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Sep 13, 2010 08:52 PM

Store-Bought Simple Syrup in Sorbet?

Just got a sorbet maker (Cuisinart ICE-20R) and getting ready to do my first experiments in sorbet making. (I'm lactose intolerant so it probably won't be used much as an ice cream maker, but I'll probably do other non-dairy frozen desserts).
A lemon sorbet seems like a logical thing to do. I'll probably add a significant proportion of ginger, though. Sounds like the process is fairly straightforward.

One thing about which I wonder is about simple syrup. Sure, I know how easy it is to make. But, as it so happens, I bought a whole gallon of "blending syrup" at a local "food wholesaler" which also sells retail. Was quite inexpensive and it sounded like a useful thing to have for experiments, including flavoured syrups.
Here's the list of ingredients: glucose-fructose, water, glucose, citric acid, sodium benzoate, acetylated monoglycerides. Sure, a far cry from a well-crafted simple syrup made with pure organic sugar. But it doesn't sound that bad either. If I understand correctly, we're talking about "sugar, water, sugar, fruit acid, preservative, emulsifier."
But I don't know much about sorbet making and I'm wondering if any of this might have a negative effect on the finished product. As I don't really perceive any health issue from this, I'll probably just try it but in case somebody had insight to share on this, I thought I'd throw it out there.

And, yes, I do plan on using homemade syrup at a later point, including flavoured syrup made with high-quality sugar and filtered water. But as I'm getting started, I'll probably make a number of test batches so using store-bought syrup seems convenient as a shortcut.

Apart from this syrup issue, I'd appreciate any sorbet making advice or insight.

Thanks a lot!

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  1. You can use the syrup, it should have no adverse affects on your's a few sites to help you on your way:

    1 Reply
    1. re: Cherylptw

      Thanks for these links!
      Strangely enough, the FN one doesn't work. And I probably won't buy from WCA since I'm in Canada. But it's still useful.
      And the About recipes look particularly interesting. I've recently rediscovered (through their BBQ guide) and I find their resources valuable. In this case, it's more about inspiration than anything else, but that's what I need.

    2. The sweetness of this syrup may be hard to pin down. If your recipe calls for a simple syrup made with 1c of white sugar, how much of the store bought syrup do you use?

      1 Reply
      1. re: paulj

        I think this simple syrup is close to 1:1 simple syrup. And I decided to go by taste, at any rate (especially since I was adding so much ginger). But I get your point. In fact, I even thought about using a refractometer to measure the sugar percentage of this syrup. Might still do so, at some point.

      2. I don't have a specific answer about your store bought syrup but . . . .

        as luck would have it I was cleaning out old magazines last night, and set aside an article from the Sept. 2001 Fine Cooking called Taste Your Way to the Perfect Fruit Sorbet.

        It talks about the sugar levels affecting taste and texture, and the right amount for a given sorbet may depend on the sweetness of the fruit. It suggests you float a clean egg in the base. If it sinks more than a certain amount, you need more sugar in the base, so you should add more syrup and keep checking with the egg.

        It also suggests adding lemon juice as one way to adjust if your base is too sweet.

        The article is short but has lots of advice for customizing sorbet bases. Might be worth checking out from your library.

        1 Reply
        1. re: karykat

          Might look for this one, but online resources are so convenient that I may look for similar advice online!
          In this case, I know the quantity of sugar affects the firmness and all, but I thought I'd go by taste. And it provided me with exactly the flavour profile I wanted. I might still try the egg trick to see if my palate's in line with the "canonical" version. If it isn't, I might maintain my practice but will know to keep quantities in check when looking at a recipe.

          (This syrup I've used isn't overly sweet on its own, thanks to the citric acid, and I was using it with lemon plus ginger. The result is far from cloying.)

          Thanks for the reference!


        2. Hadn't noticed replies were added (thought I'd receive notifications). Thanks a lot for all the useful advice!

          And... it did work.
          My lemon-ginger sorbet was a bit soft on its way out of the machine, but the flavour profile is exactly what I wanted.
          I used almost a liter of this store-bought syrup with more than a half-liter of a ginger-lemon concoction I made (lemon juice and food-processed peeled ginger). All of this blended together. The resulting liquid was more than the 1.5 quart my sorbet-maker can withstand so I reserved a portion to mix with a syrup made from ginger peel infused in a brown sugar and water solution. I also did a simple sugar to which I added a good quantity of lemon zest. These two syrups I pressure-cooked and will use in later batches.

          Judging the amount of sugar may be tricky but, in this case, I decided to go by taste. It's not sweet enough according to some who tried it but it's exactly what I wanted. Having this simple syrup on hand (chilled) was quite helpful, as I could adjust directly by adding syrup to the mix.
          One thing is for sure, I'll be doing an apple-ginger sorbet soon. The ginger syrup I made just cries out "apple sauce sorbet." Especially the solids (which I didn't keep in the syrup). I might even add some homemade hard cider that I like.

          As for consistency, it's not even a problem but I get the impression that the sorbet will get firmer as it spends time in the freezer. It's been there for almost two hours already and I should be able to leave it there for another two hours before I bring it out (actually, traveling with it). The machine's book mentions two hours in the freezer for a firmer consistency and I've seen several mentions of "ripening" so it sounds like it'd make sense to do this.
          Also, the lemon-ginger mixture I used wasn't chilled, prior to use. It may have had an impact on the firmness, I guess...

          As a first attempt at sorbet-making, it's quite convincing. I've had a few food-related hobbies, in the recent past, and sorbet-making might easily take some space among them, especially if results are this satisfying without effort. I was homebrewing beer until recently (and will probably try beer sorbets, as I've tasted some nice ones made by friends and I have a lot of leftover beer from the time I was still brewing). By comparison to homebrewing, sorbet-making seems to be a (proverbial) "piece of cake."

          Dunno if such a long tirade violates any Chow forum rule but I just wanted to share my first experience.

          Thanks again for all your help!