Apricot Sorbet |
the right way

Apricot Sorbet | the right way

August 2, 2021

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© 2021 Biterkin

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This Apricot Sorbet is made with just two ingredients: fresh apricots and sugar; yet it is the most amazing apricot sorbet you can create, both in terms of flavour as of texture. 

To make this apricot sorbet, we only need to macerate the fresh apricots in the sugar at room temperature, until the sugar dissolves. Afterwards, we put the macerated apricots in the refrigerator until cold, then blend them and churn with the ice cream maker.

All the charm of this recipe lies in the maceration process, during which the sugar gradually melts as it comes into contact with the moisture of the fresh apricots. This is the secret to a perfect fresh apricot flavour and a lovely, smooth sorbet texture, without using any special ingredients. You can read everything about what makes this simple sorbet so special in the Biterkin tricks section below.

The Biterkin tricks to a perfect Apricot Sorbet:

Here are all the tricks used in this recipe, which make for a perfectly flavourful and smooth sorbet.

In this recipe we macerate the apricots with the sugar, which makes for a perfectly smooth sorbet. Before I explain how this makes for the best sorbet possible with just two ingredients (apricots and sugar), let’s have a look at the usual ways for apricot sorbet making which exist out there and the problems they create:

1) most sorbet recipes require that you make a syrup by boiling water with sugar and then blend this syrup with the apricots. The problem with this method is that we add extra water from the syrup to the sorbet, which result in a diluted apricot flavour. 

2) other recipes require that you cook the apricots with the sugar, so that the sugar dissolves during the cooking process. But the problem with this is the apricot-jam flavour the final sorbet has. And I am sure you will agree that keeping the fresh apricot’s flavour intact, is so much more preferable.

3) another common way to make apricot sorbet, you will find, is to simply blend the fresh apricots with the sugar and then churn the blended mixture. The problem here is that the sugar remains undissolved. And sugar does much more than add sweetness to sorbets; the main role of sugar is to trap the water molecules and prevent the sorbet from becoming icy. And to do so, it really does need to fully dissolve.

So, when making an apricot sorbet, we have two main issues: one is that we need to fully dissolve the sugar, to achieve the perfect texture and the other is that we want to keep the fruit uncooked, to achieve a perfect flavour. Here comes the maceration method, which does just that: when macerating the apricots in the sugar at room temperature, the sugar, being hydrophilic as it is, draws water out of the apricots. This water gradually dissolves the sugar, without the need to apply any heat. This works best with apricots which are tepid, as the warmer the temperature, the more easily the sugar dissolves. However, if you start with refrigerated apricots which are cold, just leave them to macerate for longer. Stirring occasionally speeds up the process and helps the sugar melt efficiently. 

In the recipe you are asked to blend the macerated apricots  just before churning.

Although it would make sense to blend the apricots right after the maceration process and while they are still lukewarm, so that you can chill the whole thing and have it ready for churning, I prefer not to do so, because by leaving the apricots sitting in their own syrup for as long as possible, their texture becomes softer (which makes their blending smoother) and their flavours mellow. Blending also causes the discolouration of the fruit, so to preserve a colour as bright as possible, it is best to only blend the apricots just before churning.

Ok, this might be a no-brainer, but how many times have you been asked in a recipe to blend the whole thing (solid and liquid ingredients), only to be left with chunks of the solids intact?

Blending has its tricks too, and for a smoother result, blend methodically: remove the apricot chunks from their syrup with a slotted spoon, leaving most of the syrup behind. Start with blending the removed apricots; with the blender on, add just as much syrup as needed to get the blending going. Leave to blend for one full minute or until smooth and then gradually add the rest of the syrup, stopping the blender and scraping it with a rubber spatula, if needed. This makes for the smoothest apricot pulp possible, which in turn results in a perfectly smooth sorbet.

Well, the answer is: don’t. This recipe assumes that you use all the flavour and the pulp of the apricots. Straining removes part of both. And do not worry about having apricot skin intact in your final sorbet, as this softens during the maceration process and the final sorbet is perfectly smooth, with a lovely, full body.

The ingredients:

You will only need two ingredients:

The recipe at a glance:

This is a quick overview of the recipe. If you are new to sorbet making, do not rely only on this, but do read the recipe before proceeding. 

Apricot Sorbet | the right way
Ingredients:

You will need a scale to accurately measure the ingredients.

For this recipe. you cannot be provided with a trustworthy measurement in cups, as apricots are impossible to measure in volume. You should weigh the apricots after the stones are removed; it is important that they weigh 1000 gr/35.3 oz, in order to achieve the right amount of sugars in the sorbet.

