If You Have a Food Processor, You Can Make This Watermelon Sorbet
The only kitchen appliance I’ve ever regretted buying is the ice cream maker. It was a freezer jar that spins, ostensibly to perfect your creations, and I spent fifty American dollars on it. Of course, it technically “worked”, but at some point I left the bowl in the freezer for a full week and could still hear the splash of liquid as I shook it.
Ice cream counters can be cumbersome and awkward to complete, but they really aren’t the fault of homemade ice cream wasting so much time. Thermodynamics is a tough and demanding housewife, and the average home freezer is simply not powerful enough to produce the temperature swings needed for successful frozen desserts. I rent, which means that in the last three apartments I had exactly the same refrigerator – and you know, this is the cheapest Frigidaire that can be bought wherever appliances are sold. Appliance prices are closely tied to power output, so aspiring home ice cream makers who have to use cheap rented appliances are at a serious disadvantage.
Even if I had a better freezer – or finally made it to the freezer – I still wouldn’t make ice cream, because the things bought in the store are pretty darn good. I miss Tillamook ice cream every day, but I’m still spoiled for choice. CVS in my area has a pretty good selection of ice cream, sorbet, and ice cream, and if I’m feeling more trendy, my local Whole Foods has an awesome ice cream section. Philadelphia loves its gimmick shops too, and there are no less than half a dozen within a 15-minute bike ride, many of which sell their homemade treats by a pint. If I want ice cream, I have options, none of which involve squeezing a large bowl into the freezer for a week and praying that it really does freeze this time.
All of this suggests that I am not at all crazy about homemade frozen desserts, so I was quite shocked when I saw the recipe for the ” two-way watermelon sorbet ” that I really wanted to make. The recipe was simple, but plausible: frozen pieces of melon puree with condensed milk and salt, freeze and eat. Condensed milk is a powerful emulsifier and contains too much sugar to freeze the solid, so it seemed like it might actually work. As I’m predictable, I increased the amount of salt and added a little lemon to enhance the flavor of the watermelon. He ruled.
I can’t say that this sorbet changed my mind about homemade frozen desserts, but I can tell you that it is ridiculously tasty and almost cooked on its own. I love that it requires very little upfront planning – much less real work – but it doesn’t feel like you’re going to take a shortcut. Best of all, it perfectly captures the essence of watermelon in high season, making it the perfect treat for deceptively hot summer days.
Dead Plain Watermelon Sherbet
(Barely adapted from The Kitchn )
You won’t need an ice cream maker here, but you will need a food processor or blender and enough freezer space to accommodate a baking sheet. Otherwise, this is a fairly simple task: freeze watermelon cubes, rub them with condensed milk, add lemon and salt, freeze, scoop up and eat. Vegans can replace it with condensed coconut milk, which honestly could be even better.
If you don’t like watermelon, I believe it will work well with any frozen fruit you like, provided it has a little astringency to balance the condensed milk: blackberries, raspberries, pineapple, peaches, or mangoes are all great. choice. Finally, if you want Instagram-worthy scoops, add a tablespoon or two of vodka . (I skipped booze and I had no texture issues.)
- 2–2 ½ lb. diced watermelon (half a 5 lb. will do)
- 1 cup (about 300 g) sweetened condensed milk
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- Zest and juice of one lemon or lime
- 1 tablespoon vodka or other alcohol (optional; provides a smooth consistency)
First, make space in the freezer that is large enough to hold the baking sheet. Place the watermelon cubes in one layer on a parchment baking sheet; if you have too much watermelon for one layer, place another sheet of parchment on top and repeat. Transfer to the freezer and freeze until firm : A powerful freezer can do this in three or four hours, but if yours is as weak as mine, it’s better to leave them there overnight.
When the watermelon is completely frozen, transfer the slices to a food processor or blender. If it fits snugly, chop the melon into smaller pieces before adding the rest of the ingredients. I dropped everything impatiently and drove into the city; it worked fine, but I had to stop the processor several times to push some stubborn pieces towards the blades.
After you’ve added the condensed milk, salt, lemon zest, and juice, grind or stir until you have a very smooth light pink paste. My food processor did it in about three minutes, but don’t worry if yours takes a little longer – this is a recipe for forgiveness. In addition, the softer your puree, the softer and tastier your sorbet will be.
Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed, then transfer the sorbet to a freezer-safe container, press the parchment to the surface and freeze until it hardens. As with the first step, this will take anywhere from two hours to overnight, depending on your freezer.
Let the sorbet soften on the counter for a few minutes before scooping in if it is quite hard. Serve as is, or sprinkle with lemon zest or tagine if desired.