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I’m an all season ice cream eater. It can be cold, rainy, or even snowing and I’m still 100% game to get a giant scoop on a fresh waffle cone. I’m not even biased. I love the full-fat,x rich custards, the Italian gelatos, fro-yo bars, sherbets, and sorbets. But when the summer heat kicks in and I’m literally surrounded by the vibrant colorful summer fruit, it’s hard not to show preference to those flavors. Which was, of course, my exact inspiration for this homemade strawberry sorbet.
Recently, after a slightly overzealous trip to a strawberry u-pick farm, my mom and I loaded the back of my car up with something like 15 pounds of strawberries (possibly more). That’s a lot of berries. Many were frozen for jam making or baked goods, but after researching for my Summer Berries Guide, I knew I wanted to use up some fresh ones while they were in their prime. With just three other, very easy, ingredients and a bit of patience, I had the most vibrantly red, sweet and tangy homemade strawberry sorbet. Abso-fricken-lutely delicious, easily the best I’d ever had.
I’m officially a convert. No more $5 pints for me, thank you! I think after you try this, you’ll hop on the homemade wagon too.
If these ingredients look familiar to you, it’s because they are! Strawberries, fresh lemon juice, water, and white sugar. My Homemade strawberry syrup recipe uses the exact same ones, just in different proportions. This amused me at first, and I pondered making an extra large batch of strawberry syrup and seeing what it would do in my ice cream maker.
I’m glad I didn’t. The proper ratio of sugar is vital in a sorbet to achieve the proper texture when frozen and eaten. Sorbet is basically made up of tiny ice crystals that are suspended in a sugar syrup. The sugar stops it from freezing completely, meaning scoopable, delicious frozen treat. Too much sugar, and you’ve got a soupy mess, too little and you’ve got an ice cube.
So how much sugar do we need? According to Alton Brown, about 30% is the perfect ratio of sugar to liquid. Unfortunately, using whole fruit with its own natural sugars can make this a little difficult. Good news is, I’ve already tested and restested this to find that balance in this recipe! But since my goal is always to encourage you to be adventurous and try new things, if you ever decide to riff on this recipe and try a different fruit, you know how to troubleshoot accordingly, if your sorbet is the wrong texture, adjust your sugar.
Is this the same as Sherbet?
Although it’s also a fruit flavored frozen treat, sherbet is not the same as sorbet. Sherbet contains dairy, which gives it that creamy texture and flavor. It’s like a cross between ice cream and sorbet, while sorbet is just a fruity simple syrup.
Fun fact, it is actually pronounced and spelled sherbet, not sherbert. But that’s a post for another time and another recipe.
Making Homemade Strawberry Sorbet
The process isn’t hard, but it does require a little bit of forethought, and a bit of patience. Sadly, deciding to make sorbet an hour before you want it just isn’t gonna happen. Good news is, most home ice cream churns produce a quart or more, meaning you’ll have enough to last…well until you devour it all.
Making the Sorbet ‘Juice’
Before anything else happens, go put your churn bowl into the freezer according to your manufacturers instructions. For me it’s a 12-16 hour freeze for ideal results.
Now we make the liquid! To begin, get your strawberries washed and hulled. You’ll need 24 ounces of berries. You can easily hull a strawberry with a melon baller, or by carefully running a paring knife in a circle under the green stem. You can also use frozen strawberries, but they must be thawed out first, either by microwaving them until softened or by leaving them in the fridge to thaw naturally over time.
Once your strawberries, either fresh or thawed frozen, are ready. Add them to a blender or food processor with 12 ounces of water. Blend until completely pureed.
Next, you’ll need to strain out the seeds. I use a fine mesh sieve to do this and strain it directly over the saucepan I need for the next step. Once you have strained all the puree, you should have 4 cups of strawberry juice.
Add 7 oz (1 cup) of sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to the pot and place it over medium heat. Heat and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Do not boil or reduce. Just as a suggestion, if you have access to meyer lemons, I’ve used those several times and they’re sooooo good!
Once your sugar is melted you’ll essentially have a sugary strawberry soup. Pour into a airtight container, like a large glass bowl or tupperware with lid. Place in fridge until cool.
Churning your Strawberry Sorbet
Next is the easiest part. Once your strawberry juice has completely cooled in the fridge, and your churn bowl has been in the freezer for the recommended length of time, you’re ready to make sorbet.
Then you add the liquid to the churn according to the manufacturers instructions and wait for it to do it’s job! That’s it!
Do I really need a Churn/Ice Cream Maker?
Yes. I’m sorry to say but yes. I’ve read all sorts of recipes out there that say just freeze it then blend it, or to use the granita method where you freeze it in a shallow dish and break up the ice that forms every hour or so. Those work – but not if you want sorbet to be your end result. An churn does two things:
- Stops the larger ice crystals from forming, breaking them repeatedly as they form to produce small ones. The granita method will not produce the same result.
- Incorporates air which is essential for texture and volume.
