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Featured photo for Damson Plum Sorbet recipe: shows a scoop in an, ice cream maker bowl filled with freshly churned Damson plum sorbet

SORBETS – THE RIGHT WAY

Damson Plum Sorbet

Damson Plum Sorbet

With Damson plums and sugar

If you’re a fan of Damson plums, you’ll love this sorbet recipe. Damson plums are in season in October and are a must-try for any fruit lover. Although I generally prefer sorbets made from uncooked fruit, Damson plums are an exception. Their flavour becomes more intense and aromatic when cooked, making for an irresistible sorbet.

In this recipe, we cook the plums with sugar on the stove until they are softened and their flavour deepens. With only two ingredients – plums and sugar – this sorbet is simple yet delicious. With some tricks I’ve developed  over the years, this sorbet has a smooth, velvety texture which keeps in the freezer for weeks.

When developing this recipe, the biggest challenge was the plum’s tough skin. After some trial and error, I’ve come up with two ways to overcome this; the one is to cut the plums in tiny pieces before cooking them. The other is to let the plums macerate in sugar overnight; this softens their skins. Or for a super-smooth finish you can do both.

or see:

The ingredients

Do not reduce or replace anything; everything is there for a reason.

Shows the ingredients for the Damson plum Butter: a bowl with Damson plums and a bowl with regular sugar

• Damson plums: it’s preferable to use larger fruit over smaller ones. The tough skins of Damson plums are not easy to soften, so larger fruit with more pulp than skin is ideal. Look for ripe plums that feel soft and firm. Alternatively, you can use other plum varieties to make this sorbet.

Sugar: use regular sugar (white granulated sugar).

Do not use any other sugar or sweetener, natural or artificial, liquid or powder, like honey, stevia, golden syrup, table sweeteners, confectioner’s sugar, etc.

Watch us making it
The recipe

Damson Plum Sorbet

Ingredients:
Notes:

This recipe makes a 1.2 litre/quart sorbet mixture (before churning), perfect for ice cream makers with a capacity of 1.5 and up to 2 litres/quarts (like Cuisinart ice cream makers).

If you need to scale the sorbet mixture up or down, use this ratio of the ingredients (in weight only): 

Damson plums 83,4% / sugar 16.6%

in desired total weight of sorbet mixture.

for example, if you want to make 1000 g (approx. 1 litre) of sorbet mixture, you need:

• 1000 g x 83.4% = 834 g Damson plums

• 1000 g x 16.6% = 166 g sugar

The secret to this perfectly smooth sorbet is the quantity of the sugar. Although we prefer our sorbets on the less sweet side, the sugar in this sorbet contributes to its perfectly smooth texture and prevents the formation of ice crystals.
Using that much sugar also means that the sorbet melts fast during serving. So if you are making it when the weather is hot, you may want to reduce the sugar by 30 g; 1 oz, but expect it to become a little bit icier in the freezer.
Another way to make the sorbet taste less sweet is to replace part of the sugar with glucose syrup (you can replace up to 50g of sugar with 50 g of glucose syrup; equal quantities in weight) and still have this perfect texture. Just make sure to add the glucose syrup in the saucepan before you cook the Damson plums.

A flexible rubber spatula is good for:
-wiping the bottom of the saucepan when you cook on the stovetop to prevent scalding.
-scraping residues from bowls, saucepans etc.

If you do not have one, we strongly encourage you to buy one, preferably a flexible one. 

Instructions
Plan ahead:

The sorbet mixture should be completely cold before churning, so prepare it in advance to give it time to chill in the refrigerator.

If your ice cream maker has a removable freezer bowl, put it in the freezer for the whole time indicated by the manufacturer before churning, usually 24 hours.

