I love ice cream and I also love flavoured water ices, like sorbet and granita. The problem about making flavoured ice at home is that you either need an ice cream machine or several hours of work to get the ice as smooth as the commercial stuff. When I made this experiment I was not lucky enough to have an ice cream machine (this has since changed), but I had read up on the old method of making dessert ice and decided to test it. I didn’t have all of the ingredients for custard ice on hand, so I decided to make sorbet instead. I also did not have access to enough ice to make a salt/ice mixture for freezing, so I used the freezer compartment of my refrigerator.
I cooked up some simple sugar syrup, made from an equal volume of white sugar and water (in this case 200 ml of each). This I dumped into a saucepan and cooked until the sugar was melted. I then quickly cooled the syrup by putting the saucepan into the sink with some cold water. When the syrup was cool, I measured out 200 ml of syrup into a freezer safe bowl (the rest I bottled for later use). To this I added 150 ml of non-alcoholic pear cider and mixed it well. I then put a lid on the bowl and stuck it in the freezer.
After 90 minutes or so I took it out – the mixture had started freezing – and gave it a good stir to break up the forming ice crystals. I then returned it to the freezer. For the next three hours I would go back every 30 minutes and give it another good stir, and every time the mixture was thicker. Finally, when it had got hard to stir and was thick and felt very cold on the tongue, I spooned it into dessert glasses with lids and allowed it to freeze completely. When I taste tested it the texture was a little coarser than that of commercial sorbet, but it was very good, with a rich flavour much better than any commercial sorbet I had tasted. I decided that next time I had guests for dinner I would serve them home-made sorbet. The ice cream machine will make it much easier and less time-consuming.
If you want to try making sorbet, follow the description above and if you want a different flavour, any fruit juice or even fizzy drink works well in these proportions. For pure lemon or lime juice, you need to use less juice or the mixture will be too sour. Lemon sorbet, BTW, is a very good palate cleanser that is sometimes served between the courses of a meal to clear away the taste of the precious dish before a new one is served.
If you have an ice cream maker, made the sorbet mix and follow the instructions for freezing sorbet.