Sherbets and iced drinks

Attractive and refreshing, sherbets and iced drinks are delicious. They are easy to prepare and great to cool down when it is warm.

Attractive and refreshing, sherbets and iced drinks are a delicious way to cool down when heat is crushing, as it is often during the summer. They are easy to prepare. This frozen treats can remind you of the bright summer sun during the dark winter days.

Anyone can easily prepare at home iced drinks as good as commercial ones, if not better.  The only requirements are some fresh natural ingredients, a freezer or ice cream maker, and a few recipes. The easiest way to learn to make ice creams is to start with the water based ones: sherbets and iced drinks; elegant combinations of syrup, your choice flavor, and, sometimes, egg whites.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker to help you prepare these iced treats, don´t worry. A freezer, a metal ice tray, a blender, and some patience will achieve the goal.

You’ll need freezing cold and…

Without freezing temperature there is no iced drink or sherbet.

Freezing compartment in your refrigerator

At least an hour in advance, set to the point of maximum cold temperature. Move delicate food to the bottom shelves or out to the fridge.

Stand by freezer

No need to graduate or change temperature. It is always very low, ideal for freezing food. It can freeze large amounts of sherbet or ice cream.

Ice cream maker

Specifically design to stir the mixture while it freezes, rendering very smooth creams. No need to count minutes or manual stirring to break ice crystals. Modern machines are usually very fast. Some produce two pints of perfectly smooth ice cream in twenty minutes. Get one if you plan to make sherbets or ice creams often.

…no much more

A metal tray or container for the freezing compartment; a larger plastic or glass container in the case of the stand by freezer –no need to transfer the mixture, stir in the same container if it is deep enough.

A hand blender, to stir the mixture, a thick pan to prepare the syrup and a plastic strainer –a metal one will affect the flavor, knives to prepare the fruit, a citrus juicer is sometimes needed, and plastic containers to store the finished product.

First, the syrup

Just sugar and some liquid –water most times, also coffee, tea, fruit juice- but proportions and timing are essential. Too much sugar and there will be no sherbet, too little and it will be rock hard. Proportions are different for iced drinks and sherbets.

Mix sugar with cold liquid, stir until dissolved -add fruit peel flavor now- and take to the boil, stirring; reduce heat and simmer for the allotted time until the desired consistency is achieved. The longer simmering produces thicker syrup. Turn off heat -add tea or coffee at this point, to infuse- and let the syrup cool down in the same pan. Strain -add vegetable pure, fruit pure or juice now- and chill until ready to freeze.

Flavors

Fruit sherbets are attractive and deliciously refreshing in hot days. The chosen fruit flavor is clearly defined in the frozen sherbet. Best fruits for sherbets are those with strong and distinctive flavor: lemons, oranges, grapefruits, tangerines, peaches, strawberries, blackberries, pineapple, bananas, peaches or apricots, to name some.

For iced drinks, use only very juicy fruits –strawberries, for instance- and citrus fruits, the traditional ones. Other traditional flavors are coffee and tea.

Sherbets can be made from canned fruit, though using canned fruit defeats the main purposes of craft ice cream, and enjoying the fresh fruit flavor is one of them, but frozen fruits are very good.

The citrus flavor will be more intense if you add the peel to the syrup; a potato peeler will get the peel minus the white. Juice the fruit with a citrus press and add it to the syrup.

Puree other fruits. Use a sieve if there are pips or coarse bits. Boil gooseberries and blackberries –without any sugar- before pureeing.

Vegetable sherbets

You can serve a vegetable sherbet as an appetizer or a refresher between courses, after a spicy dish or when there is a long wait. There are not many vegetables suitable for a sherbet. The best are ripe tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, watercress, carrots or celery.

Puree cucumber with some of the skin. Add lemon juice to avocados, to prevent darkening. Wash water cress well and discard yellowish leaves; it is usually combined with lemon or orange juice. Tomatoes, carrots and celery should be boiled and pureed -no skin bits, please, use a sieve or food mill when necessary.

Freezing

Transfer the syrup to the selected container –covering with foil will help to produce uniform ice crystals- and freeze for about 30 to 45 minutes, until it looks like semi-liquid snow.

Get the sherbet out, transfer to another bowl if needed, scrapping well the sides to get all the iced syrup, and stir or use your blender -2 o3 minutes longer for iced drinks- to break the ice crystals. The syrup will be almost liquid again. Transfer back to the former container and back to the freezer.

For iced drinks, repeat this procedure other two times, every 30 to 45 minutes. And serve straight away, if not, they will freeze, losing consistency.

For sherbets, mix the egg white, beaten to snow peak consistency, the first time you break the ice. You will need to repeat the procedure only once more, after one and a half hours in the freezer. Any flavoring liquor is added this second time. Sherbets can be kept in the freezer, in a plastic container with lid, for six months. Sherbets kept this way will need softening before serving, just allow them to rest a few minutes at room temperature.