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Getting the right texture of sorbets?

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Hi all-
I've tried a few attempts at making sorbets with my ice cream maker (grapefruit campari) and am having issues with the texture. The sorbet, once transfered to a tupperware for the freezer, turns into ice chunks, even with campari added. Give it a day and it's a solid ice block.

Is there a method to give the sorbet a softer/smoother texture?

I once saw on an episode of Iron Chef someone adding gelatin to the sorbet and I'm wondering what that does...since it could have been a time constraint thing with the show.

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  1. The only times I've had sorbet mishaps is when I either
    1. used too little sugar - in attempts to make it less fatty, I'd halve the sugar required from the recipe, that usually led to a much icier sorbet. To get that nice smooth texture, you really do need lots of sugar.

    2. When I didn't add liquor. This shouldn't be your problem - but how much campari did you add?

    What's your recipe - maybe something's missing there.

    Also, how long did you churn it for in your machine? It usually should be around 15-20 mins depending on how cold your mixture was.

    blog: http://virtualfrolic.blogspot.com/

    1. As pointed out by the previous post, sugar is very important in getting a softer smoother sorbet. Alcohol will also help by reducing the freezing temperature. Try churning it a little less. After it hardens, run it through your food processor.
      Sorbets made from fruits that just have juice like grapefruit and orange will freeze to a harder and icier consistency than sorbets made from pulpy fruits. Mango, peach and strawberry make smoother sorbets.

      1. Thanks to both replys.

        I don't have the recipe on me, but I used the called for amount of sugar, doing a simple syrup over the stove first.
        I added one of those mini bottles of campari. 2 oz? Maybe I'll add some vodka next time...that's how I like to serve it anyway:-)

        I'm wondering how the commercial sorbet people do it. Not McSorbet with chemicals, but folks like Ciao Bella. I've had theirs and it's soft after being in my freezer for days.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Sebby

          They probably add a stabilizer like guar gum or carrageenan.

          1. re: cheryl_h

            Not all of Ciao Bella's flavors add guar gum - fruits that are naturally high in pectin will lead to smoother, softer sorbets.

          2. re: Sebby

            Here's a link to a gelato stabilizer mix, give a call and see whether it would work for sorbet as well.....
            would a tblspoon of corn syrup added to the sugar syrup work I wonder?


            1. re: ChowFun_derek

              Ahhh! Thanks for this link! Turns out E410 is locust bean gum and E412 is guar gum...both gums used to inhibit ice crystals.
              I think I'll buy this product and give it a try.

              Also, to the other poster on the freezer. Yes, it might be high, it's on 3 or 4, but it's a new fridge and we have been fiddling with it. I notice that the fridge part has different temps from the front and back.

          3. In order to be soft, sorbet must be at least 30% sugar... sorry!

            I've never made a sorbet with egg whites, but I've read that it produces very creamy results.

            And, yes, the addition of vodka prevents sorbet from becoming too solid.

            1 Reply
            1. re: scenicrec

              wow, 30% sugar is alot.
              hmm, I looked up guar gums, carrageens, locust bean gum and xanthan gum. Seems like those are the products that inhibit ice crystals from forming.
              I'll have to see if any of my local stores carry any of the "gums". Probably Rainbow.
              Egg whites seems very weird to me. Hmm, I have egg white powder, wonder what that will do to the mix.

              I'll see what I can come up with for the next batch.

              thanks all!

            2. Taking it from the other end...your freezer's temperature is a factor. Actually two factors. You could adjust your freezer's temperature (or where you store the sorbet in the freezer). Also, frost-free freezers (all modern freezers except inexpensive chest freezers) cycle the temperature. This melts everything slightly, then refreezes it on a regular basis.

              Certainly easier to adjust the freezing point by altering the ingredients (I own a refractometer to measure sugar) but storage matters too.

              1. Less sweet forms of sugar such as glucose syrup or non high fructose, regular corn syrup work well for limiting/controlling ice crystallization.

                Salt is a powerful freezing point depressor, and, when used in very small amounts isn't detectable. Salt also acts to enhance the sweetness of desserts.

                Cellulose gum is ideal for frozen confections, but other gums (guar, locust bean, xanthan) work fairly well. Gelatin is the next rung down on the latter- not as good as gums, but better than nothing. Gelatin is sensitive to acidic environments, though. For a high acid fruit, you're best bet would be xanthan gum. Whole Foods sells xanthan, as do most health food stores.

                Xanthan and guar have a good synergy with each other. If you purchase one, I highly recommend purchasing the other. Some brands of guar have a beany taste to them. This is another good reason to combine guar and xanthan.

                1. Thanks for the tips. Yes, it seems that a combo of the "gums" is the trick. I work a few blocks from Whole Foods , so I'm going to go explore what they carry at lunch today.

                  Thanks all. When I make a new batch I'll post the results.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Sebby

                    I bought the stabilizer from icaffe linked above. As mentioned below, be very careful about the amount you use. The recommended amount (sorry, don't recall now) produces an unpleasantly slimy texture which doesn't freeze at all. I think I went down to about 1 Tbs per quart of sorbet or gelato to get a smooth texture without that nasty goopy mouthfeel.

                    1. re: cheryl_h

                      Hey Cheryl, have you tried the stabilizer w/ very watery sorbet bases like grapefruit, lemon, watermelon, etc? Does it keep it relatively soft and creamy once in the freezer?

                      To the OP: my favorite fruit sorbets are made from pulpy fruit like peach, strawberry, mango, etc. When mixed w/ sugar syrup and maybe a little alcohol, texture can be divine. For watery fruits, I prefer to make granita where the jagged, fluffy texture is expected. I also find that sorbets need to temper (aka thaw) for longer before I can scoop properly.

                      1. re: Carb Lover

                        Hi CL - sorry I haven't made any watery sorbets with it. I used it with plum sorbet which is a bit more solid from the pureed fruit. This is the one which came out too slimy for me. I tried it again with peach sorbet, again more slushy than lemon etc. It came out well with a small amount of the stabilizer.

                        I can't imagine why it wouldn't work with grapefruit, lemon etc. but I won't be making any frozen treats until next summer so I can't offer a report.

                  2. Gums are very powerful thickeners. Start out small- maybe 1/4 t. per cup of liquid. If you use to much, your sorbet can have a gummy texture.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: scott123

                      The instructions are for about a half ounce (.6) for ONE GALLON of mix!
                      So..yes be aware, and be very judicious in its' use...

                      1. re: ChowFun_derek

                        Also, vegetarians beware! Many commercial sorbet stabilizer mixes have gelatin.

                    2. Ack, sorry for bumping this old thread. :(