When local summer berries barrel into our markets, they need to be dealt with right away.
Sorbets and granitas capture the just-picked sun-kissed flavor in icy, bracing, refreshing treats. The recipe requires nothing more than a food processor and freezer, no need to prewarm the oven or even turn on a burner. An ice cream maker is a handy tool, but you really don’t need one. A shallow pan and time do the work (about two to six hours and you’re done).
The difference between granita and sorbet is the texture. Sorbets are either churned or stirred as they freeze, resulting in a smoother texture. Granitas are scraped repeatedly during the freezing process to loosen their structure into icy flakes. Either way, both of these recipes require high-quality, very fresh fruit.
The basic method below was inspired by “The London River Cafe Cookbook,” by Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray. To speed up the task of simmering lemon juice and sugar into a simple syrup, a whole lemon is puréed with sugar in a food processor to become lemony slush. The berries are then pulsed into the lemon mix, poured into a lined pan and popped into the freezer. That’s it.
You can be as adventurous as you like with these frozen treats. Substitute honey, maple syrup or agave for the sugar; add in a pinch of red pepper flakes or freshly ground black pepper for heat, try a shot of balsamic vinegar for oomph.
If you’d like something smoother, stir a few tablespoons of Greek yogurt, sour cream or mascarpone to the mixture before freezing. Light and vibrant, sorbet and granitas are the best of summer in a glorious scoop.
Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.
Any Berry Sorbet or Granita
Makes about 1 1/2 quarts.
Note: Icy and bracing, these treats are just the thing for a hot summer day. Don’t be put off by the use of a whole lemon, as its tartness balances the ripe sweet fruit. From Beth Dooley.
• 1 small whole lemon, seeded and chopped
• 1 3/4 to 2 c. sugar
• 2 lb. (about 6 c.) berries (either one or several varieties, from Juneberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries)
• Additional lemon juice to taste
• Cold water, as needed
In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse together the lemon and sugar until puréed. Place in a bowl.
Add the berries to the food processor and purée, then pulse back in the lemon mixture until thoroughly combined. Taste and add more lemon juice and sugar if desired. If the mixture seems too thick, add a little water.
To make sorbet: If you have an ice cream machine, pour the mixture into it and churn until frozen.
If not using an ice cream machine, line a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with plastic wrap. Pour the berry mixture into the pan and freeze. Stir the mixture 2 or 3 times over 2 hours until it has reached the desired consistency. If it becomes too hard, remove and allow it to temper at room temperature.
To make granita: Line a 9- by 13-inch baking pan with plastic wrap. If the berry mixture is very dense, thin it out with about 1/4 cup water, then place it into the pan and freeze until it becomes icy around the edges, about 20 minutes. Using a fork, stir the icy portions into the middle of the pan. Continue freezing, stirring about every 30 minutes until the mixture is relatively solid, about 1 to 2 hours. Cover tightly and freeze. To serve, scrape the granita into bowls.