Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Strawberry Sherbet

     The Best Tasting Strawberry Sherbet!
     I usually do not purchase frozen fruits or vegetables, but I could not resist a bargain while breezing down the grocery store aisle.  One pound bags of frozen whole strawberries were on sale for about 75¢.  So, I purchased a bag and the thinking process took off in the direction of making strawberry ice cream.
     Chain restaurants often serve canned frozen crushed strawberries as a dessert sauce and many bars use this product to make Strawberry Daiquiris.  Those are the only ways that I have seen frozen strawberries used in the past.
     Other than what low budget restaurant and bars use frozen strawberries for, I figured that making a frozen dessert or a dessert sauce was all that frozen strawberries were good for.  Since making sundries involves freezing, it really does not matter whether the fruit is fresh or frozen.
     The only question that comes to mind is quality.  Fresh strawberries taste semi sweet and a little bit tart.  Frozen strawberries taste more tart than sweet, because they are harvested just before the fruit is fully rip and the carbohydrates have not all converted to fructose.
     Since the flavor of frozen strawberries are tart, go with it!  Making sorbet or sherbet is a better choice than making ice cream, when the strawberries are tart.  Sugar acts as an antifreeze or liquefier that prevents sorbet and sherbet from turning into a block of ice after the product is stored in a freezer.  Sorbet and sherbet require about 22% to 30% sugar.  The high sugar content range leaves plenty of room to balance the tart frozen strawberry flavor.

     What is sherbet?  This is a question that many folks really do not know, even though they have eaten sherbet their entire life.  Sherbet is a sorbet that has a small amount milk or cream added to it.  When milk is added to sorbet, the measurement of sugar has to be increased to compensate for the extra liquid, so the sherbet does not turn into ice when it is frozen.
    Sorbet and sherbet require no stabilizers, like gelatin, pectin, corn starch, gum or egg yolks (crème anglaise).  However, sherbet does benefit from a clear stabilizer like gum, gelatin or pectin.  Pectin is the best choice, because it reacts with sugar and fruit in a unique way.  Pectin thickens a hot fruit puree and it helps to preserve the color of the fruit.  Pectin stabilizes a sherbet, so the texture of the sherbet turns out perfectly smooth and creamy.
     The reason why I used pectin to stabilize the hot strawberry and sugar puree was because when I looked at photos in sorbet recipes on the internet, few of them looked smooth.  Most looked rather coarse and unprofessional.  Professional pastry chefs often use Arabic Gum or Acacia Gum to stabilize an acidic fruit sherbet, so the finished product looks smooth and perfect.  Pectin accomplishes the same thing.
     Pectin is made from apples and onions.  Basically, if only enough pectin is added to the hot fruit puree to create a very thin French Gelée, the finished sherbet will be stable and smooth.  The French culinary word Gelée means "in suspension or to keep in suspension."  A small proportion of pectin serves this purpose.    

     Strawberry Sherbet:  
     • This recipe yields 2 1/2 cups of sherbet puree.  After churning in an ice cream machine, the volume increases, so expect a yield of about 3 1/4 cups of finished strawberry sherbet!
     • This sherbet has a very intense strawberry flavor, because the proportion of milk was kept small!
     • I use a Brevard Stainless Steel Ice Cream Machine that has a 3 1/2 cup liquid capacity.  This machine has digital controls and it is automated.  When making today's strawberry sherbet, set hardness control to the firmest sorbet setting on the machine.  This churning range is just a little less than the setting that is used to make gelato. 
     • Powdered Pectin Stabilizes the fruit puree.  Every brand of powdered pectin varies in strength.  Only a small amount of pectin is needed to turn the strawberry puree into a very thin gelée.  The thickened strawberry gelée should be the consistency of a thin pourable dessert sauce.   
     Step 1:  Place 16 ounces of frozen whole strawberries in a stainless steel sauce pot.
     Add 1/2 cup water.  (4 ounces)
     Add 6.75 ounces granulated sugar.
     Add 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of powdered pectin.
     *Depending on the brand of pectin, the amount may vary.  The goal is to thicken the finished pureed strawberry mixture to a very thin dessert sauce consistency.
     Step 2:  Place the pot over medium heat.
     Bring the liquid to a gentle boil while stirring with a whisk.
     Step 3:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer for a few minutes, while stirring till the strawberries become soft.
     Step 4:  Remove the pot from the heat.
     Use an electric blending wand, food processor or blender to puree the strawberry mixture.
     Step 5:  *This step will cause the aerated puree to lose the air bubbles and the puree will return to a natural red color.
     Return the strawberry puree to the sauce pot.
     Bring the puree to a gentle simmer over medium low heat, while stirring with a whisk.
     Step 6:  Take the pot off the heat.
     Pour the puree into a container.
     Chill the puree in a refrigerator, till it reaches a temperature of about 45ºF to 50ºF.
    *The puree should thicken to a very thin dessert sauce consistency and the bits of strawberry should remain in suspension.  
     Step 7:  Add 4 ounces of milk while whisking.
     Pour the strawberry sherbet puree through a fine mesh strainer into a container.
     *The yield should be about 2 1/2 cups after straining.  This amount is small enough to fit in a small batch ice cream machine drum. 
     Chill the strawberry sherbet puree to 41ºF in a refrigerator.
     Step 8:  Pre-cool a small batch ice cream machine.  (Brevard is the best!)
     Set the churn time setting to the firmest sorbet range.
     Pour the sherbet mixture in the ice cream drum and assemble the churn.
     Press the start button and let the ice cream machine do the rest of the work!
     Step 9:  When the strawberry sherbet finishes, pack it into a container.
     Freeze the strawberry sherbet for 6 hours, so the sherbet hardens and the flavors mellow.
     Step 10:  Serve up a few scoops to guests and watch the smiles grow from ear to ear!

     Viola!  An intense tasting smooth strawberry sherbet that will please any sherbet fan!

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