Raspberry Mint Sorbet
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I don't know what it is exactly, but I don't truly feel like it's summer until the first raspberries show up. I love everything about raspberries. I love the way they pop off the plant like tiny little thimbles, I love how there are different varieties all around the world, I love the taste (of course) - I even love those crunchy little seeds. At least in moderation.
Raspberries make for some of the best desserts, pairing beautifully with chocolate and other flavours. They're wonderful on their own or as the primary flavour in a dessert too, though their natural sweetness and distinctive flavour can almost be a bit overwhelming. Enter: MINT.
This is a simple, delightful, wildly refreshing summer sorbet, and while the raspberries are clearly the stars, the mint plays a vital role. The tingly, cool freshness of fresh mint serves as a foil to the ultra-sweet fruit while further emphasizing the refreshing iciness of the sorbet. The mint flavour is not nearly as strong as you'd encounter in, say, a chocolate mint ice cream, but it definitely makes its presence felt.
I made this with my beloved ice cream maker (a tool I strongly recommend investing in if you're at all interested in high-quality and stress-free home made frozen treats), but I've given some options below if you don't have access to one.
I'm not reinventing the wheel here - this is pretty straightforward stuff. But there are a few tools that will make this a lot easier, and a couple of little tricks too.
I make sorbet with two of my favourite kitchen appliances - my ice cream maker, and my Vitamix blender. You can make sorbet (or granita) without these, but they make life MUCH easier. Ice cream makers are one of those kitchen tools that seems somewhat extravagant, but if you're really into DIY desserts, they're a pretty reasonable investment. They're not overly expensive (mine was less than $100), and they're quite simple to use. They do take up substantial kitchen real estate, so I keep mine in my garage until I'm ready to use it. As for the Vitamix - well, I adore having a high-powered blender. You can do so much with it - including making ice cream WITHOUT an ice cream maker (that's a topic for another day though - I'll be tackling that soon!). The Vitamix is powerful enough to puree the sorbet mixture without leaving a bunch of overly large flecks of mint in the mixture, which simplifies the process a great deal.
Alright, sales pitch aside (and for the record, I'm not making any money if you go and decide to buy either of those tools), let's talk about what you can do if you don't have those appliances.
No High-Powered Blender?
If you have a small blender or a food processor, this is still a pretty easy recipe. Simply mince your mint before adding it to the raspberries - the finer the better - then proceed with the remaining steps.
If you don't have a blender of food processor at all, I have good news: you can still make sorbet. First of all, you're going to want to make sure you follow the maceration step (see "The Keys to Good Sorbet" below) as it will soften the fruit and draw out the juice. You'll also need to VERY finely mince your mint so that you don't get tough little bits of it in the sorbet. After that, all you need is a nice big pot, a potato masher, and some muscles. Pound the heck out of the liquid sorbet mixture, then strain out all of the seeds, taking care to press the juice/puree through a mesh to extract as much of the good stuff as you can. And hey, all that extra work means you get an extra serving of sorbet, right?
No Ice Cream Maker?
This one is a little more work to overcome, but still very doable. Sorbet, like ice cream, should be fairly delicate and without any particularly large crystals of ice. If you want to make something with larger, more textural chips of ice, follow the granita instructions below. If you want to try to achieve that sorbet consistency without an ice cream maker, there are three basic options that can work.
- Follow the granita option (outlined below), but work the fork a little bit more vigorously and more frequently to try to create smaller ice crystals.
- Make standard granita, then throw the finished, frozen mixture in a food processor and quickly blitz it. Do NOT run the blade too long, or the mixture will start to freeze.
- This method is for those of you with the aforementioned high-powered blender. Freeze about 3/4 of the sorbet mixture in ice cube trays or a shallow pan (a baking tray or two would be ideal, as you'll want to break the frozen sheets up into pieces). Place the other 1/4 of the mixture in the refrigerator. Place the cold liquid portion of the mixture in the blender, then add the frozen cubes/pieces. Starting at a low speed and quickly (but steadily) increase to the highest setting, blend the mixture until it forms a uniform and thick mixture. Do not over-blend the sorbet, or it will start to melt.
You'll likely encounter some recipes that suggest freezing the whole thing in a shallow pan and scooping it out, but this will yield large ice crystals with very little air in the mix. Basically, that's how you make a popsicle, not a sorbet.
The Keys to Good Sorbet
There's nothing terribly complicated about making sorbet, but you'll want to make sure you follow a few key steps.