Step 1: Prepare the Damson plums

This step is about making the tough fruit’s skin in the sorbet as fine as possible. There are three ways to do so, you can choose any you like:

  1. Cut the fruit into tiny pieces: to make the skin as fine as possible. Begin by cutting each plum half into small pieces using a sharp, serrated knife. To attain the best results, slice the plum half with the cut side facing down. Slice the plums lengthwise into thin strips, then cut them crosswise into tiny bits. It is important to note that you need to cut the skin as finely as possible, not the flesh.
  2. Macerate with the sugar overnight this softens the skins and makes for a smoother sorbet. Place the Damson halves in a large bowl, or preferably in the saucepan you will use to cook them the following day. Add the sugar and stir well to cover the plums with sugar. For optimal results, leave the mixture overnight, stirring once or twice to redistribute the sugar.
  3. Combine the two techniques above: Cut the Damson plums into tiny pieces, as described in step one, and cover them with sugar. Allow them to sit overnight.
Step 2: Make the sorbet mixture

Put the plums and the sugar into a large saucepan (if using the overnight method, scrape off with a rubber spatula all the syrup and any undissolved sugar left on the bowl into the saucepan).

Weigh the saucepan and its containers over a kitchen scale and keep a note of the total weight.

Cook until the sugar dissolves: place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring 

occasionally with a rubber spatula.

Cook to soften the plums: when all the sugar dissolves, increase the heat to high, cover the saucepan with a lid, leaving a small gap open at the edges and cook until the plums soften. This should take:

  • 5 minutes for the finely chopped plums and
  • 10 minutes for the halved and macerated plums

Remove from the heat and leave it to cool down, about one hour.

Weigh the saucepan and add enough water to reach the initial total weight (see your note).

Blend, starting with the chunks: remove the plums chunks with a slotted spoon into a blender and blend until smooth and the skins are as fine as possible -stop the blender once and scrape the sides and bottom of the blender with a rubber spatula-.

Add the syrup: with the blender on, slowly add the syrup left in the saucepan, scraping along all residues from the saucepan with a rubber spatula. Blend to combine.

When churning with a domestic ice cream maker, the sorbet mixture must be fridge-cold (feels fridge-cold to the touch / if you have a thermometer below 12ºC / 54ºF ).

If the sorbet mixture is not cold enough, the ice cream maker may not be able to churn it to its fullest potential, resulting in a sloppy liquid vs. fluffy sorbet.

Step 3: Chill the sorbet mixture

Pour the sorbet mixture into a bowl, scraping all residues from the saucepan.

Put in the refrigerator until completely cold, about 8 hours, and up to 1 day. 

Step 4: Churn

Check if the sorbet mixture is cold before churning it: (it feels fridge-cold to the touch / below 12ºC / 54ºF).

Prepare the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Stir: with a rubber spatula give the sorbet mixture a nice, thorough stir.

Churn: with the machine running, pour the sorbet mixture through the canister and into the ice cream makerLeave to churn until fluffed up and steady; depending on your ice cream maker, this can take anywhere from 40-70 minutes.

This sorbet will expand and fluff up during churning. It is ready when it is fluffy. The total churning time depends on your ice cream maker and could be anywhere from 40-70 minutes.

To evaluate if it is ready, lift a spoonful; it should be thick enough to stand on the spoon, but it will still be soft. If it looks watery or starts to melt the moment you spoon it, leave it to churn for longer.

In any case, if you feel doubts about the consistency, leave it to churn for ten minutes more. But beware: at this stage, do not expect it to be like store-bought sorbet; for now, it will be softer. It will firm up only after it sets in the freezer. So, stop the ice cream maker when the sorbet is steady and fluffy, as described above.

Note that some ice cream makers are programmed to stop after a specific time, which doesn’t make sense because the sorbet may need to churn for more to reach its fullest potential. So, if you notice that your ice cream maker stops on its own and upon checking the sorbet, you find that it is sloppy instead of fluffy, try to turn the machine on again and leave it to churn until it reaches the desired texture.

Step 5: Put the sorbet in the freezer to set

Put in the freezer to set: before serving the sorbet or moving it to a container for storing, you have to put it in the freezer to set. To do so, turn off the ice cream maker and: 

· remove the removable freezer bowl (still filled with the ice cream) from the ice cream machine
· remove the paddle, scraping any sorbet attached to it back into the ice cream bowl 
· place it in the freezer, uncovered.

