Published July 1, 2012. From Cook’s Illustrated.
MAKES 1 QUART
Super-chilling part of the sorbet base before transferring it to the ice cream machine will keep ice crystals to a minimum. If using a canister-style ice cream machine, be sure to freeze the empty canister for at least 24 hours and preferably 48 hours before churning. For self-refrigerating machines, prechill the canister by running the machine for five to 10 minutes before pouring in the sorbet mixture. Allow the sorbet to sit at room temperature for five minutes to soften before serving. Fresh or frozen berries may be used. If using frozen berries, thaw them before proceeding. Make certain that you use Sure-Jell engineered for low- or no-sugar recipes (packaged in a pink box) and not regular Sure-Jell (in a yellow box).
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon Sure-Jell for Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 pounds (4 cups) raspberries
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1. Combine water, Sure-Jell, and salt in medium saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until Sure-Jell is fully dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and allow mixture to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
- 2. Process raspberries, sugar, corn syrup, and water mixture in blender or food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer 1 cup mixture to small bowl and place remaining mixture in large bowl. Cover both bowls with plastic wrap. Place large bowl in refrigerator and small bowl in freezer and cool completely, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. (Small bowl of base will freeze solid.)
- 3. Remove mixtures from refrigerator and freezer. Scrape frozen base from small bowl into large bowl of base. Stir occasionally until frozen base has fully dissolved. Transfer mixture to ice cream machine and churn until mixture has consistency of thick milkshake and color lightens, 15 to 25 minutes.
- 4. Transfer sorbet to airtight container, pressing firmly to remove any air pockets, and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours. Serve. (Sorbet can be frozen for up to 5 days.)
PROBLEM 1: TOO HARD TO SCOOP
THE TESTS: VARY WATER AND SUGAR AMOUNTS
For sorbet that’s soft enough to scoop, some water should freeze but some should remain liquid and “free” to flow between the ice crystals, providing the sensation of creaminess. Added water and sugar are critical. Water ensures that there’s enough of it in the mix to remain free. Sugar aids the process by getting in the way of the water freezing.
- Rock Solid: Straight fruit puree with no added water or sugar freezes into an impenetrable mass.
- Getting Softer: A half cup of water plus ¾ cup of sugar creates some free water, and the sorbet starts to soften.
- Just right: One cup of water and nearly 1 cup of sugar and corn syrup produce a creamy, scoopable texture.
PROBLEM 2: ICY, GRAINY TEXTURE
THE TEST: SPEED UP FREEZE TIME
Big ice crystals turn sorbet grainy. Freezing the base as fast as possible is the antidote. First, it doesn’t give the base time to form large crystals. Second, once small “seed” crystals get started, they trigger a chain reaction, continuously turning more unfrozen water into equally tiny crystals.
- Traditional Slow Freeze: When the whole base is transferred directly to the ice cream maker, it freezes slowly, giving large, grainy ice crystals time to form.
- Fast Freeze: Freezing 1 cup of the base allows it to freeze rapidly, forming small “seed” crystals. When it is combined with the refrigerated remainder, it initiates a chain reaction, causing more small crystals to form immediately.
PROBLEM 3: CRUMBLY TEXTURE, DULL TASTE
THE TESTS: CALIBRATE CHURN TIMES
Too much churning has a negative effect on the final texture of sorbet: Because the dessert has no fat or protein to stabilize the air bubbles incorporated during churning, longer churning times produce sorbets that are loose, crumbly, and dull-tasting.
- 40 Minutes: Overchurned sorbet looks promisingly thick but freezes up crumbly and dull-tasting.
- 30 Minutes: As the churning time is reduced, less air is incorporated, improving the texture of the final product.
- 20 Minutes: Churning just long enough for the mixture to reach the consistency of a thick milkshake produces dense, flavorful sorbet.
PROBLEM 4: RAPID MELTING
THE TESTS: TRY STABILIZERS
Sorbet is prone to rapid melting once it is scooped and served. Commercial manufacturers stave off melting by incorporating ingredients like guar gum and locust bean gum that trap some of the free water so it won’t readily leak out at room temperature. Instead of those additives, we tried gelatin and pectin.
- No stabilizer: Once out of the freezer, stabilizer-free sorbet quickly melts into a watery mess.
- 1 tsp Gelatin: While it greatly improves stability, gelatin creates a sorbet that is strangely rubbery.
- 1 tsp Pectin: Pectin, which is also found naturally in berries, slows melting and produces a likable texture.