Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Mandarin orange sorbet - without ice-cream machine

Chinese New Year has come and gone, but it left in its wake more mandarin oranges than we could possibly eat.  If like me, you got tired of eating them, why not make them into a nice refreshing sorbet? A mandarin orange sorbet.   After all, sorbet is nothing more than frozen fruit juice with syrup.  Plus with the weather opening in the low 30s and hitting the mid-30s by noon, a sorbet is a delicious non-fat frozen alternative to ice-cream.   You get an almost explosive burst of citrusy mandarin flavour with every spoonful.  Somehow the flavours are concentrated and intensified after the entire freezing process.  Ooohhh....yummers.

isn't it a gorgeous mandarin colour? 
After doing some research, most sorbets are best made with simple syrups.  A simple syrup is made from equal parts water to sugar.  It is the syrup that reduces the freezing point and gives the softer texture to sorbets.  Otherwise you end up with a large crystalline icy texture or worse, a solid ice brick.  I normally make extra syrup as you can keep the balance in the fridge for later use.  Adding a splash of alcohol also gives a less icy texture as alcohol also reduces the freezing point.  As a plus, a shot of vodka gives it an added zing and makes it 'tres adult'.
splash some of your favourite vodka into your sorbet!

As I didn't have an ice-cream machine, I had to do this manually, which although easy enough, took some time as I had to wait for the freezing process to happen.  Do this well ahead of time.  It took a couple of tries to get the texture that I wanted.  The first came out looking like shaved ice (ala ice kacang).  I had forked up the semi-frozen mixture and it stayed that way, like loosely packed snow.  It was soft, not icy at all but the texture was too loose and fluffy.  Then I tried beating it with a whisk until smooth.  This worked better.  I had a more compact mixture and it was still soft textured and not icy.

Trust me, once you've tried making your own sorbet with fresh fruit, there's no going back to the store-bought stuff.  I can't begin to describe the clean mouthfeel you get; none of the artificially flavoured funny mouthfeels you get with commercially sold sorbet. 

No additives, no artificial flavours, 100% real.  To paraphrase, nothing tastes as skinny as a sorbet feels ;D
home-made and guilt-free
Mandarin Orange Sorbet - without ice-cream machine

300ml mandarin orange juice - squeezed from approximately 5 oranges
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp mandarin orange zest
30ml of vodka (optional)

1.  In a pot, bring the water and sugar to a boil to dissolve the sugar.  Boil for about a minute or until the syrup is slightly thickened. 
2.  Stir the orange zest into the syrup.  Leave to infuse and cool the syrup before using.
3.  In a large bowl, pour in the mandarin orange juice and add 1/4 cup of the syrup first. Taste first before adding more syrup.  Adjust the syrup quantity to taste.  This is important!
4.  Add the alcohol in if preferred.
5.  Pour the fruit/syrup/vodka mixture into a shallow pan, preferably glass as this is citrus-based.
6.  Freeze about 2 - 3 hours, or until it comes to a soft set.  The edges should be starting to freeze up, and the center still slushy.  With a fork, scrape the frozen bits towards the center and use a whisk to beat vigorously until you have an icy slush.  Put it back into the freezer and repeat the freeze/beat cycle another 1 to 2 times.
7.  After the final beat, leave in the freezer until fully set before serving.

After a few days in the fridge (assuming it actually stays that long in the freezer), the sorbet gets icier.  Don't fret, just beat it up and freeze it again.
I prefer to use a whisk to beat the sorbet.  Some recipes suggest using a blender, but I ended up with a semi-frozen slush which was difficult to blend.


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