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Jun 21, 2006 01:19 PM

Sorbet with a Reduced Sugar Simple Syrup - Will it work?

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Hi Chowhounds - I have a gorgeous 30 lb watermelon in my kitchen. I was thinking of making a simple sorbet that I found on epicurious. The recipe calls for 8 cups of cubed watermelon, 1 cup of "simple syrup" and 2 tbs of lemon juice. The "simple syrup recipe" calls for 2 cups of sugar dissolved in 2 cups of water. Because the watermelon is plenty sweet and because I want to reduce my refined sugar intake, I was thinking of making a "simple syrup" of 2 cups water and 1 cup sugar, and use one cup of this concoction for the sorbet recipe. Will this work? Will the sorbet still have a good consistency? A search on this board reveals only recipes and not a thread on reduced sugar sorbets. Thanks Chowhounds!

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  1. Sugar in sorbet serves more than just a sweetening role -- it helps with texture, too, and freezability to some extent. Too little sugar, and your sorbet will freeze rock-hard in the freezer and be all but unscoopable, much more like a chunk of fruit ice than sorbet. If you're planning on eating the watermelon sorbet straight from the machine, or even a few hours later, you should be okay with a fairly significant reduction in sugar. If you were hoping to store it overnight... you'll be less successful. You can generally add a (raw) egg white to sorbet to help with the texture -- it keeps it smoother and also from freezing as hard. I've had fairly decent success with all-fruit sorbets, no added water or sugar, but only when we eat them fairly immediately. You might want to blend the watermelon, add the lime or lemon juice, and taste -- add superfine sugar to this (keep it in the blender, for really easy mixing), until it's just a bit too sweet for your liking (conversely, you could add the sugar syrup here, but I actually prefer to add straight sugar and just blend until it's totally dissolved -- shouldn't be a problem since you're probably not adding a ton of sugar-- I do this to not dilute the fruit flavor/intensity at all. You can also use honey if you want that taste). Freeze this mixture, adding the egg white during the last few minutes of mixing in the ice cream maker.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Foodie2

      You could also make it as a granita. Pouring the reduced sugar watermelon mixture into a shallow dish, like a Pyrex 9 X 13 and freeze in your freezer stirring every 30 to 45 minutes until frozen and then scrape it into another container with a tight lid to keep other flavors out. It won't have the creaminess of a sorbet but on a hot sticky day it will be very refreshing though granular in texture.

      1. re: Foodie2

        I just tried a tip I read in Saveur magazine this month that helped with a mango sorbet that might be relevant here. The recipe recommended adding two tablespoons of vodka (or something comparably lacking in strong flavor) to lower the freezing point of the sorbet to create fewer ice crystals and a smoother consistency. It worked well and didn't really affect the taste too much. With something as watery as watermelon that might be a good tip.

        1. re: joypirate

          This is a great tip -- I don't know why I forgot to mention it -- I add a little alcohol to all of my sorbets now!

          1. re: Foodie2

            That is absolutely essential in my opinion.
            As for your sugar issue...while I agree it won't work in all cases, as the sugar does help the texture, I think it will be fine here, as the watermelon is so sweet and sugary.
            I'd try it...I'm sure it will be great.

            1. re: Foodie2

              I added more liquor, now it is not freezing hard enough, what can I add to make it freeze harder but not too icey?

              1. re: COPSupply

                Only fix is to add more liquid and remix, add more fruit puree to start. Depends just how much alchohol you added, might not be fixable without adding a large volume of additional ingredients

                  1. re: COPSupply

                    You could also try gelatin - plain or flavored. Keep in mind that one packet gels a pint of liquid so approximate. I'd guess a packet to a quart of sorbet without alcohol.

                    Some recipes for popsicles call for the addition of gelatin, to keep them from freezing rock-hard.

          2. re: Foodie2

            I also like to add sugar directly to the fruit puree instead of using a syrup - I like the softer texture and I think the taste is more intense because you're not diluting it with more water. And as you stated, the extra water will also cause it to freeze up harder..... if you start with good, ripe fruit it's hard to go wrong.

            1. re: Foodie2

              HI you mention using honey instead of sugar. I am trying to make honey herb sorbet but can not get the proportions right. I made the syrup with honey instead of sugar and have not had any luck getting it to set up in the ice cream machine.
              Any comments or suggestions?

            2. I would make up the simple syrup with 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water, add your watermelon and proceed. This gives you the same sugar concentration as the original and should maintain the same texture.

              Agree about adding some alcohol although this makes your sorbet more slushy, i.e. it will take longer to freeze and tend to melt more quickly when it's not in the freezer.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cheryl

                Agreed...I actually thought that was what was being proposed, before a second look.
                You don't want to just reduce the sugar, as then you'll be adding alot of water to simply crystalize.
                I'd keep the proportions the same, just lower the amounts.

              2. Just wanted to report back on the sorbet. The reduced sugar didn't make the sorbet too icy fortunately! I would use this recipe again. Although I definitely hear the warnings about using too little sugar. Thanks for all the tips!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Ingrid Ingrid

                  @Ingrid So great to hear that your sugar reduction worked - I just made a blood orange sorbet with 1:1 ratio sugar to water, and it was way too sweet. I'm going to try 0.5:1 and see how it goes.

                2. I make Melon Sorbet throughout the summer and don't use any sugar.

                  I use Da Vinci Simple Syrup and "Not Sugar", Honeydew with Lime Juice. Add a little Midori Liqueur at the end. Divine and totally guilt free.