For Christmas, my uncle always sends me a really generous Williams-Sonoma gift card. It takes me WEEKS to decide what to buy with it, since Williams-Sonoma is pretty much my favorite store on the planet. Sometimes I blow the whole thing on something huge, like my KitchenAid mixer and sometimes I break it up into a bunch of small but useful things, like the year I got a strawberry huller and some treats and some spatulas and the best kitchen tool ever. This past year I split it between a grill tray and an ice cream maker – the Cuisinart Stainless-Steel 2 Quart Ice Cream Maker to be exact (Five stars! Highly recommend!)
And then I let it sit in my basement for 5 months, waiting for ice cream weather. Once the warm weather arrived, I spent hours online looking for the best, most delicious, most complicated ice cream and gelato and frozen yogurt and sorbet recipes. But in the end, it turns out EASY and ON-HAND beats fanciest every time so I’ve perfected a recipe for turning whatever-the-heck you have in your fridge into delicious, refreshing sorbet.
When I say juice, I literally mean any kind of juice. Grape, pineapple, cherry, whatever. You could make carrot sorbet if you wanted to, although that’s not really my cup of tea. TEA is more like my cup of tea, since the Sweet Tea Sorbet I made barely got photographed before I shoved it all into my face.
Here are a few of the kinds I made in the past week:
Are you ready for the recipe yet? Gentlemen, start your ice cream makers!
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cup juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
Put the water and the sugar in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is all dissolved, then simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer syrup to a container and refrigerate until cold*. Zest a lemon – use a vegetable peeler if you don’t have a zester and chop up the zest a little. Then cut the lemon in half and squeeze out all the juice. Add the lemon juice and zest to your syrup. Once everything is cold, pour the syrup/lemon mix and the 1 1/2 cups juice into your ice cream maker**. Following your machine’s instructions, let it churn until it’s frozen (mine takes about 25 minutes). Eat as is – it will be a little soft – or transfer to an airtight container and freeze for a couple hours until it’s more like store-bought sorbet. SO GOOD. Don’t forget to put your ice cream maker bowl back in the freezer to make more tomorrow.
*Look, you just made simple syrup! You can make it in larger batches using the same 1/1 sugar/water ratio and keep it on hand for more sorbet or other delicious things like a blueberry gin gimlet or sparkling lemonade.
**This is SO SUPER EASY with an ice cream maker, but if you don’t have one you can just pour everything into a large flat baking dish. Put it in the freezer and let it freeze, scraping the top occasionally to make it fluffier. The end result will be a little icier than with the ice cream maker but it’s still delicious! If you want a softer finished product (like a Rita’s Water Ice) pulse it in a blender or food processor for a few seconds after it’s frozen. Eat immediately and enjoy!
I’ve practically broken my arm patting myself on the back for this recipe. I love the fact that I can make any possible flavor of sorbet with minimal effort. I love the little bits of lemon zest to even out the sweetness. I love that it’s fat free. And I love that I can bribe my kids to do pretty much anything for a spoonful – and they have no idea it’s practically the same juice they can get any old time.
Suggestions and variations:
If you don’t like lemon, use some other citrus. If you don’t like citrus, leave it out.
If you want a less-sweet sorbet, use 1/2 cup simple syrup and 1/2 cup water.
If you don’t have juice, use pureed fruit and/or squeeze your own.
Top with fresh or frozen berries (duh).
Blend it with tequila or rum for a delicious frozen drink.
p.s. After my super home-made food photography shoot on Saturday, I had three adorable little dishes of sorbet just sitting on my counter melting. Obviously I had to fix that problem immediately.