There is nothing like an ice cold chunk of watermelon on a hot summer day, particularly on the most popular Greek holiday, August 15th. This is the peak of the summer holidays – a time to enjoy a beach-side meal which, no doubt includes a platter of juicy watermelon chunks. Bliss … with the slight downside of those pesky pips.
August 15th is colloquially known as the Panagia. This is the religious holiday of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary: her final “falling asleep” and her soul carried by angels into heaven.
Athens is nearly empty as everyone retreats to the countryside – ideally by the sea, as we did a week ago at Ermioni. But, now I have a big quiet kitchen in Athens in which to experiment. And, after last year’s refreshing watermelon limeade drink served with lots of ice and tonic (and perhaps a tot of gin), I began experimenting to see if I could come up with more ideas along similar lines. Success: pretty in pink, light and refreshing.
A difficult sorbet to make. Watermelon is a fruit made up of almost all water and fruit sugars with very little pulp to help create a creamy sorbet. It is similar to citrus sorbets because of its wateriness, but watermelon fruit is naturally much sweeter with less acidity.
- 500g watermelon purée
- 1 lime
- up to 10g fructose, to taste if needed
- 1 Tablespoon gin, optional
- 230g water
- 155g sugar
- 50g dextrose
- 50g maltodextrin
- 5g stablaliser (xanthan gum or locust bean gum)
Cut and purée the watermelon, passing it though a sieve to remove the pips. Juice your lime and add it to the watermelon. You can optionally add the gin. Alcohol helps to keep ice crystal formation down and produce a smoother sorbet, but don’t be tempted to add too much. If needed, adjust the sweetness by adding fructose to the juiced watermelon mixture. Taste first to make sure you only add enough so that it is not sharp, but highlights the watermelon. Set the mixture aside, keeping it cold.
Weight the other sugars and the stabaliser. Blend together. Set this aside. Warm the water (in microwave or on the stove top) and then add the sugar mixture while whisking. The stabaliser should begin to create a thick gel. Xanthan gum will gel immediately, but the locust bean gum mixture may need to be re-heated until the gel thickens. Cool the mixture.
Add the watermelon mixture to the cooled gel and whisk to blend. Cover and place in the refrigerator until very cold. Blend again with a wand blender. Churn in your ice cream machine as instructed.
When finished, put the sorbet in a container and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours until it firms up (at least 4 hours, but best overnight). To scoop, take it out of the freezer and place it in the refrigerator for about half an hour before serving.