Setting time depends on many factors; see notes below for indicative times.

Serve or store: when it sets, you can serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl or transfer it to an airtight container for longer storage.

The setting time for the sorbet largely depends on the type of ice cream maker you use.

It can take :

  • 3-5 hours for removable freezer bowls (these are the ice cream maker bowls which you should pre-freeze before churning)
  • 1 hour for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

Note: the times given are indicative. Setting time depends on many factors.

When the sorbet is ready, it feels firm as you insert a knife into it; it should have this same firm consistency from top to bottom. Else:

  • not ready yet: it will feel hard on the top and softer as you go down
  • if left in the freezer for too long: it will be too hard for the knife to insert into it and too hard to scoop out of the ice cream bowl. Do not worry, though! Read right below how to soften it.

If the sorbet stays in the removable freezer bowl for too long, it will harden and be difficult to remove or serve.

To make it scoopable again, leave it in the refrigerator to soften. That can take:

  • anywhere from 4 to 10 hours for removable freezer bowls (the ones which need pre-freezing before churning)
  • 1-2 hours for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

(Note: the time given is indicative, time may vary depending on many factors, so do check it occasionally as it sits in the refrigerator.)

When the sorbet is easy to scoop you can transfer it to another container and store it in the freezer or serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl.

Straight after churning, the sorbet has a soft consistency and melts immediately upon contact with anything. This makes it impossible to serve or transfer to another container.

Putting it in the freezer after churning sets it and brings it to the right consistency, similar to that of a store-bought one.

Storing and serving

Storing: in the freezer for three months, covered well.

Scooping: this sorbet, like all artisanal sorbets, it freezes hard in the long term. You can make it scoopable by putting it in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.

Instructions

The sorbet mixture should be completely cold before churning, so prepare it in advance to give it time to chill in the refrigerator.

If your ice cream maker has a removable freezer bowl, put it in the freezer for the whole time indicated by the manufacturer before churning, usually 24 hours.

This step is about make the fruit’s skin in the sorbet as refined as possible. There are three ways to do so, you can choose any you like:

  1. Cut the fruit into tiny pieces: Begin by cutting each plum half into small pieces using a sharp, serrated knife. To attain the best results, slice the plum half with the cut side facing down. Slice the plums lengthwise into thin strips, then cut them crosswise into tiny bits. It is important to note that you need to cut the skin as finely as possible, not the flesh.
  2. Macerate with the sugar overnight: Place the Damson halves in a large bowl, or preferably in the saucepan you will use to cook them the following day. Add the sugar and stir well to cover the plums with sugar. For optimal results, leave the mixture overnight, stirring once or twice to redistribute the sugar.
  3. Combine the two techniques above: Cut the Damson plums into tiny pieces, as described in step one, and cover them with sugar. Allow them to sit overnight.

Put the plums and the sugar into a large saucepan (if using the overnight method, scrape off with a rubber spatula all the syrup and any undissolved sugar into the saucepan).

Weigh the saucepan and its containers over a kitchen scale and keep a note of the total weight.

Cook until the sugar dissolves: place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula.

Cook to soften the plums: increase the heat to high, cover the saucepan with a lid, leaving a small gap open at the edges and cook until the plums soften. This should take:

  • 5 minutes for the finely chopped plums and
  • 10 minutes for the halved and macerated plums

Remove from the heat and leave it to cool down, about one hour.

Weigh the saucepan and add enough water to reach the initial total weight (see your note).

Blend, starting with the chunks: remove the plums chunks with a slotted spoon into a blender and blend until smooth and the skins are as fine as possible -if needed, stop the blender and scrape the sides and bottom of the blender with a rubber spatula-.

Add the syrup: with the blender on, slowly add the syrup left in the saucepan, scraping along all residues from the saucepan with a rubber spatula. Blend to combine.

Pour the sorbet mixture into a bowl, scraping all residues from the saucepan.

Put in the refrigerator until completely cold, about 8 hours, and up to 1 day. 

Check if the sorbet mixture is cold before churning it: (it feels fridge-cold to the touch / below 12ºC / 54ºF).

