What is sorbet? Sorbet is a dessert made from fresh fruit (ideally) and it can also be made from frozen fruit as well. Much of what you buy in the store is really just water and sugar with a little flavor added. Not much better than those ice pops we used to eat as kids except maybe less dyes.
With store bought sorbets costing anywhere from $4. to 7. a pint, growing your own backyard berries is not only a fabulously frugal option, but a healthier one, because homemade sorbet is a "live" food.
Sorbet recipes can be modified for berries of all kinds as well as passionfruits, grapes, lemons, limes, oranges, and other fruit juices. Fruits like bananas and mangoes can be pureed and added to fruit juice for flavor and as a thickening agent, just keep it balanced as they add a lot of fiber. Home-made sorbet is also a delicious way to use up large quantities of fruit you would otherwise be drying or freezing. You can also freeze fruit to later make into a sorbet.
If you've grown the fruit yourself, picked it at the peak of ripeness, and made your sorbet shortly thereafter, you can be assured that the living enzymes and vitamins in the fruit, are also at their peak.
Plus, with home made sorbet recipes you're not adding artificial flavors, colors, guar gums, chemicals and such things you can't pronounce. It's just fruit, juice, water, and sugar ~ if needed.
You may not have the time, the room, or the desire to grow the fruit yourself, in which case you can buy local fruit at farmers markets, fruit stands, or pick your own places. Fresh always tastes better and local/in season is usually better priced too.
Strawberries are one example of something we don't grow, but buy in season and freeze. Because they're grown here, they're as little as $2. a quart. Then, to make sorbet, partially defrost berries and throw into your blender etc. When using store bought frozen fruit to make sorbets, you may have add more sweetener to the mix since you had no control over the ripeness of the fruit before it was frozen. We also like to add a little cream or milk, again, make it to your taste.
Homemade sorbet recipes are all very similar in that your ice cream maker holds a certain volume and you need to leave room for expansion. When the machine churns, air is incorporated into the the liquid and it takes a good 20 to 30 minutes, which why electric ice cream makers are a lot easier to use.
There are two types of ice cream / sorbet freezers on the market. The more frugal type ($60.) has a hollow walled container filled with a freezing agent that must be chilled 24 hours prior to making sorbet. The fabulous models ($300.) don't need to be pre-frozen, all you do is plug them in. We are on our second Cuisinart (basic model) in 9 years, but we could have just bought the replacement bowl when got damaged instead of buying a whole new unit.
Keep in mind for these lower end models you also need enough freezer space to accomodate a 1.5 to 2 quart container, and then immediately freeze your sorbet in an airtight container once it's ready.
This raspberry sorbet recipe works for many types of backyard berries such as: raspberry, blackberry, marion berry, loganberry, or any combination thereof.
Approximately 4 cups of ripe berries. Less is OK too, you'll just get a smaller batch. A little more is OK, but be sure not to over fill your ice cream maker. It needs to have at least 1/3 volume free as air bubbles will incorporate into the fluid and you don't want to have a gooey mess on your hands. It's better to put the extra raspberry sorbet recipe in the fridge and do a second batch as soon as the first is done.
You will need a large stainless steel mesh colander, wooden or plastic spoon, and an electric ice cream maker. We have a Cuisenart 1.5 quart model. If you have a large family, get the 2 quart. FYI: they're seasonal so if you can't find one in the store buy it online. It's quicker if you have a food processor or blender but it's not necessary.
Approximately one cup of sugar ~ or equivalent sweetener of your choice. I say this because it really depends on the amount and sweetness of your backyard berries. You can experiment with using sucralose, stevia, or other sugar alternative. Although I've never tried a substitute for sugar in sorbet, it ain't rocket science, so experiment on a small batch and sweeten to taste.
***Optional but recommended*** 1/4 cup of half and half, cream, or 1/2 cup of vanilla ice cream. I know it sounds weird adding ice cream to sorbet but since we buy the ginormous containers of premium ice cream from Costco, I'm always looking for ways to use it. This came to me one day when we were out of half and half and since ice cream has guar gum in it, it gives the sorbet a creamier texture. FYI: In a pinch, a spoon of vanilla ice cream also works great in coffee, oatmeal, or to cool down cream based soups.
Separate seeds from the juice one of two ways: Use a metal sieve and a wooden spoon and smush the suckers (incredibly messy with black berries spitting juice everywhere) or you can lightly plusle them in a blender or food processor to break the skins apart. The latter is the better, especially if you add a half cup water to thin the berry pulp before straining, as it makes the juice go though the sieve much easier. Discard the seeds.
Note: If making Strawberry Sorbet, you don't need to strain out the seeds, but you will need use a blender or food processor to emulsify the strawberries. You don't need to add any water but adding the juice of one or two limes will enhance the flavor.
Here's a Passionfruit sorbet recipe Eric came up with. It's made from our home grown passionfruits, Frederick is the plant variety which are sold in nurseries, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. In the proper growing zones, such as southern California coastal area, it grows very well and produces gorgeous fruits that are as big as large lemons and heavy with pulp. Each fruit costs about $3. in the store, (if you can even find them) while one vine costs only $20. - $30. and can produce 50 or more fruit per season under the right conditions. (we're in zones 10-11)
You may need to add other juices depending on how many passionfruit you have. If you only have a few, you can use them to lend a tropical flavor to other fruit juices.
Large sorbet recipes would require 1/2 cup strained juice pulp per batch with 1.5 cups of water added and the juice of 1 large lime for added zing. (use as much as 20 ripe passionfruit which are purple and starting to wrinkle, washed and cut in half with pulp and seeds scooped into a strainer.)
Add to this 1.5 cups of sugar and mix well, then add to your ice cream mold. Very simple indeed! Keep in mind that passionfruit are veryconcentrateed and tart and on their own. They don't have much sugar which is why you need to add sugar and water or other fruit juice to make up the volume of 2 cups.
It's the straining of the pulp and seeds that takes time. Use a stainless sieve/strainer and wooden spoon and work the pulp till you extract as much as you can.
If you only have a few passionfruit, add it to another juice like pineapple, orange, lemonr, grape, etc. Sweeten to taste as many fruit juices already have a lot of sugar and you may not need to add any sugar. Just leave 1/4 to 1/3 room in ice cream maker for expansion as it freezes and air incorporates.
Again, a little cream or half and half ( 1-2 ounces) creates a more creamy texture while no dairy makes it icier.
We hope you enjoy these sorbet recipes. See the links below more back yard projects like growing berries, container gardens, etc.