These last weeks of summer are some of the best for the enjoyment of local produce. Every vegetable under the sun is out there, and there simply isn't a better time to enjoy fruit. Apples, peaches, pears, plums, and melons and crying out for love. Chef Jerry Pellegrino will tell you, one of the best things you can do to capture those fruity flavors is to learn how to make sorbets and granitas.
First of all, a sorbet is not quite the same thing as a sherbert. There is no milk, only fruit juice and sugar water, but you do use an ice cream maker. Sorbet is made from a mixture of water, sugar, fruit juice or fruit purée, and sometimes some other fun and exotic ingredients. Ideally, your recipe would have a ratio of 65% sugar to 35% water. Unless you’re going to take the time to do some measuring and calculating, you might want to just follow this simple recipe below.
The Simple Syrup – making this allow you to not have to cook the fruits or other ingredients to make sorbets.
2 cups (500ml) sugar
1 1/3 cups (300ml) water
Place the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves fully. Pour into a metal bowl set in an ice bath and stir occasionally until cold. Store the syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
For the Sorbet – mix the syrup with an equal volume of either fruit, fruit purée or fruit juice and, depending on the ripeness of the fruit, some lemon juice for balance. Pour into a metal bowl set in an ice bath and stir occasionally until cold. Transfer the cold mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instruction. Remove the sorbet from the machine and store in the freezer.
Spiced Apple Cider Sorbet
MAKES 1 ½ quarts
1 ½ cups fresh apple cider
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon whole cloves
5 whole cinnamon sticks
1 ½ cups unsweetened applesauce
¾ cup cranberry juice cocktail (make sure it's 100% juice)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Calvados or other brandy
Stir together apple cider, sugar, cloves and cinnamon sticks in saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove cloves and cinnamon sticks with a slotted spoon; discard.
Whisk in applesauce, cranberry and lemon juices and rum. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Freeze as directed in the instructions for your particular ice cream maker. (We find that we get the best texture when we freeze for a relatively short amount of time - about 15-20 minutes, or just until frozen. This seems to keep the texture silkier. As always, leave to harden in the freezer for at least four hours before serving.)
Granita - in Italian also Granita Siciliana is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings. Originally from Sicily, it is available all over Italy in somewhat different forms. It is made very simply in a shallow pan in the freezer.
Follow the instruction for making sorbet, but instead of making it in an ice cream maker, pour mixture into 13x9x2-inch nonstick metal baking pan. Freeze until icy around edges, about 25 minutes. Using fork, stir icy portions into middle of pan. Freeze until mixture is frozen, stirring edges into center every 20 to 30 minutes, about 1 ½ hours. Using fork, scrape granita into flaky crystals. Cover tightly and freeze.