Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Summer Sorbets


Aoife, Cambridge

The brief heatwave we had last week inspired me to experiment with sorbet making for the first time. I did have an ulterior motive. My parents were visiting and I wanted to produce an impressive desert to follow the feast I had planned for main course. "Selection of homemade sorbets" was the perfect end to an enormous meal on a roasting hot day. Lots of domestic goddess brownie points for Aoife.

I came up with the following combinations after a forage on the allotment and some excavation work in the fridge:

Lemon balm and lemon (pictured above)
Raspberry and blackcurrant leaf
Lavender
Cucumber and mint

All the recipes are below but first some lessons from my first foray into sorbet making:
  • The addition of a tablespoon of alcohol (vodka or gin) helps ensure a smooth, soft consistency. Don't add too much or it will never freeze.
  • I don't have space for an ice cream maker so I just froze the mixture in plastic containers (giving it a stir to break up the ice crystals after a couple of hours. Once it was completely frozen I whizzed it up using a handheld blender and refroze.
  • Sorbet mixes are full of sugar and are very sticky if you manage to spray it around the kitchen as I did while I was blending my cucumber sorbet. I'm still finding green sugar crusts on the inside of my kitchen drawers.
  • Chocolate peppermint is not pleasant in sorbets - use garden mint.


Raspberry and Blackcurrant Leaf Sorbet

A beautiful sorbet. I've discovered blackcurrant leaves are a great way to add an aromatic blackcurrant flavour when you don't have any actual blackcurrants. I served the leftover sorbet alongside some fresh raspberries for a simple but delicious desert.

Ingredients (Four small servings)

125g sugar
200mL water
Large handful of blackcurrant leaves
125g raspberries
1 tablespoon vodka
Heat the water and the sugar gently until the sugar dissolves, add the blackcurrant leaves and leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool and strain out the blackcurrant leaves. Blitz the raspberries with a blender and add to the sugar syrup. Strain it all through a fine sieve to remove the pips. Add the vodka and freeze.


Lavender Sorbet

This sorbet was pronounced very cleansing and refreshing by all who tried and was probably our favourite (just ahead of the lemon balm and lemon sorbet).

Ingredients (Four small servings)
125g sugar
200mL water
1/2 tablespoon lavender (you could use dried food grade lavender I just used fresh flowers from my balcony)
1 tablespoon vodka
Heat the water and the sugar gently until the sugar dissolves, add the lavender flowers and leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool and strain out the lavender (I put about a third of the flowers back in for texture). Add the vodka and freeze.
 

Lemon Balm and Lemon Sorbet

Who doesn't like lemon sorbet? The addition of the lemon balm adds an aromatic note. I will be repeating this recipe with lemon verbena which should also work very well.

Ingredients (Four small servings)
125g sugar
200mL water
1 large bunch of lemon balm 
Zest and juice of a lemon
1 tablespoon vodka 
Heat the water and the sugar gently until the sugar dissolves, add the lemon balm leaves and leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool and strain out the leaves. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and the vodka. Freeze.


Cucumber and Mint Sorbet

I used this recipe for my cucumber and mint sorbet. It looked beautiful but was probably our least favourite flavour on the night. This was due to me using chocolate peppermint (it is taking over my balcony and I was desperate to find a use for it) rather than garden mint. I will definitely be repeating this one with the correct variety of mint and maybe a squeeze of lime to jazz it up.

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