Its nice and warm in Napa Valley right now.  La Toque Restaurant owner Chef Ken Frank has just the thing to cool you down while enjoying a bit of a treat as well.  Enjoy some fresh sorbet (homemade) today! 

I’ve long been partial to frozen treats and make it part of my job to “test” freshly churned ice cream in the kitchen almost every day. Of all the options from ice cream to gelato, sherbet and frozen custard, none is more refreshing in hot weather than Sorbet, the only one that is fat free by definition. One of my very favorite indulgences in Paris is a scoop of Fraises des Bois from Berthillon on a hot afternoon.

For a while in the 70’s and 80’s, a spectacular plate of a half dozen or more assorted sorbets was all the rage in cutting edge restaurants. Now days if you see them at all, it’s likely 2 little bites as an intermezzo. While that is fine, they deserve a better showcase.

Sorbet and Sherbet are closely related, the difference being Sherbet always contains a small amount of dairy fat, typically a splash of milk. Sorbet is just fruit and sugar; no batter to cook, no dairy and hence no fat. With all the delicious fruit available to us through the summer, it is time to crank out some sorbet.

The simplest of sorbets are made with fresh fruit puree and sugar. Slightly more complicated are those based on a sugar syrup when you’re working with bright flavors such as citrus or passion fruit. Some people add vanilla or other outside which makes no sense to me. The beauty of sorbet is the purity of the fruitin a delicious frozen spoonful.

The best sorbet to start learning with is strawberry, though you can use the same proportions for fresh peach.

Strawberry Sorbet

  • 3 to 4 baskets of very ripe strawberries
  • Approx. 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1 or 2 lemons

Wash and hull the strawberries.  Puree them in a food processor until smooth.  Measure out the puree to determine how much sugar you will need.  The basic “rule” for sorbet is 2/3 cup of sugar for each cup of puree.  Mix in the sugar and add the juice of 1 lemon.  The lemon helps to tone down the sweetness and brings out the real flavor of the berries. Taste, and add more if you prefer. Some are tempted cut back on the sugar.  If you do, bear in mind that the texture will suffer, becoming much harder as you remove sugar from the equation.  Churn in an ice cream machine until thick. Transfer to a pre-chilled bowl and keep in freezer until ready to serve. Bon Appetit