Friday, April 23, 2010

DIY: Part Two of Frugal Frozen Fare - Lessons Learned

We're having a lot of fun with this frozen yogurt/ice cream maker! We've made vanilla and strawberry ice cream, and now we're branching out into sorbets. My motivation behind making the sorbets is twofold. One, I want to use fruit we have in our own yard (lemons and strawberries right now); and two, I want to reduce the amount of fat, but still make a tasty frozen dessert.

I'm still using the recipes that came with our ice cream machine. They are pretty basic, and I'm learning the "ins and outs" of using this machine. The most important step is to make sure your freezing bowl is FROZEN. You shouldn't hear anything moving around inside the bowl once it's frozen solid. That takes about 18 hours -- but if you put something inside of it sometime during that freezing time, expect it to take longer. (Yes, that happened to us!)

The first part of making these sorbets is to make some simple syrup. It involves the highly complicated (insert: sarcasm!) process of mixing equal parts of sugar and water, bring to a boil, and simmer until all the sugar is dissolved. Then, you let it cool. Sounds easy, right? Well, the last step is the one that keeps tripping me up! Both times I've made sorbet (lemon and strawberry) I haven't left enough time for the simple syrup to COOL all the way. It's important that it be cool before the ingredients go into the ice cream maker, or, you guessed it, you won't be happy with the UNFROZEN results.

My recommendation is, if you think you're going to be making some sorbet, make the syrup up the DAY BEFORE, then put it into your refrigerator. It only takes a couple minutes, then you'll be ready for the next step.

Now what about the fruit part of your sorbet? When making lemon sorbet, I recommend using a citrus juicer, either manual or a machine. You will need a lot of lemon juice, and this will make it go faster. If you're making strawberry sorbet, you will need something to strain the seeds from your strawberry puree. I use the smallest sieve I have, and some of the seeds still sneak through. This can be avoided somewhat by straining the puree in small batches, and rinsing the seeds out of the sieve between batches. If needed, add some cheesecloth to your strainer.

Once all your ingredients are ready and mixed together, here's the hardest part. Put the mixture into the refrigerator and wait another hour at least. With your ingredients all nice and cold, you'll get the best result! Once they are well chilled, you're ready to add them to your ice cream maker. Once you begin processing, don't be too hasty to get your tasty treat out of the machine. I let mine go the full recommended time (30 minutes, usually). That last five minutes will result in a lighter, fluffier, and more frozen product, so don't be tempted to stop it too early. Just watch it carefully -- if it gets too fluffy, it might spill out of your freezing bowl! (Yes, that's happened to me once, so keep an eye on yours!)

Strawberry sorbet - ready to be eaten!

Once the processing time is done, I always put it into the freezer for a couple hours. I found that the ice cream is good right from the machine (think soft serve) but the sorbets truly benefit from that extra freezing time. But, try it for yourself, and see how you like it!

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