By Nadia Vitari
Mumbai weather is always suited for indulging in an ice cream or sherbet! Be it the crazy rains or the sweltering heat, it’s always a good time for an ice-cold dessert.
What if you could make a tasty sherbet (an icy dessert) at home? Sherbet can be made into a milk-free dessert so if one is avoiding milk-based ice-creams, sherbet is a perfect substitute. And what’s more, it’s simple, tasty and pocket friendly too!
This is why I would like to share with you a very easy recipe to prepare sherbet at home, with no dairy or the need for an ice-cream maker. It is a basic recipe and you can create your own variants of it. It can be effectively used for regular ice cream or frozen yogurt too!
For those of you who like alcohol, adding a tad of vodka to it can also make for a very nice digestive dessert at the end of a meal or in-between meals for a European style. In fact, this is often what happens at weddings in fancy restaurants, especially in Italy. Isn’t it always nice to have a refreshing break in between indulgent main dishes?!
My homemade sherbet is made using the exact same logic and steps as ice cream recipes. If you don’t mind milk: you need an ingredient (frozen fruit, and thinking of the local produce mango works the best, you can also try with pineapple, watermelon, and guava but mind that those are more liquid and less pulpy so you’ll have to increase the thickening ingredient or mix them with mango or banana) to give you a thick base and add liquid sugar (for example condensed milk) to help it freeze.
Condensed milk is an important ingredient in this case else the sherbet will be just too watery. If you cannot buy it easily or prefer to have it non-dairy or vegan, you can use my very simple recipe with coconut milk, which is also more cost effective. Also, do keep in mind that the only difference in the recipe below is in the kind of milk used. So for your recipe, you could just use any milk – dairy or coconut, and there you have it!
To make condensed milk, just add some sugar to milk and simmer in a heavy bottomed saucepan till sugar dissolves completely and keep it over low/medium heat. What is important is that you don’t stir it until the mix starts to simmer otherwise it can crack and crystallize. Then, let it on for around 30-40 minutes or until milk has darkened to a grayish color and reduced by half. Let it cool and store it in a jar, be careful though, if there are sugary bits around the rim of your pot don’t stir them into your condensed milk, this can also crack your mix and let milk cool completely before putting on the air tight lid. Keep it in the fridge and it will last you for months! Easy right?!
So coming back to our sherbet, for four people use around 400 gm of fruit and 70 gm of condensed milk, put them in a blender/food processor until thick and smooth (adjust milk and fruit quantity accordingly), pour this purée into a freezer-safe bowl, a metal one is preferred but plastic is also fine. Here’s the crucial and the only tricky part: every 30-45 minutes for 4 hours, remove your purée and re-mix everything together, as this prevents the ice crystals from forming and turning your sherbet into a giant fruit ice cube. After this freezing/re-mixing step, let it cool for 8 hours or until hard. Finally here you have it, enjoy it!
Other yummy mixes are banana and chocolate; mint goes very well with cucumber, strawberry, grapefruit; lime is awesome with melon, strawberry and kiwi; orange with basil; passion fruit with mango, and, if available, wild berries are just great too! In Europe we also add plants and petals like rhubarb, rose and elder-flower! If you like frozen yogurt you can also use that instead of condensed milk. Also, if you like it tangy, you can add some lime zest!
In fact, in case of sherbet, let your imagination surprise your taste buds!
About Nadia Vitari
Passionate traveler and backpacker, Nadia comes from the Lake of Como area in Italy (yes, where George Clooney lives!). She moved to Mumbai to work for an NGO. Being Italian and having lived, worked and studied in different countries, she is passionate about food and other cultures, especially anything Japanese! She also loves reading, football and rock music.