Finally Sorbet

Many of you who have been following my blog will be aware of my quest to find easy good recipes for gelatos where all of the ingredients are easily obtainable. That said, one difficulty I will soon face lies in the fact that I (and my ice cream machine) will be relocating to a Mediterranean country where fresh fat-heavy cream will undoubtedly be expensive and possibly even difficult to source. So, all those lovely gelato and ice cream recipes out there that use cream might well be beyond my reach. I have a few options: see how yoghurt, evaporated milk or UHT cream will work in place of fresh cream or experiment will all-milk gelatos. Sweetened condensed milk works well and is often recommended in no-churn ice creams (which I’ve tried with strawberry ice cream before I got my lovely ice cream machine). But to my mind, condensed milk produces an excessively rich ice cream (with lots of fat and calories) and I much prefer lighter gelatos which highlight the flavourings rather than the dairy.

Cutting down on dairy, American style sherberts are another option as these often contain only a little milk. Other non-lactose “creamy” sources such as almond or coconut milk/cream are viable alternatives. I can also expand my reperitoire of sorbets and those beautiful smooth Sicilian-style granitas that do not require dairy at all. So, despite the dearth of fresh cream in my future, there are quite a few options here to explore. Probably healthier, too!

In fact, only last month I explored the use of a sweet wine in producing a flavour-packed cool strawberry-rosé granita. Definitely on the list to do again (and again). But, I felt I needed to try my hand at making a smooth sorbet. I thought to use the fairly old technique of including Italian meringue as a stabiliser. The blog, The Ice Cream Nation has an interesting article on the use meringue in sorbet-making, for those of you interested in the science of iced desserts. Now…it is finally time to conquer that sorbet!


Black Currant Sorbet
Although I use black currants here, the recipe might (theoretically!) be adapted to many other tart berries. Bear in mind, however, that black currants are fairly high in pectin which also acts as a stabaliser, so any fruit you substitute should also be high in pectin. I will need to experiment with other berries and report back.

  • 400g fresh or frozen black currants
  • 400ml water
  • 50g sugar
  • 80ml (approximately 1/3 cup) golden syrup or corn syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon lemocello or cassis, optional (but really good!)
  • 40g Italian meringue (approximately 1/5 of the recipe below)

First make the Italian meringue (described below).

If using frozen berries, defrost first. Crush or purée the berries in a food processor. Sieve to extract the juice and pulp. It should make approximately 300ml (about 1-1/4 cups). Add the lemoncello or cassis and set aside while you make a simple syrup.

In a saucepan on medium-low heat, combine the sugar, syrup and water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Let it cool and then mix with the fruit juice/pulp. Churn in your ice cream machine until it becomes slushy, but still a little loose.


Add the Italian meringue in this last section of churning and allow it to become blended with the sorbet (about 5 minutes, 10 minutes at most). It lightens the colour of the sorbet and provides that stabiliser for a smooth finished product, but does not take away from the vibrant fruit flavour. However, do not be tempted to add more meringue or the texture and taste of the sorbet will change.


Store in the freezer to firm up (at least 4 hours). When serving, take out of the freezer and let it sit for about 5 to 10 minutes before scooping.


* * *

Italian Meringue
This makes more than you will need for the sorbet, but it can be divided and frozen for future sorbet making. It can also be used to make excellent baked meringue shells for pavlovas or to top pies and tarts.

  • 60ml (about 1/4 cup) water
  • 135g (a little more than 1/2 cup) caster sugar
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 4 egg whites (from large eggs)
  • 1 additional Tablespoon sugar

Make a syrup by combining the water, sugar and lemon juice in a pan. Bring to a boil on medium heat and let it continue boiling until it reaches the “hard ball” stage (122 degrees C / 251 degrees F). Stir frequently and be careful that it does not boil down or burn, as it has a tendency to caramelise as it reaches those high temperatures. To test (if you do not have a candy thermometer) that it has reached the correct state, drop a small amount into a ramikin filled with cold water. It should produce a hard candy-like droplet.


While the syrup is boiling, prepare the egg whites by putting them into an electric mixer or food processor. Just before the syrup reaches the “hard ball” stage, whisk the egg whites with the additional Tablespoon of sugar.

When they have become foamy, reduce the speed of the mixer/processor and slowly drizzle in the HOT syrup, taking care not to burn yourself. When all of the syrup has been incorporated, turn the speed back up for about 10 to 15 minutes.


The mixture should have cooled. Italian meringues are cooked egg whites. When the hot sugar syrup is whipped with the egg whites, it cooks at the same time, avoiding the concern over using raw egg whites. It also produces a stiffer meringue.

Measure out what you will need for your sorbet. Freeze the remainder.


  1. Thought of you and sorbet making yesterday Debi. I was thinning out my cookbook collection and got side tracked browsing through “Chez Panisse Desserts” there are loads of simple fruit based sherbet, sorbet and ice cream recipes made with mainstream ingredients in it I’ve previously ignored.. It was deemed a keeper! Your berry sorbet looks and sounds delicious and the meringue Italienne looks as if it really helps the texture


    • You had me racing to my cookbook shelf to check The Chez Panisse Dessert book. Groan. Another one for the pile to take to Athens – no kindle edition available. Italian meringue really does transform the sorbet texture. The high pectin fruit helps, too. Made raspberry sorbet the same way, but the texture wasn’t as good. Will need to investigate other methods of stabilising. How is the packing going?


