Other people’s recipes: Serious Eats’ plum sorbet

A week ago, @SeriousEats tweeted:

The article by Max Falkowitz included several tips and techniques for making a sorbet that’s neither too icy nor too sweet, and provided several fully-worked recipes, including one for plum sorbet. I had a quart of luscious organic black plums that I was working my way through, and I favorited the article so I could come back to it when I had time.

On Saturday, I went to the store and found that the yummy black plums were still available, so I decided to proceed with the plum sorbet recipe (which, as it turns out, was actually from August, 2012). In addition to the fresh plums, all I needed was some sugar, some corn syrup, and a lemon. (The plum sorbet recipe was one of the few recipes linked from that article that didn’t call for some sort of alcohol. While I understand the physics of it, that doesn’t make me as a non-imbiber any more likely to have such things on hand just to make a recipe calling for a tablespoon of something.)

After coring and quartering the two pounds of plums, I pureed then in the food processor according to the directions, although they came close to overflowing the work bowl. The recipe calls for straining the puree, which took some time and a bit of agitation (and I actually ran the puree through the fine disc on my food mill in addition to the fine mesh strainer to make sure that all of the goodness was extracted). The resulting sweet liquid must then be chilled in the refrigerator in preparation for churning.

My churn is of the non-refrigerated type, depending on a work bowl with a phase-change core that must be pre-frozen; I just store it in the freezer so it’s always ready — and since I hadn’t used it in a couple years at least, it did not require any additional preparation. In this type of churn, the bowl must be set on the churn and the motor running before adding the ice-cream base, or in this case the flavored sugar syrup that will become sorbet. (That unfortunately meant that my choice of a ceramic bowl to chill the liquid was suboptimal, and a few tablespoons of bright red liquid ran down the outside of the churn and onto the counter below. Maybe next time I’ll remember to use a vessel with a pouring spout.) In my churn it takes between 20 and 30 minutes to freeze a quart of frozen dessert, and it was only when I got halfway through the process that I remembered I was supposed to be taking pictures.

Photo of half-frozen sorbet, looking through the clear plastic cover of the ice-cream churn

Halfway through the churning process, the sorbet has a thick and granular but still soupy consistency. After about ten minutes more churning, the sorbet has a thick, smooth, glossy texture that looks more like a gel (which is what a sorbet actually is) than soup:
Photo of nearly complete sorbet in the churn

Nearly all frozen desserts require a few hours of hardening before they are ready for serving. Here I’ve transferred the sorbet from the churn to a plastic container, so I can clean the various parts of the churn and re-freeze the phase-change core for a future batch.
Plum sorbet, ready for hardening

The recipe makes about a quart, which is eight half-cup servings. I think this is about a half a cup, but in all honesty I didn’t measure it. Although it did harden in the freezer for a few hours, it was still not quite solid yet; it should be totally ready by Sunday.
Plum sorbet, ready to serve

So now it’s Sunday, and it did firm up quite nicely. If I have one criticism, it’s that I’m not sure I could identify it as actually being plum-flavored. The flavor of a plum per se (as opposed to the flavor of the sugar and the fruit acids) is quite subtle, and I’m not convinced that it survives the freezing process (not to mention the addition of so much sugar). But the weather forecast is looking warm all this week, so I’ll probably continue to have my sorbet every day until it’s gone. Next time I might try Serious Eats’ tart lemon sorbet recipe from 2012. (I also have an ice-cream cookbook that my parents bought back in the early 1980s along with our White Mountain hand-cranked churn, which also has some sorbet recipes in addition to all four styles of ice cream.)


Warning: the nutrition calculations below are based on using the entire plum, which does not account for losses during straining, and thus overstate the amount of fiber and likely other nutrients in a serving.

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: ½ cup (120 mL)
Servings per container: about 8
Amount per serving
Calories 164 Calories from fat 0
% Daily Value
Total Fat 0g
 Saturated Fat 0g
 Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 2mg 0%
Potassium 201mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 42g 14%
 Dietary fiber 2g 8%
 Sugars 39g
Proteins 1g 2%
Vitamin A 9%
Vitamin C 20%
Calcium 1%
Iron 1%
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