Prepare the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Stir: with a rubber spatula give the sorbet mixture a nice, thorough stir.

Churn: with the machine running, pour the sorbet mixture through the canister and into the ice cream makerLeave to churn until fluffed up and steady; depending on your ice cream maker, this can take anywhere from 40-70 minutes.

Put in the freezer to set: before serving the sorbet or moving it to a container for storing, you have to put it in the freezer to set. To do so, turn off the ice cream maker and: 

· remove the removable freezer bowl (still filled with the ice cream) from the ice cream machine
· remove the paddle, scraping any sorbet attached to it back into the ice cream bowl 
· place it in the freezer, uncovered.

Setting time depends on many factors; see notes below for indicative times.

Serve or store: when it sets, you can serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl or transfer it to an airtight container for longer storage.

Storing: in the freezer for three months, covered well.

Scooping: this sorbet, like all artisanal sorbets, it freezes hard in the long term. You can make it scoopable by putting it in the refrigerator for 30-60.

When churning with a domestic ice cream maker, the sorbet mixture must be fridge-cold (feels fridge-cold to the touch / if you have a thermometer below 12ºC / 54ºF ).

If the sorbet mixture is not cold enough, the ice cream maker may not be able to churn it to its fullest potential, resulting in a sloppy liquid vs. fluffy sorbet.

This sorbet will expand and fluff up during churning. It is ready when it is fluffy. The total churning time depends on your ice cream maker and could be anywhere from 30-70 minutes.

To evaluate if it is ready, lift a spoonful; it should be thick enough to stand on the spoon, but it will still be soft. If it looks watery or starts to melt the moment you spoon it, leave it to churn for longer.

In any case, if you feel doubts about the consistency, leave it to churn for ten minutes more. But beware: at this stage, do not expect it to be like store-bought sorbet; for now, it will be softer. It will firm up only after it sets in the freezer. So, stop the ice cream maker when the sorbet is steady and fluffy, as described above.

Note that some ice cream makers are programmed to stop after a specific time, which doesn’t make sense because the sorbet may need to churn for more to reach its fullest potential. So, if you notice that your ice cream maker stops on its own and upon checking the sorbet, you find that it is sloppy instead of fluffy, try to turn the machine on again and leave it to churn until it reaches the desired texture.

The setting time for the sorbet largely depends on the type of ice cream maker you use.

It can take :

  • 3-5 hours for removable freezer bowls (these are the ice cream maker bowls which you should pre-freeze before churning)
  • 1 hour for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

Note: the times given are indicative. Setting time depends on many factors.

When the sorbet is ready, it feels firm as you insert a knife into it; it should have this same firm consistency from top to bottom. Else:

  • not ready yet: it will feel hard on the top and softer as you go down
  • if left in the freezer for too long: it will be too hard for the knife to insert into it and too hard to scoop out of the ice cream bowl. Do not worry, though! Read right below how to soften it.

If the sorbet stays in the removable freezer bowl for too long, it will harden and be difficult to remove or serve.

To make it scoopable again, leave it in the refrigerator to soften. That can take:

  • anywhere from 4 to 10 hours for removable freezer bowls (the ones which need pre-freezing before churning)
  • 1-2 hours for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

(Note: the time given is indicative, time may vary depending on many factors, so do check it occasionally as it sits in the refrigerator.)

When the sorbet is easy to scoop you can transfer it to another container and store it in the freezer or serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl.

If the sorbet stays in the removable freezer bowl for too long, it will harden and be difficult to remove or serve.

To make it scoopable again, leave it in the refrigerator to soften. That can take:

  • anywhere from 4 to 10 hours for removable freezer bowls (the ones which need pre-freezing before churning)
  • 1-2 hours for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

(Note: the time given is indicative, time may vary depending on many factors, so do check it occasionally as it sits in the refrigerator.)

When the sorbet is easy to scoop (or it has an internal temperature of approx. -10°C / 14°F if you have a thermometer), you can transfer it to another container and store it in the freezer or serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl.

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