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altering sorbet texture

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Hi guys,

I make prickly pear and passionfruit sorbet, but the texture is too icy and freezes rock-hard.

I am following all the instructions on my churner (freezing the canister for over 24 hours, and refrigerating the sorbet liquid overnight before churning).

I do not want to add more sugar, as it is the perfect level sweetness as is (I do add a little bit of sugar to the fruit, but it's very little, since they're already pretty sweet).

What option does that leave me? Alcohol? This is supposed to be a 'healthy' option at a rehearsal dinner.... My mother mentioned adding egg whites to the mix. Has anyone tried this?

Thanks.

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  1. Unless you serve it straight from the ice cream maker, this method is going to produce a rock hard result. Have you tried softening it a bit for a few seconds (depends on the mass) in the microwave? It can have an impact on the texture, so be cautious.

    The other suggestion that occurs to me is instead of making it as a sorbet, try it as a granita. If you're not familiar with it, there are lots of recipes on the web, but basically you put it in a large baking dish, partially freeze it, scrape it into tiny ice crystals with a fork, then repeat a couple of times, or until you're happy with the grain of the texture.

    If you want to make the dessert ahead of time with little fuss at serving, I think the granita may be more what you're looking for. Good luck!

    1. A small amount of alcohol would make it freeze somewhat more slowly and form smaller ice crystals, producing a finer texture.

      1. I realize this isn't practical, but the silkiest, smoothest sorbet I've ever eaten was frozen using liquid nitrogen. Very simple: just make your sorbet mixture, then pour in liquid nitrogen and stir.

        No, I'm not suggesting you actually do this.

        1. Use simple syrup & a little light corn syrup. The texture will be smooth & almost ice cream like.

          1. Sounds like the churner didn't move the sorbet mixture around enough during freezing. Large crystals only form with a lack of movement, so keep that churner churning. Is this a mechanical or hand churner, or an ice cream machine? Sounds like the sorbet sat too long between cranks. Keep the sorbet mass moving around continually till it looks like sorbet. Finish freezing in the freezer.

            A good idea is to use a sugar syrup (not simple syrup) with a good deal of acid (lemon juice, lime juice) as your sweetner. The sugar syrup with the acid becomes an invert sugar syrup and creates finer cystals. You may have had too much water also.

            1. I'd try the suggestions that others are making here first, and also try increasing the sugar content by a reasonable amount. It takes a surprising amount of sugar to make something frozen taste noticeably sweeter.

              If that doesn't do it, you could try folding some Italian meringue into the mixture before freezing.

              1. thanks for the various suggestions.

                I am using a Krups ice cream maker, with a removable canister that must be frozen 24 hrs before use.

                I tried softening it for a while, and while it was easier to cut, the texture didn't improve It was - too melty OR rock hard.

                While I think the granita might be a good idea, I'm concerned out quantities. I'm going to make quite a couple litres (the dinner's for 60, and I'm making three flavours ice cream anda sorbet for those wanting a lighter option). Can I make it into granita in advance and refreeze, or must if be done just before serving?

                Thanks.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Gooseberry

                  Yikes! SIXTY people! You CAN make granitas a day or two ahead of time. The problem with serving it to a crowd is that it's not quite as simple as scooping ice cream. To show a granita off to top advantage, it is best served in a well chilled glass (my favorite use for martini glasses). Then it should be "raked' one more time with an ice cold fork before being put in the glass, garnished with a sprig of mint or an ice cold cherry, and served immediately. Here's a web page with some interesting granitas in the left hand column.
                  http://whatscookingamerica.net/IceCre...

                  Now, for practicality's sake with such a large crowd, -- and don't laugh, I'm serious about this! -- have you thought about popsicles? You can be really creative coming up with a great flavor. For scaling the presentation up a notch or two, you can tie a ribbon aroung the stick, lay it gently on a dessert plate and rest a sprig of mint across it. It would be one heck of a lot easier, and popsicles can be such a fun surprise. You could call it a "Young Again Frozen Dessert." '-)

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    Hi Caroline, erm, it's a buffet service, so there will be no pretty plating in chilled glasses - although I can appreciate how appealing (and manageable!) that would be for a smaller dinner party.

                    As for the popsicles, I promise not to laugh. I run a small popsicle business in the summer months (selling to local schools, farmer's markets, etc), and this sorbet is my attempt to translate a very successful popsicle (Prickly Passions) into sorbet. I don't want to do popsicles because this will be a late winter wedding, and experience in the popsicle business has shown me that people just don't dig popsicles when it's cold. Ice cream however doesn't seem to go out of season!

                    So since I'm dead set against popsicles (great idea from your side, nonetheless!) and granita seems a bit too intensive, right now, I'm thinking of ditching the 'healthy' sorbet option, and just doing ten pints of ice cream. Let the health freaks skip dessert if they can withstand malted milk ice cream....

                    1. re: Gooseberry

                      Sounds like a winning plan to me! Good for you. (And good for them too.)

                  2. re: Gooseberry

                    Just be very comfortable with your results and technique before making ice cream or sorbet for 60 people.

                  3. a little alcohol really does wonders.
                    as does letting it warm up for a bit.

                    i've seen recipes that use egg whites. i was hoping someone had tried that and could comment.

                    1. Just to clarify - your goal is a classical sorbet, not a sherbet? I only ask because the two terms are often used interchangeably in this country and, except for dairy ingredients in the sherbet, there isn't much difference.
                      Some form of alcohol might help, as previously noted, because it lowers the freezing temperature. But if you're serving a large group you are likely to find some who prefer not to consume alcohol so that could easily exacerbate your problem.
                      Sorbet is actually intended to be somewhat icy, not creamy like ice cream or sherbet, and that's the reason you don't find milk products included in the mix. Milk products would allow air to be whipped into the ingredients which is what supports the creamy texture. If you are not in a position to make the sorbet and serve it right away, I'd opt for the granita suggestion made previously. Egg whites should "improve" (whatever that might mean) the texture but the, IMO, it wouldn't be a classical sorbet.
                      There are several ideas on this page:
                      http://www.oxford.anglican.org/page/686/
                      that might help you in making your decision.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: todao

                        thanks for the link, todao. I did mean sorbet - no dairy, just fruit puree and a little sugar syrup to taste.

                        I think there's too much that could go wrong with granita or sorbet, even with all the suggestions here. I think I'll just do ice cream, with its more forgiving and scoopable texture. Thanks.

                        1. re: Gooseberry

                          FWIW, I think ice cream makes more sense, given that it's for a winter wedding. Ice cream works fine in the winter, but sorbet is very much a summer, cooling thing.

                      2. I don't have an ice cream maker, so when I make a sorbet, I churn it several times during freezing with an immersion blender. Timing of those churns is important. One when the mix is slushy breaks up the ice crystals, creating many small ones that serve as seeds for further freezing. One or two more keep them small.

                        1. I see you've decided to go with ice cream, but if you want to rethink your sorbet, you might try using a little fruit pectin.