      • Finished sorting through the cupboards today, took a big load to the charity shop. We’ve had the painter here, he finished inside today and will start outside tomorrow weather permitting. We’ve decided to get the removalist to do the lot, but meanwhile we have to restore our world to home beautiful to tempt a high quality, high paying tenant. The furniture will go Sept 1. We’ll probably spend August twiddling our thumbs. How about you, must be hard to decide what to take, what to leave….

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        • No furniture removal, thank goodness. The bulk will be the bane of academic life – books. For me, just a few odd academic ones that I would like in my new study, but more cookbooks that are not available on kindle. Many more books for my husband. Don’t know why, really, as we will be sitting on top of a fantastic library (with access 24/7) with an even bigger and better one right next door. Personal things (including kitchen items) for our living space. Everything else stays here where our son will remain in residence. We were advised that there is really too much to do to get a property this size up to scratch for renting, so not even worth contemplating. I guess you are experiencing that now!

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  2. Lovely! What country doesn’t have heavy cream? I am curious! We had wonderful cream and cheese and yoghurt in the Mediterranean countries I visited and lived in, so I hope you can find some too. I once tried making lemon and buttermilk sherbet and loved the flavor. But I do think sorbet is a great option! Lovely recipe!


    • Greece. There is cream, but it is very expensive, often imported although there are large dairy farms in the north of the country. Yoghurt is more the norm. And now that I have been experimenting, I think I prefer the sorbets – more fruit taste. The buttermilk- lemon sherbert sounds interesting. Did you post it? Must look out for it. We have lemon trees on the property.


      • No I haven’t posted it, as I don’t own an ice-cream maker, and it wasn’t as perfect as it could have been. But the flavor combination was great!

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  3. This sorbet look fantastic Debi and I have both frozen blackcurrants and my homemade cassis 🙂
    For your future experimenting in Greece, I can say that coconut milk can make a lovely icecream with things like mango or pineapple, or you could perfect frozen yoghurt…


    • I haven’t tried coconut milk yet, but it is on the list. Have you made ice creams with homemade coconut milk (made by infusing desiccated coconut) or do you buy the tins of milk? Also on the list to try is homemade almond milk – which makes a brilliant granita just on its own with a little sweetener. Have now tried frozen yoghurt – so, so easy! Will post on it anon.


      • Only the tinned coconut milk, but we can get quite good Malaysian stuff that is pure coconut with no thickeners etc, and I’ve tried making almond milk once or twice but you have to plan what to do with the ground almonds as I hate wasting them 🙂

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  4. Hi Debi, That looks lovely. I don’t know why my icrecream machine lives in the cupboard. Maybe it should see the light of day.


    • When I got my i e cream machine, there was no room in any cupboard, so it lives on the piano bench in the living room, reminding me that it is there every time I walk into the room. However, am not so fussed as it will soon be backed and on its way to Athens where there will be space for it! Maybe it is time to get yours out (well, once your weather turns warmer…).

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  5. My brilliant gelatiere in Lucca makes delicious fruit gelato (technically sorbet) that has a very creamy texture with no milk, no cream and no egg whites. None of the gelaterie I frequent use milk or milk products in fruit flavours. Before heading to Greece, you should come take a lesson from Mirko. He loves to teach and I often take my clients to him for a gelato workshop.


    • Heather – I wish I could stop by Garfagnana, but time is ticking and we are due in Athens mid-September. Perhaps next year? I will certainly keep this in mind as I flounder more than I would wish. Instruction from a master might just be what I need. Is gelato making something you will add to your fabulous list of foodie attractions? Wouldn’t mind a lesson in bread making either as I still remember the wonderful potato bread we had there.


      • Gelato lessons are already on my list, as are bread lessons. My baker and gelatiere (he says this is a more professional name than the mere gelataio) would welcome someone with your interest and knowledge. I find it’s almost always better to learn from a master than a book. There’s so much you can’t put into words. Or you forget to put into words. After visits to two cheesemakers, one of the participants on my cheese course, a cheesemaker herself, exclaimed: ‘They give you permission to make cheese!’ And believing you can do it, somehow makes it so much easier.

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  6. Great recipe Debi and interesting technique. I have an ancient icecream maker which needed a spare part and fortunately, Alberto found the bit in Pavia and brought it to me, so keen to get it up and running when the weather warms up. Keep those icecream recipes coming. I am sure Greece will provide ingredients and further inspiration, despite the economic chaos there.

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    • Glad you were able to get a spare part! Heather (at Sapori e Saperi travel) has suggest a lesson or two from her gelatiere in Lucca. May take her up on this suggestion sometime next year. As in many things, learning on the spot from a master is often the best thing you can do. Meanwhile…the experiments roll on. Looking forward to all the lovely produce available in Greece.

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    • The sorbet was pretty pinky-purple. Wait until you see the red gooseberry offering! More pink, but this time a pale colour. Need to do something with all the fruit coming in from. the garden… No jam making for me this year as it would just sit on the shelf here in the UK.

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    • I was surprised, too. The technique made the sorbet smoother. However, I tried it with raspberries which are juicier and lower in pectin than black currants. Not the same texture results – not as smooth and a bit harder. So it has to be a combination of things.


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