If you’re comfortable with a icy, but still delicious, dessert like a granita, then go for it. The sugar ratio may need to be adjusted to allow for a softer end result. But if you want your homemade strawberry sorbet to be creamy and luscious, an ice cream maker is the way to go.
Good news is they aren’t that expensive! This Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker is the one I use, and it’s perfect. 1.5 quart capacity, easy to store and take out as needed, and I like the color. Whatever model you go with, know you’re opening yourself to the freedom of any ice cream you desire for a lot cheaper. They’ll be made of good ingredients, no odd preservatives or gums, and for a lot less money than the premium ice creams available at the store.
The Stages of Churning
My ice cream maker takes between 10 – 15 minutes to churn gorgeous sorbet, yours may take up to 30 minutes or so, depending on the model.
So how do you know when it’s ready? The sorbet will go through several stages, some that look like it could be done, before it actually is.
At first it will stay purely liquid and freeze on the outside where it makes contact with the bowl. The churn will scrape this and fold it inwards. Over and over this process is repeated. It will change color and get thicker. It’s done when you see a smooth, glossy, soft set sorbet.
Freeze and Eat!
Once you have gorgeous silky sorbet all ready to go, simply scrape it out of the churn into freezer safe containers.
I prefer to freeze my ice creams and sorbets in individual or two portion containers. Every time you open the containers, eat some, and put it back, you’re actually allowing those tiny ice crystals to melt and the air to leave. It refreezes with larger ice crystals, meaning a harder sorbet next time.
You may notice that the sorbet you scoop out of the middle is a different texture than the sorbet you scrape from the sides of the bowl. This is normal and perfectly okay. The sorbet stuck to the sides is simply much colder, and so much more solid. When you put it in the freezer it will all firm up just fine. Honestly though, I usually just eat the most frozen stuff right away.
Because my ice cream maker is 1.5 quart capacity, this recipe will yield that much sorbet, or 3 pints. You can reduce or increase the recipe as needed to suit your model.
Whatever you’re not eating then and there, seal up in your containers and pop them in the freezer. They’ll keep for at least a month, if not longer. Honestly anytime I make homemade strawberry sorbet it never lasts long enough for me to know!
How to Soften
As they freeze, you may notice that they get kind of hard and aren’t easy to scoop immediately out of the freezer. Just allow ten minutes or so on the counter to soften up, or if your impatient like I am, give it 20-30 seconds in the microwave.
If this really bothers you and you want softer sorbet, you can add 1 tsp of pectin during the sugar dissolving step and make sure it dissolves and cooks in the liquid for at least 1 minute. This will create a softer sorbet and also a slower melting one. If you don’t have pectin, don’t worry, the microwave works juuuuust fine.
Or, if you have popsicle molds, feel free to pop the churned sorbet into those! They’re the softest, silkiest fruit popsicles I’ve ever had!
That’s it! Homemade Strawberry Sorbet time!
This has very quickly become on of my favorite ice cream maker recipes. It’s so easy that it’s almost ridiculous how good it tastes. There are no corn syrups, no odd ingredients, just pure strawberry, sugar, water, and a splash of lemon for tang. I sincerely hope you give this a try and enjoy it during the months of fresh strawberries. I’m already looking forward to my next sorbet experiments, peach anyone?
- 24 ounces Fresh or frozen strawberries*
- 12 ounces water
- 7 ounces white sugar 1 cup
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp pectin Optional
Place ice cream maker bowl into the freezer according to manufacturer's instructions.
Wash and hull strawberries then place in blender or food processor with the water. Blend until smooth puree. (If using frozen berries, thaw ahead of time.)
Strain puree through fine mesh sieve into a medium saucepan. Push as much liquid through as possible, leaving only seeds and thick pulp behind.
Add sugar and two tablespoons of lemon juice. Place over medium-low heat, and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Once sugar is dissolved add pectin if using, allow to dissolve and allow to cook for 1 minute. Do not allow the mixture to bubble or boil.
Pour into container with lid and refrigerate until completely cool. 2-3 hours minimum.
When the ice cream churn bowl has frozen for the necessary amount of time and liquid is cool, place in ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturers instructions.
When fully frozen (Smooth/glossy) either eat immediately, or scoop out into freezer safe containers and store in freezer until ready to eat. When ready to eat, let sit at room temperature 5-10 minutes to allow to soften.*
My sorbet is not the right color, it’s too pale.
- This could be a result of your ice cream maker and the amount of air the sorbet is exposed to while churning. Air effects the color when trapped in liquids or solids (think cloudy ice cubes). This should not affect flavor.
- Different berries can also affect this, as long as you’ve measured 24 ounces of ripe berries by weight.
My sorbet won’t firm up.
- Your ice cream churn bowl must be frozen for the appropriate amount of time.
- The liquid sorbet must be cold before adding to the frozen ice cream churn bowl.
My ice cream maker keeps jamming when I try to churn my sorbet.
- I found that adding the liquid to the ice cream churn before turning the churn on made it difficult to get going, despite the instructions of my manual. Instead, turning your machine on and ladling the liquid in worked much more smoothly.