reading material, but for me, I found it exciting.
Strawberry Blackberry Sorbet
- 1 pound (16 oz) strawberries, rinsed, hulled, sliced in half
- 1/2 pound (8 oz) blackberries, rinsed
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar, more if your berries are not sweet
- Rinse berries. Pat them dry using paper towels or toss in colander to remove excess water. Put berries in the bowl of food processor. Add lemon juice and sugar. Pulse fruits into a puree. Let puree chill in fridge until cold.
- Pour puree into ice cream maker and follow your unit's instructions. Once the sorbet has reached a soft serve consistency, transfer into an airtight container and let rest in freezer for at least 30 minutes before serving.
The Little Epicurean