The Perfect Watermelon sorbet
Watermelons – refreshing, tasty and beloved but often quite a challenge for the ice cream maker. But that won’t stop us! Read on, and learn how to make a really nice sorbet! And … if you like, even the PERFECT watermelon sorbet! Read on!
The watermelon originates from Africa, from where it spread rapidly already in ancient times … to the Nile Valley, to India, and to China. The Moors – who also may have been responsible for the early transmission of the know-how necessary for the development of ice cream in Europe – brought the watermelons to the Iberian Peninsula, from where it spread throughout southern Europe and onwards. Widely planted in Europe by the 17th century, colonists and slaves from Africa then brought the watermelon to the New World.
The watermelon, true to its name, contains quite a LOT of water, and not much in terms of solids: two challenging aspects for the ice cream maker. Since its flavour is pleasant but also oh-so-mild and delicate, a sorbet should be the preferred frozen choice for preserving it the best. But how to deal with all that liquid? Do we have to resort to additional stabilisers? Not necessarily – but we WILL skip the traditional sugar syrup and base ourselves only on the melon itself and extra sugar!
Still concerned about the overall consistency? Fear not – those who seek the optimal watermelon sorbet should consider using our some of my favourite vegan-friendly sorbet-booster: aquafaba meringue!
How to do it
The pleasantly simple “fruit puree and sugar-only” method for making sorbets is attractive, but it can be quite expensive and/or laborious if you need a lot of fruit (and the option to “fill out” the sorbet with sugar syrup can be both tempting and appropriate). However, for the rather abundant and water-rich watermelon it works perfectly: All we need to do is to carve out the amount of melon meat we need, remove any seeds, add sugar and puree it all!
For those who would like to reduce the amount of sugar, I recommend replacing some of the white caster sugar with birch sugar. Birch sugar, also known as xylitol, is not really a sugar but it is the most “sugar-like” sugar substitute I know, and it works perfectly – even better than “ordinary white sugar” – in ice creams!
Those who do not plan to add any aquafaba or birch sugar could also consider adding 1-2 tablespoons of inverted sugar (like corn- or glucose syrup) in order to boost the general consistency of the sorbet.
To add a nice tinge of acidity to counter-act a too sweet tasting experience, we’ll also add a little citrus juice (I used lime juice, but lemon juice works equally well).
Once the sweetened melon puree is ready, you can – for the best results – let it chill an hour or two in the refrigerator before you churn the sorbet in your ice cream machine. And that’s it! Enjoy!
Go the extra mile, add some aquafaba and create the PERFECT watermelon sorbet!
Watermelons do not rank high in terms of solids. While the sorbet made as per above is nice and should work well, particularly for immediate consumption, the perfect sorbet will require a little extra stabilisation to gain that optimal consistency and texture. Italian meringue is a classic sorbet-improver that also could be used, but I decided to use the (easier and equally effective) vegan alternative Aquafaba.
You can read all about how to make aquafaba here: It really is super-easy – anyone who can open a can of chickpeas should typically be able to make it in a few minutes!
When working with aquafaba, you will only need about 150-200 ml (less than a cup) of it for your batch (if you add too much, you will end up creating watermelon spoom …). Just like with Italian meringue, you can however save any remaining surplus aquafaba in the freezer, in wait for the next time you decide to make sorbet.
Since the aquafaba will require a little sugar, I would suggest that you reduce the overall amount of sugar meant for the sorbet/fruit puree accordingly. But really – the amount of sugar in the relatively small amount of aquafaba you will add is not going to add that much, so we’re not talking about any major adjustments here anyway 😉 .
For the best results, add the aquafaba to the sorbet during the churning when it has begun to firm up. Then you only have to wait for the churning to finish, and you’re done!
The Perfect Watermelon sorbet
The watermelon sorbet is nice already without, but with a little added aquafaba, it really SHINES! Thanks to the sorbet’s “melon-intense” content, the sweet flavour of the melon comes across in a rich and pronounced, yet totally “fresh and natural” way. The overall consistency and the texture are pleasant and reassuring: while some water-rich sorbets sometimes can come across as a bit “too icy” once frozen, the aquafaba averts this problem. In short – this is a perfect and refreshing summer sorbet that should please (in particular) all watermelon lovers. The fact that it is so very easy to make is just another reason why you really should give it a try.
I was extremely happy with the result myself, and could not be happier when a friend of mine tested it the other day. She took a few bites, then solemnly declared it to be the best sorbet she had ever had!
- Watermelon with fruit meat enough to give you about 1 litre (4 1/4 cups) of watermelon purée
- 250 ml (1 cup) sugar (or 125 ml (1/2 cup) xylitol and 100 ml (2/5 cup) caster sugar)
- (optional but recommended particularly if not using any aquafaba: 1-2 tablespoons of inverted sugar á la corn- or glucose syrup
- Juice of about 1/2 lime optional: for some added tinge, add also the zest!
- optional, but strongly recommended for the PERFECT sorbet: about 150-200 ml (3/5 - 4/5 cup) of Aquafaba [see below for a link on how to make this: it is REALLY easy and only takes a few minutes
- Scope out the melon fruit meat, place it in a bowl and remove any seeds (if need be, use a sieve).
- Turn the fruit meat into puree using a household blender or similar, and adding the citrus juice and the sugar (and xylitol, if using) along the way.
- Possibly chill the sorbet base a couple of hours or so in the refrigerator before churning it in your ice cream machine.
- [if using aquafaba: Towards the end of the churning when the sorbet has begun to firm up a bit, add the aquafaba and let it blend into the sorbet.