You can always scale up or down the quantity of the sorbet mixture to suit your needs, you only just keep the “apricots:sugar” ratio and the results will be perfect.

The amount of fruit asked for in the ingredients is of stoned apricots.

It is best to have the apricots at room temperature, as this will help the sugar dissolve faster during the maceration process. But if they are fridge cold, just leave them to macerate for longer in step 1, maybe for 1-2 hours more, as it takes longer for sugar to dissolve in cold temperatures.

Use fresh, juicy, in-season apricots. The taste of the apricot sorbet will be determined by the taste of the apricots themselves. So, if you want a fragrant, wonderful sorbet, so should your apricots be.

Use only ripe apricots for this recipe, these have the right amount of natural sugar content needed; unripe apricots have not yet turned their starch into sugar, which will definitely affect the balance of the final sorbet and may result in an icy sorbet vs. a velvety one.

To ripen apricots, just leave them at room temperature for a day or two, until they feel tender to the touch.

Regular white sugar or superfine/caster sugar are the best options for this recipe. The finer the sugar crystals, the more easily they will dissolve at room temperature, without applying any heat.

I do not recommend using raw cane sugar (like Demerara or Turbinado), as their taste tends to cover the delicate apricot flavour. Additionally, their sugar crystals are large and are difficult to melt without applying heat. If you really want to use a raw cane sugar, you can mix the apricots with the sugar and warm gently over very low heat, just until the sugar dissolves.

DO NOT use sugar substitutes, such as table sweeteners or stevia. Also, do not use confectioner’s sugar, it is not suitable for this recipe. 

It is important to use the right amount of sugar in this recipe, in order to achieve the perfect texture. For this reason, be extra attentive in each and every step, so that you have the least loss of sugar possible throughout the process.

For instance, in step 1, after mixing the apricots with the sugar, take care that you scrape down the sugar granules which tend to stick and harden on the upper sides of the bowl. Additionally, when you finally remove the spatula, scrape it to drop any sugar/syrup residues back into the bowl. Follow this mindset in every other step which can cause even minimal sugar loss.

This also applies every time you have to transfer the mixture from the bowl to the blender, from the blender to the bowl; and so on: take care that you leave the least amount possible of sugar/syrup/mixture behind. Using a flexible rubber spatula to scrape the residues is always effective.

Ideally start with apricots which are tepid; this will help the sugar melt faster and more efficiently.

Instructions

Before starting, make sure that your ice cream maker is ready for churning when needed. This means that if it has a removable freezer bowl, it should be put in the freezer for the whole time indicated by the manufacturer, usually 24 hours.

If you intend to transfer the sorbet to a container to store it, put this container in the freezer well ahead of time, too; this will prevent the sorbet from melting upon contact with it.

Step 1: Prepare the apricots
Mix the apricots with the sugar: cut each apricot half in quarters (1000 gr; 35.3 oz.) and put them in a large bowl. Sprinkle the sugar (180 gr; 6.3 oz) over them, squeeze in the lemon juice and give them a stir with a rubber spatula, leaving the spatula in the bowl.

Macerate the apricots: leave the apricots to macerate with the sugar at room temperature for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally with the spatula to help the sugar dissolve. Each time you give a stir, scrape the bottom of the bowl, bringing upwards any undissolved sugar and mixing it with the apricots. TIP: try to avoid anything that will cause loss of sugar from the bowl, like lifting the spatula from the bowl to use it somewhere else. 

Chill thoroughly: when all the sugar has dissolved and a syrup has formed, you have to bring the macerated apricots and their syrup to fridge-cold temperature before churning. To chill, use one of the two methods below (click on methods to read more):

Personally, I prefer the slow method, because the more the apricots sit in their syrup, the softer they become and the more mellow their flavours are. However, this improvement is the extra mile, which may not be noticeable to most people, therefore feel free to follow the method which is more convenient to you.
One thing to consider in choosing the fast method is whether you have enough ice to fully submerge the bag with the apricots.

When churning with a domestic ice cream maker, your sorbet mixture should always be thoroughly chilled. Otherwise, your ice cream maker may not be able to churn the sorbet to its fullest potential, resulting in a sloppy sorbet. This is why we chill the apricots and their syrup until they are fridge-cold and then blend them just before churning, so that the resulting blended mixture is thoroughly cold.

Step 2: Blend the chilled apricot mixture
Check whether the apricot syrup is thoroughly chilled, before churning: it should feel fridge-cold to the touch (or if you have an instant-read thermometer, it should read 4ºC–8ºC / 39ºF-46ºF).

Blend the apricots: with a slotted spoon remove the apricots from their syrup, put them in a blender and blend them for one minute to a smooth pulp, adding just enough apricot syrup to get things going. 