First and foremost, let's talk about seeds. This tip is specific to this recipe and not sorbet in general, but it's worth bearing in mind for other recipes. I do like raspberry seeds, but you're using over a pound of raspberries here and that makes for a LOT of seeds. A lot of seeds will ruin the texture of your sorbet, so you're best taking the puree from the blender and pressing it through a mesh strainer of some kind. If you're really picky about it, use a very fine mesh to make sure you get every last seed, but I'm personally fine with the occasional seed making it through so I use a slightly coarser mesh.
Because texture is a big thing when it comes to sorbet, you want to pay attention to just how frozen you can get the final product. The key isn't just freezing the mixture, but freezing it with very small ice crystals and a fair bit of incorporated air. Make sure to refrigerate the mixture that comes out of the blender, as it won't properly freeze in an ice cream maker if it's at room temperature (trust me). I find that the sorbet is a bit on the soft side as it comes out of an ice cream maker, so I put the whole batch into the freezer as soon as it's finished. After about 1 hour you'll have an ideal, soft-yet-icy consistency. If you leave it longer it will freeze pretty hard, but you can take it out 15 minutes before serving to soften.
I add one optional step to my sorbet making that I borrowed from the world of preserving - I macerate the berries. The idea is a simple one - the fruit is covered in sugar (and in some cases liquid) and left for a period of time. This draws juice out of the berries, softens them, and lets the flavours intermarry for a little while. If you have time to do it, I do recommend it - especially if you don't have a high-powered blender, as it helps break down the berries.
The granita (specifically the Sicilian granita) is quite a bit like a sorbet, however the crystals of ice are a bit coarser and more textural. Because of this, it's a lot easier to make a granita by hand than a sorbet.
Hand made granita takes time and attention, but isn't too tricky. Pour the mixture in one or more wide, flat containers (you want a lot of surface area and not a lot of volume) and place in the freezer. Remove the mixture from the freezer ever 30 minutes or so and use a fork to fluff and break up the ice crystals. Work quickly and return the mixture to the freezer when you finish. The granita is finished when it's frozen through with small ice crystals and plenty of incorporated air. If you wait too long the mixture freezes solid, you can allow it to melt (partially or completely) and start over.
Sorbet is pretty straightforward stuff, and you can do pretty much anything with it, so I'm not going to list every possible combination. Instead, I have a couple of raspberry-specific variations to mention. Feel free to experiment.
Raspberry Basil - mint is lovely, but basil has a wonderful flavour that also works quite nicely with sweet red fruits. Substitute an equal amount of basil for mint.
Raspberry-Blackberry - An excellent combination with a darker colour and a deeper, richer flavour.
Try a 50:50 mix of fruits, or go with whatever you've got on hand.
Chambord - The classic black raspberry liqueur adds a grown-up touch to raspberry sorbet. Add 2 tablespoons to the mixture when blending. Note that adding alcohol does make it a little tougher to freeze a sorbet or ice cream, so you might end up with a softer end product.
Note: nutritional info is shown for a 1/8th serving (approx. 1 medium-sized scoop).
Note: nutritional info is shown for a 1/8th serving, approx. 1 medium-sized scoop.
No ingredient pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe. Like to see one? Let me know in the comments below or by email.
No pantry pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe. Like to see one? Let me know in the comments below or by email.
Raspberry Mint Sorbet
- 500 g raspberries (~4 cups) plus a few extra to garnish
- 200 g granulated sugar (~1 cup)
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 5 g mint (about 2 loose tablespoons) plus a few leaves to garnish
- Combine the raspberries and sugar in a large, non-reactive bowl and let stand in the fridge overnight. If you're pressed for time, simply combine the ingredients and let stand on the counter for about 30 minutes.
- Place the fruit/sugar mixture and the remaining ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. If your blender isn't particularly powerful, you might want to pre-mince the mint.
- Pour and press the mixture through a mesh or fine strainer in order to extract most of the seeds (I let a few get through because I like them - use a fairly fine strainer if you don't want any). Discard the seeds.
- Chill the sorbet mixture in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- Add the cold sorbet mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the instructions for your particular ice cream maker.
- Place the finished sorbet in the freezer. For a softer, looser sorbet, leave for about 1 hour. For a firmly frozen sorbet, leave for 4-5 hours or overnight.
- If you want to make granita or you don't have an ice cream maker, you can simply pour the mixture into a large, flat container (something that will give you a large surface area to work with) and place it in the freezer. Remove the mixture from the freezer ever 30 minutes or so and use a fork to fluff and break up the ice crystals. Work quickly and return the mixture to the freezer when you finish. The granita is finished when it's frozen through with small ice crystals and plenty of incorporated air. If you wait too long the mixture freezes solid, you can allow it to melt (partially or completely) and start over.