A crash course in ice cream making

There’s more than ice cream that you can make, though. Sorbets are fun, too.

Essentially, sorbets are a frozen dessert made from fruit and sugar, and you can control the amount of sugar or replace it with fructose if you’re particular sensitive to the stuff. You’ll need a blender or a stick-mixer to make one of these, as well as some bowls and spoons, and a cup or measuring cup.

We’ll start with a basic that’s good to eat on a hot day: rockmelon sorbet (or cantaloupe sorbet, if you’re browsing from America).

Rockmelon sorbet is a good example of an easy sorbet to make because it’s literally fruit mixed with sugar, and then churned in an ice cream maker on a sorbet or gelato setting.

To make this, grab half a rockmelon and scoop out all those lovely insides, storing them in a bowl. When you’ve removed that sweet orange flesh from the rockmelon, grab your blender or stick-mixer and turn the scooped out orange flesh into a pulpy liquid. A blender seems the easiest from our point of view, but lacking one at work, the stick-mixer worked a treat.

Once you have that pulpy liquid, it’s time to add your sugar. Some people add glucose syrup, but I’ve found it’s just as easy to use caster sugar being it’s small enough to be absorbed by the liquid with either a stick-mixer or a blender.

In the rockmelon sorbet, I use half a cup of sugar, though it’s totally down to what your tastes are like. It’s good to remember that even though a sorbet or ice cream can taste sweet, the freezing process will dull that sugar intensity a little, so if you add too much sugar, you can either hope the freezing process dulls it a touch, or blend in a little water to even out the flavour.

For the one litre tub of the Breville Smart Scoop that we reviewed, half a cup seemed to make sense.

Now with sugar blended into your liquid and pulpy rockmelon mixture, it’s time to churn, so grab that ice cream maker, switch it on, pour the liquid in, and go away for a while.

When you come back, there should be rockmelon sorbet waiting for you. Yum yum.

Sorbets can be playful, though, and in the past few years, our experiments with sorbet have come from some of the drinks we’ve seen. One of the flavours has been very popular not just at work, but at the dinner parties this writer has thrown, and that’s one based on Rekorderlig’s Strawberry and Lime cider.

So here’s my (Leigh’s) recipe for strawberry and lime sorbet.

You’ll need two punnets of strawberries, two limes, half a cup of caster sugar, and a blender or stick-mixer.

Grab the strawberries, remove their greens, cut them up into pieces, and throw these pieces into a blender or bowl for use with a stick-mixer. Now blend, and make sure you turn this into a very strawberry liquid pulpy mixture.

Now cut your limes into halves, and squirt the juice of the limes into the liquid mixture you just made. If you’re not getting all the juice out, grab a fork and shove this inside the lime flesh, forcing out every last bit of juice.

Blend/stick-mix again, and make sure it’s in there. You might find one lime suits you better, though I generally work by the logic of one lime per punnet of strawberries. It’s like making other food, so make sure to season to your tastes.

Now grab your half cup of caster sugar and pour it in, blending/stick-mixing immediately after, making sure the sugar doesn’t form in clumps and blends nicely with the liquid mixture.

You can taste it and see if it evens out, and one way of working with this is to add the juice of one lime, add the sugar, and then see how sweet it is. If it needs to be more tangy, add that second lime.

Lime is like the MSG of fruit. It’s essentially a flavour enhancer for fruit, and while if you add too much the end result will be tangy, if you add a small amount — basically a squirt or two — the fruity mixture you’re making will come alive. In this sorbet, it’s a primary ingredient, but it doesn’t need to be in other sorbets, and if you’re making a fruit sorbet and you want the flavour to have more punch, squirt a bit of lime in.

Once your mixture of strawberries, lime, and sugar is made, you’re ready to churn, so grab that ice cream maker, set it up, turn it on, and churn your strawberry and lime mixture so that in 30 or 40 minutes, you have a tangy and not-so-bad-for-you sorbet. Easy.

Sorbets are easy like this, because essentially it’s just fruit and sugar, and you can always experiment yourself.

Books are also a great source of inspiration, not just because there are some excellent ice cream and dessert chefs out there (paging Messina), but also because they provide a starting point. You might find an excellent sorbet or gelato in a book, but feel it needs a little tweaking, so you can go for your life.

One of the best books to check out (in this writer’s opinion) though is the “Ben & Jerry Ice Cream and Dessert Book” by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield (the “Ben & Jerry” in the company name). It’s relatively inexpensive, nicely printed, and has some of the tastiest recipes out there, with many of the flavours found in the stores available for recreation via recipe in the book.

Another favourite of this writer is “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home” by “Jeni Britton Bauer, a title from America that boasts some unusual flavours such as baked rhubarb frozen yoghurt, toasted rice ice cream, lime cardamom frozen yoghurt, and many others. The recipes are often playful, and provide inspiration for making others.

And if you get really curious about which flavours work with what, “The Flavour Thesaurus” by Niki Segnit provides a way to work out which fruits and spices work with what. Once you have that perfect cream base in ice cream, these flavour combinations will allow you to really be playful, while the fruit and veggies can be made into liquid pulpy mixtures for sorbets without any extra help.

Regardless of what you end up producing, make sure it’s tasty. That seems to be the one prerequisite for churning a successful ice cream.

Inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes. If you're making ice cream, froyo, or sorbets, you'll find a lot of inspiration in these books.