When no chunks remain, with the blender on, slowly pour in the rest of the syrup, increase the speed to high and blend for 1 minute. You can use a stick blender instead of a regular blender, if you like.

Immediately proceed to churning, while the apricot mixture is cold.

Step 3: Churn the sorbet

Prepare the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Churn: with the machine running, pour the cold blended apricot mixture through the canister and into the ice cream maker. 

Leave to churn until fluffed up and creamy; depending on your ice cream maker this can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes; (see below).

This sorbet will expand and fluff up during churning. It is ready when it looks smooth and fluffy. This could take anywhere from 30-60 minutes, depending on your ice cream maker.

To evaluate if it’s ready, lift a spoonful; it should be thick enough to stand on the spoon, but it will still be soft-textured. If, upon lifting some sorbet with the spoon, a pool immediately starts forming on its edges, you will have to churn it for longer. 

In any case, if you feel doubts about the consistency, leave it for ten minutes more. But beware: at this stage, do not expect it to be like store-bought carton sorbet; for now it will be softer. It will firm up and become like store-bought sorbet only after it sets in the freezer. 

So, stop the ice cream maker when the sorbet is thick and fluffy, as described above. 

Note: some ice cream makers are programmed by the manufacturer to stop after a specific length of time, which doesn’t make sense because in this time the sorbet may have not reached its fullest potential. So, if you notice that your ice cream maker stops on its own and upon checking the sorbet, you find that it is sloppy instead of fluffy, try to turn the machine on again and leave it to churn until it reaches the desired texture.

 

Step 4: Put in the freezer to set

Put in the freezer to set: before serving the sorbet or removing it to a container for storage, you have to put it in the freezer to set; remove the removable freezer bowl (still filled with the sorbet) from the ice cream machine, cover with a lid and put it in the freezer to set. Setting time depends highly on the type of ice cream maker you use; see notes below for indicative times.

Serve or store: when it sets, you can serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl or transfer it to an airtight container for longer storing.

The setting time for the sorbet largely depends on the type of ice cream maker you use.

This can take :

  • 3-5 hours for removable freezer bowls (these are the ice cream maker bowls which must be frozen before churning)
  • 1 hour for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

Note: the times given are indicative, actual time may vary depending on many factors, so do check it every one hour or two, while it sits in the freezer. To evaluate if the sorbet has properly set, insert a knife into it, all the way to the bottom:

  • if it is properly set, it will be soft enough for the knife to be inserted into it, and yet have the same consistency from top to bottom
  • if it is not ready yet, it will feel hard on the top and softer as you go down
  • if it is too hard for the knife to insert, you may have left it in the freezer for too long. Do not worry though, read what to do below.

Straight after churning, the sorbet has a soft-serve consistency and melts immediately upon contact with anything. This makes it impossible to serve or transfer to another container.

Putting it directly in the freezer for 4-5 hours after churning, will help it set and reach the right consistency.

Then you can serve it or transfer to a sealable container for longer storing.

If the sorbet stays in the removable freezer bowl for too long, it will harden and will be difficult to remove or serve.

Do not worry though, you can still make it scoopable by leaving it in the refrigerator to soften. This can take :

  • 6-8 hours for removable freezer bowls (these are the ice cream maker bowls which must be frozen before churning)
  • 1-2 hours for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

(Note: the time given is indicative, actual time may vary depending on many factors, so do check it once in a while while it sits in the refrigerator).

After this, the sorbet will be easy to scoop and transfer to another container; or serve directly from the removable freezer bowl.

Storage

Storage: in the freezer for one month, covered well to protect it from absorbing the freezer’s smells. 

Scooping: this sorbet, like all artisanal sorbets, freezes hard in the long term. To soften it to a perfectly scoopable consistency, put it in the refrigerator for one hour. 

If you have an instant-read thermometer, the perfect serving temperature of this apricot sorbet is when the thermometer inserted midway through the sorbet, reads around -11ºC / 12ºF.

On sugar accuracy: 

It is important to use the right amount of sugar in this recipe, in order to achieve the perfect texture. For this reason, be extra attentive in each and every step, so that you have the least loss of sugar possible throughout the process.

For instance, in step 1, after mixing the apricots with the sugar, take care when you finally remove the spatula, as there will be sugar stuck on it. Do your best to drop it back into the bowl and follow this mindset in every other step which can cause even minimal sugar loss.

This also applies every time you have to transfer the mixture from the bowl to the blender, from the blender to the bowl; and so on: take care that you leave the least amount possible of sugar/syrup/mixture behind. Using a flexible rubber spatula to scrape the residues is always effective.

On temperatures:

Ideally start with apricots which are tepid; this will help the sugar melt faster and more efficiently.

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