Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Strawberry banana sorbet

[Note: I recently made a strawberry banana ice cream that turned out quite well. If you're not dead set on a sorbet, you might take a look at that recipe too.]

Strawberries were on sale this week so I bought them without any immediate idea of what to do with them. Once it became clear that I wasn't going to snack my way through the entire carton I looked around for ways to use them in ice cream. There were a lot of not-terribly-exciting options. I did notice an interesting lack of chocolate/strawberry ice cream recipes, though, which I may follow up on later. I also considered taking another shot at the basalmic strawberry ice cream I made to try to fix the textural problems I encountered. (Probably by using all real sugar instead of Splenda blend and by excluding the vinegar from the strawberry maceration instead just drizzling it in during churning.) But this week, it's strawberry banana sorbet. Given the magical psuedo-custard properties of bananas, I was curious how it would affect a sorbet's texture.

Also, I wanted to try using red bananas. Most people in the US only have access to the standard supermarket Cavendish banana. In Miami we're lucky to be able to get a few other varietals. Red bananas are the second most common banana and I understand that they have a more berry-like flavor than Cavendishes. (Yes, I know bananas are berries and, by the way, strawberries aren't, but you know what I mean.) Unfortunately I'll never find out myself as I've had these red bananas for two weeks now and they're just as rock solid under-ripe as the day I bought them. So I went out and bought some Cavendishes so I can make this before my strawberries start to rot.

Most of the recipes I found on-line for strawberry banana sorbet were actually sherbets (with milk or cream as an ingredient) or extra-thick smoothies so I decided to cobble together a version from a banana sorbet and a strawberry sorbet in Lebovitz's Perfect Scoop recipe book along with some standard sorbet tricks he didn't use.

1 large banana, as ripe as available
2 pints strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Tablespoons light rum
1 pinch salt

1. Peel banana and place in freezer.

2. Hull and slice strawberries. Toss with sugar and let macerate for 1 hour at room temperature.

3. Add all ingredients to blender (breaking up banana). Blend until smooth.

4. Cool mixture in refrigerator at least four hours until 40 degrees F. Churn and then ripen in the freezer.

That includes a couple refinements I thought of after I made the recipe myself. I neglected to freeze the banana (which breaks down the bananas' cells and gets it goopy. The blender probably does a fair job of this as well, but the freezer is more thorough.) or add the salt (which brings out the sweetness), but it turned out fine anyway. Here it is straight out of the churn. That's rather thicker than I've seen most of my sorbets get, but my new churn provides a full 25 minutes of freeziness and for a change it isn't over 90 degrees in my kitchen today so it could just be the extra cold and not the banana causing it. The real test will be the mouthfeel after ripening. I'll see tomorrow...

It's tomorrow and I'm quite happy with the creamy texture. If you didn't know, you'd swear there was milk in there (but not cream; let's not go nuts here.). And you'd think it was artificially colored with its vibrant strawberry red. Unfortunately, you might also be wrong about it including banana as that flavor is a bit subtle. On the other hand, the strawberry flavor is bright and clear and yummy. Let's just say the banana is there for textural support.

I'd like to try it again with a different berry and a larger riper banana to see how how the extra refinements I didn't put in this time work out.

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