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Grape Ape November 9, 2010

Posted by Toy Lady in Cooking, Food, random stuff, Review.
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First thing first – Cooking Dot Com asked me to review a product – any product – for a chance to win a gift certificate, so I’m going to tell you about the sorbet I made using our ice cream maker attachment to the stand mixer.

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By the way.  The reason they asked me?

I “Liked” them on Facebook.  Evidently, one can “follow” Cooking Dot Com on Twitter, too, but I don’t go there.

So now that that’s out of the way, we can talk about the real reason we’re here – concord grapes!

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The first thing we did in preparation for this sorbet was to make a simple syrup – equal parts sugar and water, kind of melted together.  We melt the sugar into a syrup to make it easier to dissolve into the cold fruit.  This is a simple matter of heating about a cup and a half of sugar in a cup and a half of water – and since we were heating it, why not infuse a sprig or so of thyme?  Interesting . . .

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You remember how we dealt with the fresh concord grapes last year, right? Well, although I still had some grapes in the freezer, I went ahead and bought more.

What can I say?  I’m a sucker for fresh produce in season.

The only thing is that, although we ran them through the food processor, I still wanted to further process the grapes, so we ran them through the blender as well.

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And then I strained them – there was enough of the purple concord-coloring, and honestly?

When I eat processed grapes, more often than not, the skins get caught in my teeth it’s just gross.  Looks like I don’t own a toothbrush, which I do.

So anyway, I took about a quart of grape pulp, blended it, then strained it with a wire strainer.

Labor intensive?  What, me?  Actually, it really wasn’t that big a deal – not once the initial seed removal was done, anyway.

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Ah, and here you see the vodka secret.

See, here’s the thing.

To make sorbet smooth and creamy, it needs a lot of sugar.

A LOT of sugar – sugar’s like that.  It has “properties” that make it important.

BUT.  But a tablespoon of neutral-tasting vodka will allow us to reduce the sugar somewhat, and, while we still use quite a bit of sugar (and a little booze), we can give the fruit a better chance to shine.  I dunno – alcohol is like magic or something – there’s probably some science-y reason I don’t understand that it can stand in for sugar.

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Don’t get me wrong – we still wind up using about a cup and a half of simple syrup, along with a Tablespoon of vodka.  But the simple syrup is only half sugar (I think) – it’s got water and thyme in it, remember?

What I ended up doing was this – and I’m sure it would work for any fruit – I added the liquor to the grape pulp, then I added the syrup to taste, keeping in mind that we’ll be eating this frozen, which means that all the flavors will be  muted.

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Then I squeezed half a lemon into the mix.  Yes, a naked lemon.  We must have zested that particular lemon and used it for something else.

Even our lemons multi-task.

A little acid, along with a pinch of salt, will almost always make the flavors pop.

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And that was it – time to churn.  The ice cream attachment is kept in the freezer, so it’s always at the ready.  It was a simple matter of dumping the strained, prepared puree into the ice cream maker, and letting it go.

After about 15-20 minutes, the sorbet is considerably thickened, so we remove it to a container and into the freezer to firm up overnight.

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And the next day, we get to really sample it – and it’s delightfully grape-y, with a good hit of herbiness, somewhat sweet, but not so much as to overwhelm the fruit – it’s really, really good.  Maybe a little heavy on the thyme, but not too bad at all.  Next time – less thyme.

And the best part is that, assuming you’re paying attention, you could do an off-the-cuff sorbet from any fruit – and with the ice cream maker bowl in the freezer, your sorbet is ready to go whenever you are.

 

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Comments

1. mazco34 - November 9, 2010

It’s true about any fruit.
I made plum sorbet one summer. It was great.
Except, I didn’t have a fancy ice cream maker. I did mine in a stainless steel bowl, putting it in the freezer and removing just when ice crystals form. Then I stirred the mixture. I repeated 4-5 times and I had a beautiful, smooth, plum sorbet.

Yeah, you can do it like that – and I have (tried). Only I tend to forget about it, then, by the time I remember it, I’ve got a giant fruity ice cube. Which, surprisingly, isn’t as fun as it sounds!

mazco34 - November 9, 2010

That was my cherry sorbet. After peeling and pitting all those cherries, all I had was a rock.

My cherry sorbet taught me that I want to deal with the skins a little better! 😀


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