Vegetarian Journal

VRG Home | About VRG | Vegetarian Journal | Books | Vegetarian Nutrition
Subscribe to Journal | Vegetarian Game | Vegetarian Family | Nutshell | VRG-News
Vegetarian Recipes | Travel | What's New | Bulletin Board | Search | Links

Vegetarian Journal July/Aug 1998

Cool! Frosty, Fresh, and Fruity: Fruit Sorbets

by Nancy Berkoff, R.D., Ed.

Check out the recipes!

Legend has it that Roman emperor Nero (you know, that fiddlin' guy) had swift runners bring snow down from the hills, had it topped with fruit juice and wine, and enjoyed it during the hot summer months. Another legend has it that Marco Polo imported a frozen dessert recipe from China back to Italy (gelato, anyone?). And the last legend to be recounted in this article is that the political marriage of France and Italy (Henry II with Catherine de Medici) in the 1500s saw an addition of frozen fruit ice to the French culinary scene. Catherine, along with her jewels and her literature, brought along her technique for making sorbetto.

Nowadays, paupers and princes enjoy that frozen dessert known as sorbet. It's made on street corners and scooped into paper cups and made in elegant kitchens and served on Limoge. For whomever it's made, sorbet is easy to prepare, can be made ahead of time, and consists of easy-to-find ingredients. And sorbet contains nutritious ingredients, namely fruit and fruit juices. Because sorbet ingredients are lightly processed before freezing, much of the nutritive value of the fruit is preserved.

Legitimate sorbets consist only of pureed fruit, a sweetener, and water. Period. However, since there are no food police, we'll take culinary license. Fresh fruit is always a winner; try peaches, plums, apricots, melon, cherries (if you have patience to pit), berries, apples, pears, grapes, or tropical fruit (mangoes, papayas, guavas, etc.). But there is life beyond fruit for sorbet. Try a chai (spiced Indian tea), green tea, or even a latte (coffee with steamed rice or soy milk) sorbet. For some summer fun, follow in Nero's footsteps and freeze some snow in the heat of August, flavor with fruit juice and have an edible (and peaceful) snowball fight. Sorbets can be gussied up with liqueurs and brandies, with fresh mint and lavender, with shaved coconut and chocolate, and with dried fruit and nuts.

Sorbets have traditionally been sweet, but you can make a spicy or savory sorbet by adding chopped herbs or ground spices, such as rosemary, thyme, black pepper, or ginger to a lemon or orange sorbet. Some fruits supply both the flavor and the container for sorbet. For a glamorous sorbet, cut Delicious (red or golden) apples straight across at the top; save the cap and carefully scoop out the insides. Puree the apple pulp and flavor with Calvados (apple liqueur) or with ginger. Fill the apple shells, place the cap back on and freeze. When removed from the freezer and allowed to stand for a moment or two, the apples will glisten and look like a beautiful porcelain replica of an apple. Oranges and lemons make good individual containers, and grapefruit and melons make good group containers. Be sure to wash the exterior well before using.

Sorbets are traditionally made with sugar, but the exchange of sugar for juice, fruit purees, or juice concentrates does not diminish the quality. As a matter of fact, freezing decreases the intensity of sugar's sweetening quality. The addition of extra fruit (as we have done with our recipes) keeps the flavor strong and sweet.

There are two basic techniques for freezing sorbet, churn-freezing or still-freezing. Of course, you could just mix up a batch of sorbet, put it in the freezer and let it go, but the consistency and the texture could be uneven.

Churn-freezing requires an ice-cream maker. In addition to following the manufacturer's directions for using the machine, you'll get good results if you make the sorbet mixture (be sure to refrigerate) a day ahead of time and only fill the machine container two-thirds full (this allows for more incorporation of air, giving a creamy texture).

Still-freezing is a machine-less technique. Put sorbet mixtures in metal pan or in ice-cube trays (metal helps freezing), cover with foil and place in the freezer. Stir occasionally while the mixture is slushy (this reduces the size and number of ice crystals); do this about every half hour until you see the sorbet is well on its way to freezing. At that point allow sorbet to freeze all the way. Both churn- and still-method sorbets will last up to a month if your freezer is working well.

We hope that your sorbet-making will be an excellent experience every time. But just in case of mishaps, here are some trouble-shooting pointers:

Sorbets are a sweet, cool, colorful addition to summer menus. Who needs the local "31 Flavors" when you can capture the flavor of summer in your own kitchen? Have fun and keep cool!


Creamy Lemony Sorbet

(serves 10)
This shimmery dessert is a great change of pace after a spicy meal.

1 cup rice syrup
3 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 quart soy or rice milk (plain, not vanilla or flavored)

Mix all ingredients until well combined and churn- or still-freeze.

