Monday, March 16, 2009

You Say Sorbet, I Say Sorbetto (i)

Sorbetto, Italian for sorbet (plural sorbetti), comes from the Arabic word charbet, which was simply and originally associated with the iced fruit drinks of the Middle East. I know, I know, quite fascinating, and I'm glad the WIKI wasn't around when I was in school, otherwise I would have never learned how to plagiarize from other sources. Only kidding - but really, isn't it way too easy now?

Some people think that sherbet is sorbet, but it's not...sherbet, at least here in the USA, has to have some dairy in it (there's that damn Wiki again), and I don't know about you, but I like my sorbet with nothing but fruit, sugar, water and booze in it. Can't put too much booze in it though, or it won't be sorbet - it'll be slush, because too much booze works like does too much sugar. Man, who knew sorbet could be so scientific?

By the way, there's also granita, but that'll have to wait, 'cause this weekend I decided to say hello to my little friend, the Gelato by Lello.

Now, she's (he's?) a fine machine, capable of making quart after quart of delicious sorbetto, gelato or even sherbet, but really, who the hell makes sherbet? With a self-contained freezer, and weighing in at around 30 pounds, Gelato has a permanent home on one of my countertops...mainly because there's no way I'm schlepping that thing in and out of a closet. She (he) used to sit up on top of a cabinet along with my rarely used Omega juicer (don't ask, but for a while I thought I was gonna be like Jack LaLanne merrily juicing away, and Significant Eater, amongst others, gets quite a laugh from that). But for now, the countertop it is, right between the toaster oven and, ummm, a different juicer.

Anyway, while summer is a great time to make gelati, what with all the local fruit at peak ripeness, winter is a great time for sorbetti, especially since we're quite partial to citrus and since citrus goes so well with booze. This weekend Ms. (Mr.) Gelato made us lime/rum sorbetto as well as grapefruit/campari, which is truly our favorite. Tart and bitter, just like Significant Eater and me.

Generally, for each cup of liquid or puréed fruit, expect to use around 1/2 cup of sugar. (I say around, because who the hell knows how this all works - you gotta experiment...and buy a good book...David Leibovitz wrote The Perfect Scoop, and lots of people swear by it.) Add a tablespoonful of alcohol per cup, but no more; remember alcohol is anti-freeze; too much and you'll be sucking your sorbetto up with a straw. Also, fruits vary greatly in their sugar content - mangoes and oranges check in at around 10% sugar, whereas lemons and limes are about 1 to 2%. You see, I told you this was like science.

The limes are simply juiced. 1/2 cup of juice, 1 1/2 cups of water, 1 cup of sugar, 2 T rum, blender - done. Into the fridge to chill overnight. The grapefruits I actually cut into supremes, which is a pain in the ass French method of cutting the segments out of the fruit without any of the pith or the white, bitter stuff getting involved. Tip of the day - do this with room temperature fruit, or your hands will freeze and a lot of cursing will ensue. So, 2 large grapefruits, cut into supremes, all the juicy stuff squeezed out of what's left over, 1/2 cup water, around 1 cup of sugar, 2 T campari. Oh yeah, about a teaspoon of the grapefruit zest, finely grated. Don't forget to wash the fruit first, so your sorbetto isn't full of whatever the hell it is they spray on the grapefruit. Into the blender and then the fridge. This is what the bases look like...I put the fruit on top, so you'll know which is which.

The next morning, out she (he) comes, and in less than 30 minutes, here's what you get...

Doesn't look like much, does it. Scrape it out into a couple of 1 quart containers (go ahead, taste it, it's damn good) and into the freezer to ripen. That's what they call it - don't ask me. I mean, you can eat it right away, but if you're having a party or something that night, it's best to wait. Put your bowls or whatever you're serving the stuff in into the freezer and really impress your guests. I even do it just for SE and me. A scoop of each is the perfect end to a meal. I'm not the greatest scooper in the world (even though I have like 7 different scoops), but both sorbetti came out smooth and delicious.


  1. Ahhh, Sam, it's simply my Orange-x...not as fancy as yours, but does the job nicely. Only for citrus, as you know...and I would use the Omega more, but it's a pain in the ass to clean.

  2. Our citrus "juicer" is this soda-fountain style hand-crank from the 50's. I feel like it may fall to pieces everytime I use it, but it squeezes the hell out of a grapefruit.

  3. I have a Champion juicer sitting in the corner of a cabinet--it hasn't seen the light of day since about a week after we bought it and the 25 pound bag of carrots to go with it.

  4. Rebecca - those are very cool...mine kinda feels like it's falling apart as well.

    Christine - the Champion is nice - it must be the one with the long neck that spits out the pulp. That's the one I should've bought - it would look really good on the top of my cabinet.

  5. i pull out my champion out from the top of the closet once in a while and juice up some carrots, beets and celery. i get maybe 2 full glasses of delicious juice. butt, then i have to clean out the basket. that takes 2 lifetimes. i put the juicer away and then wait about 9 months before it sees the light of day again. that said your sorbetto looks amazing.

    i thought when you put to much alcohol you call it a margarita or a daiquiri.

  6. Your gelato maker has a self contained freezer?? Now, that's cool. No more dedicated shelf space in the freezer, I like that.
    Actually, now that you mention booze..I'm in the mood for a real Venetian style sorbetto, the kind with prosecco and lemon sorbet. Which makes me hungry for fish because all the Italian seafood restaurants serve sorbetto... see what you started??

  7. the liquor store across the street (e. 86th wine and liquors) has prosecco on sale for $11 a bottle.

  8. Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u

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