Every summer, lavender and lemon verbena shine in pots on my front deck, along with all types of mint, which find their way into dishes, both sweet and savory. Sun-warmed strawberries have also been making an appearance this time of year. At the South Anchorage market, fanatics line up ahead of time for the limited harvest of sweet, juicy, floral berries. Admittedly, I’ve become addicted as well. Aside from adding them to salads, tucking them into open-faced galettes, and pairing with gochujang to glaze seafood, a simple sorbet is one of my favorite ways to feature ripe, summer fruit.
Although sorbet is just as easy, if not easier, to make than ice cream, it can be a little less forgiving in that there’s no fat or egg to help with structure, so as much as I always err on the side of less sugar/sugarless, here, it is an important element to help maintain a certain semblance of creaminess. An easy rule of thumb is to shoot for four to five cups puréed fruit to one cup sugar. And for extra creamy texture, you could reduce the amount of granulated sugar and add 1 to 2 tablespoons light non-fructose corn syrup such as Karo. Aside from the ratio of sugar to fruit (try to keep it at 20-25%), the most important rule is to seek out the absolute best fruit, at its prime. And keep in mind that the ratios of sugar will change depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Lemon really brings out the flavors of not just the fruit but the lemon verbena or other herbs you might choose to include. This sorbet is satisfying as is, but you could also reduce some balsamic vinegar in a small pot until thick and syrupy to drizzle over.
Strawberry lemon sorbet
Makes 1 quart
2 1/2 pounds strawberries (to make about 4 cups purée), hulled
1 whole lemon, preferably Meyer lemon, seeds removed and cut into quarters
1 to 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemon verbena, lavender, basil, or mint leaves
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons champagne or limoncello or Campari (optional)
1 tablespoon light, clear corn syrup (optional)
Hull strawberries and cut in half, if large. Combine lemon and sugar and herbs in the bowl of a food processor and blend just to combine. Add hulled strawberries and salt and blend into a purée. If desired, strain out the seeds. Taste and add more sugar, herbs, or lemon juice. If using, stir in champagne and corn syrup. Process in an ice cream maker and freeze several hours before serving.
Note: If not using an ice cream maker, pour blended mixture into a freezer-proof glass or non-reactive metal container. After one hour, scrape and stir the mixture, repeating every 30 to 40 minutes for several hours and until it freezes to desired consistency. Store, in an airtight container, in the freezer. Since you’re eating fresh fruit, even though it’s frozen, it’s best to consume within a week.