Monday, January 18, 2010

Sore Bays

I’ve been thinking a lot about sorbets, sorbets and non-traditional ingredients. In this post, I’ve done three. 2 were a success, one was a sad, perfumey mess. Rosewater is a harsh mistress my friends; tread lightly along that path. So January is sorbet month at the SnookRoussel Ranch. I’ve really enjoyed playing with it because you can experiment to your heart’s content. And if there’s a misstep, it doesn’t feel like such a big deal. My first stumbling block I was faced with was my lack of ice cream maker. You would think that you could just stick it in the freezer and presto, frozen right? Well, yes, it’s frozen, but you could also kill a man with it. The goal is something softer that you can then turn into an edible treat. The solution? Vodka. 2 tsps of vodka in a pan of sorbet prevents it freezing to a diamond-like consistency. It stays a little soft and you can easily shave it with a spoon. I WOULD like to know if there was an alternative to vodka, or spirits of any kind. While MY veins run with pure wine, I can understand if someone wouldn’t want to feed their child a spiked sorbet, even if it is only 2 tsp for the whole thing. Does anyone know of anything else one could use in the absence of an ice cream maker?

Well anyways, the three flavours of sorbet that I made were:
1) Grapefruit Basil
2) Pear Vanilla Rosemary
3) Blooming Tea and Rosewater (fail)

The beginning of all sweet sorbets should be a simple syrup. The recipe for that is simple, as the name suggests. Combine a 1:1 ratio of water to granulated sugar, and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup is clear. Let it cool.

For the grapefruit basil sorbet, I used 2 cups of simple syrup, 2 cups of fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice, and some nice wide strips of grapefruit zest. I heated it until it was boiling just a little bit and then shut off the heat and threw a handful of basil leaves in there to steep. About a 1/4 of a cup, maybe a bit less.

It then gets strained and poured into a shallow pan. This is the point where you add the 2 tsp of vodka. This is also the point where you make yourself a drink, you know, since the bottle is out already.

Wait overnight or many hours and you can shave it with a spoon into a bowl very easily, due to the vodka. Serve as a light dessert :)

Sorbet #2 Pear Rosemary Vanilla. I started out with the same 2 cups simple syrup. Then cooked 3 VERY RIPE pears and their juices in the simple syrup until they were mashably soft, the time really depends on how ripe your pears were to start out with. In retrospect, I would have added about 1 cup of pear nectar / juice because I found it too light on pear flavour. Then turn the heat down to low and add about 1 tsp dried rosemary (or more if you want) and the seeds of 1/2 a vanilla bean, or vanilla extract.

The next part gets a little messy, and I suppose you can use the same method for any flavour that has real fruit pieces in it. Our mesh strainer was being used so I used cheese cloth (available at supermarkets). After draining the liquid out into a shallow pan, I put the pear pulp into a little cheese cloth sack and twisted it tighter and tighter to extract the liquid from the pulp. I suspect that pushing the pears through a mesh strainer with the back of a spoon would have been easier, but then I wouldn't have been able to share this slightly gross photo with you.

Again, it all goes into a shallow pan with 2 tsp of vodka. And have another drink at this point.
It won't work unless you do...

And overnight, PRESTO! Sorbet.
I love the little black seeds that you get from using the real vanilla bean.

Ugh, and Sorbet #3
Do I have to? ehhh okay. I thought this would be a great idea, it would be flowery and comforting. But it turned out to be a mouthful of bitter perfume. Blooming tea (don't know what flavour) and rosewater sorbet. It started with the same 2 cups simple syrup, 2 balls of blooming tea steeped in 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 tbsp of rosewater... why am I writing this? It was terrible, no one wants the recipe... well after I realized it was terrible and all hell broke loose and I started adding vanilla extract and lemon juice, but nothing could save it. However it started out with a very pretty picture of the blooming tea. Incidentally, this was quite a difficult picture to take... when you have the perfect sunbeam on the floor and 2 cats.

Don't be fooled by my prompting, this was AFTER they had already had their way with the tea and I had to chase it across the floor three times. Oh and make sure you listen to it with the audio, apparently the music from the TV ties it all together... especially at the end heh heh heh (flush)

At this point I still thought that the sorbet would be a success, it was so pretty and then I forgot about the tea. This is where the bitter comes in. The other failing was WAY too much rosewater, as I may have mentioned before.

And then to add insult to injury, I thought that adding gin as the antifreeze alcohol would go well with the combination. Yeah, it didn't.

So I put it in the freezer anyways, and it was actually really pretty with lovely ice shapes. But by this point I knew it would not actually TASTE good.

Here is a picture of the scraping. I thought it might be helpful for the other more succesful sorbet attempts if I showed the scraping. It works very quickly and with not a lot of elbow grease.

And the final product. Kyle says that it's not that bad, as a garnish or in small quantities it is okay. But I think it's horrid and so I photoshopped the background in this picture to be all dark so that it looks a little sinister.

So the moral of the story is, sorbets are easy and fast to prepare (even though they take a while to freeze) but just be careful with the intensity of your flavours. You need to 'over flavour' a little bit to counteract the effects of the cold, but don't go overboard. If it's offensive before you freeze it, it will be offensive after you freeze it. And if anyone knows of an anti-freeze solution that doesn't involve alcohol, please let me know. Oh! And share your sorbets if you make any, I'd be interested to hear what people have tried or made.

On the Wine to Water Montreal Event newsfront, we have a wine sponsor!!!! Barefoot Wines will be sponsoring half the wine for the event!!! It's alive and well and we're well on our way to making it happen, so stay tuned for more developments.

Another reason to stay tuned is that Caty Marzi of Snack & I will be having another blog challenge at the end of the month, AND we have recruited Tina Brooks of Brooks Pepperfire Foods as our 3rd challenge member. VERY exciting! It is the Mango Challenge. Thanks again


  1. As the old saying goes: 2 out of 3 ain't bad. The tea sorbet was...not good, but the grapefruit one was on the other end of the spectrum.

    I think I'd like to see an orange-mint sorbet. I think a frozen treat with mint in it would be out of this world!

  2. Orange mint eh? We'll have to give it a try? An other suggestions? Remember, January is sorbet month :)

  3. orange mint sounds DIVINE.

    as always, candace, your blog is hilarious and really fun to read.

  4. the grapefruit was great...any flavors u want to test on me is fine with me :) Mmmmm sorbet!

  5. My favorite sorbet is pear, by a landslide! Mmm...

    I just looked up a few things regarding ice crystalization and sorbets. I read that lactitol, a sugar alcohol, is particularly good at lowering (raising?) the freezing point of your sorbet, which should give it a softer consistency. Too much sugar alcohols loosens the poop chute though, so I don't know if that's preferable to a touch of vodka or not. More sugar seems as though it should also do the trick, but I imagine there comes a time when something becomes too sweet to be edible.

    From ice cream making, the churning aspect would also leave the sorbet softer without hopefully relying on too much vodka. Even just smooshing it around in a doubled Ziploc from time to time during the freezing process should help. Kind of like the kick the can idea I think I was telling you about over brunch. It retards ice crystal formation. Simlarly, "whipping" the mixture over the freezing intervals, like an ice cream machine would, should have similar results - though that sounds like a hell of a lot of work.

    Emulsifiers may also help. Without the aide of fat or eggs, since this is a sorbet, after all, I wonder if you could get away with adding soy lecithin in its place? You know, because we all have soy lecithin lying around.

    I'll do my own experiments when it's maybe not 10 degrees in my house to try and conjure up a less granitaesque consistency. I'm sure 10 degrees would be ideal for the making part, but not for consumption.