Sorbets are my new favourite thing. I’ve never been a paritcular fan of ice cream- in fact I’d go so far as to say that with one exception, I actively dislike the stuff. I’ve never understood why, in the middle of a hot and sticky day, someone would decide to coat their mouth and throat with a substance so thick and, well, sticky.
But sorbet (or sherbet) is another matter. It’s cream-free, light as air, and both palate-cleansing and totally refreshing. You can have it as a snack on that hot and sticky day, or use it as an extra course to glam up a dinner party.
And best of all? It’s so darn easy to make at home! You don’t need an ice-cream maker, nor do you have to make a custard before you even get started with flavours. Now I’m aware that ice cream can be made without the ice cream machine, but from what I understand there’s a great deal of mixing and freezing and more mixing and more freezing and even more mixing involved.
Not so with the sorbet. All it takes it a simple sugar syrup, your fruit of choice, a bit of freezing, a beaten egg white, and a bit more freezing. Really couldn’t be simpler.
So anyway, having started out with your basic lemon sorbet, I’ve been playing around with different flavours, and I’d like to share with you my current fave, which is Tangerine with Basil and Lime. This came about because I was at a fruit stall the other day, and mistakenly bought 3 lbs of tangerines, thinking I was only buying 3 tangerines. Faced with this sudden glut, I knew I’d have to find a use for them soon, or wind up with some sort of citrus-based ailment. It also came about because my basil plant is threatening to take over my kitchen like kudzu, and I’ve always been a believer in at least trying out the weird stuff.
Trust me, the basil really works here. It doesn’t take over the tangerine, but still makes its presence felt, and along with the lime, ensures that the sorbet never becomes too cloyingly sweet.
TANGERINE SORBET WITH BASIL AND LIME
Makes 6-8 servings (at least)
You will need:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- A small handful of basil leaves
- The grated rind and juice of 1 lime
- 2 cups of tangerine juice (this will take between 2-3 lbs of tangerines, peeled)
- 1 large egg white
Place the water and sugar in a saucepan. Lightly crush the basil leaves in your hand (to release the oils) and add them to the saucepan along with the lime rind. Bring this mixture to the boil, and simmer briskly for 10 minutes then allow to cool to room temperature (about 20 minutes).
Meanwhile, separate the peeled tangerines into segments and whizz up in a blender. Peeling a couple of pounds of tangerines may sound like something of an endless chore, but really tangerines peel very easily indeed, so it’s actually the work of moments. Then pass the resulting tangerine mush through a strainer into a bowl. This will remove any stray pips or bits of pith.
Pick out the basil leaves from the cooled syrup, and add the syrup to the bowl with the tangerine juice along with the lime juice. Mix together, then pour the mixture into a freezer-safe container and freeze for 2-3 hours, or until the mixture becomes slushy.
Once the mixture has reached this stage, beat the egg white until it forms firm white peaks, then fold it into the slushy tangerine mixture. This ain’t a soufflé, so don’t be afraid when folding.
Then just return to the freezer and leave it for another couple of hours (at least) or until about 10 minutes before you want to serve it.