Serve as a dessert with fresh berries (as shown, opposite page) or as an accompaniment to granola or cold cereal (makes for a great hot weather breakfast).

Total calories per serving: 144
Fat: 3 grams
Mango Sorbet
(Makes about 2 1/2 cups)

Mango Sorbet

(makes about 2 1/2 cups)
Bright in color, high in fiber and potassium, smooth and luscious serve this as a dessert with fresh, sliced seasonal fruit or instead of a salad with a spicy meal. You'll need an ice cream maker for this one.

2 peeled, seeded and chopped large mangos (about 2 cups)
4 Tablespoons orange juice concentrate
1/4 cup rice syrup

Puree the mangoes until very smooth in a blender. You'll need 1 2/3 cups puree (so you may need a little more or a little less mango). Add concentrate and syrup and blend again until very smooth.

Pour into a large, nonreactive bowl and refrigerate for one hour.

Pour into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions. When completed, place in an airtight container and allow to freeze for at least 8 hours (so the flavor can develop). Will last for 3 days.

Total calories per 1/2 cup serving: 129
Fat: <1 gram

Seasonal Fruit Sorbet

(serves 8)
Save a bit of the season, long after it is gone, with this frozen dessert.
1 cup fresh fruit puree (see note)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 cups water

Combine all ingredients until well mixed. Churn-freeze or still-freeze, as desired.
Note: Use your overripe fruit, such as bananas, peaches, apricots, melon, etc., to make the puree. Just peel the fruit and puree in blender or food processor until smooth. If you are really ambitious and have a lot of elbow grease, you can go nonelectric and push the peeled fruit through a fine strainer to make the puree.

Not for the children: If you'd like to flavor your sorbet with a little liqueur (about 1 tablespoon should do it), wait until the sorbet is almost frozen before adding. Alcohol raises the freezing temperature and will prolong the processing time if added in the beginning.

Total calories per serving (using bananas and peaches): 18
Fat: <1 gram

Banana-berry Sorbet

(Serves 9)
All your overripe bananas don't have to go into banana bread. Remember to set a few aside for this smooth sorbet.

1 1/2 cups crushed fresh berries
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate (thawed)
2 cups pureed bananas
1/2 cup orange juice
1/8 cup lemon juice

Combine berries and concentrate in a large bowl and stir until combined. Add bananas, orange and lemon juice, and mix until smooth.

Place mixture in shallow bowl or pan and freeze until almost firm. Remove from freezer, mix until fluffy, and still-freeze.

Serve garnished with sliced pineapple, mango, or berries.

Note: If you're using frozen rather than fresh berries, be sure to thaw and drain them before crushing.

Total calories per serving (using strawberries): 87
Fat: <1 gram

Fruit-of-the-Vine Sorbet

(Serves 10)
Make your own grape juice with a variety of grapes for this elegant sorbet.

3 cups water
2 cups grape juice concentrate (thawed)
2 cups grape juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup orange juice

Combine water and concentrate in a small pot and cook until a syrup is formed. Cool.

When syrup is cool, add grape juice, lemon juice, and orange juice. Reheat on low flame for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Cool.

When cool, churn- or still-freeze.

Garnish with small bunches of variously-colored grapes.

Total calories per serving: 135
Fat: <1 gram

Sunny Sorbet

(serves 8)
The oranges supply the flavor and the container for this dish.

4 large navel oranges
3/4 cup orange juice concentrate (thawed)
2 cups water
3 teaspoons orange zest
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 cups orange juice (can be from navel oranges)
1/4 cup lemon juice

Cut oranges in half and carefully scoop out insides. Save shells for serving sorbet and juice for later use in recipe.

Combine orange juice concentrate, water, and zests and boil for about five minutes, until slightly thickened. Chill in refrigerator or freezer. When cool, add orange and lemon juice. Fill each orange shell with sorbet and still-freeze.

Garnish with fresh lemon and orange slices or orange marmalade.

Total calories per serving: 82
Fat: <1 gram

Excerpts from the Jul/Aug Issue

The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone wanting to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.

This article was converted to HTML by Jeanie Freeman

VRG Home | About VRG | Vegetarian Journal | Books | Vegetarian Nutrition
Subscribe to Journal | Vegetarian Game | Vegetarian Family | Nutshell | VRG-News
Vegetarian Recipes | Travel | What's New | Bulletin Board | Search | Links

The Vegetarian Resource Group Logo © 1996- The Vegetarian Resource Group
PO Box 1463, Baltimore, MD 21203
(410) 366-8343   Email:

Last Updated
July 6, 1998

Graphic design by DreamBox

The contents of this web site, as with all The Vegetarian Resource Group publications, is not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional.

Any pages on this site may be reproduced for non-commercial use if left intact and with credit given to The Vegetarian Resource Group.

Web site questions or comments? Please email