Recipe of the Week: Cantaloupe Sorbet

Recipe of the Week: Cantaloupe Sorbet
Dave Lieberman

It's summer, it finally feels like summer, and it's melon season. There's only so much melon I can eat wrapped in ham or sliced plain with a little yoghurt and granola for breakfast. Sometimes I want ice cream--or, since I've got all this melon, sorbet.
You're going to need special equipment for this--an ice cream maker. The hand-cranked kind is a nice decoration, but it's a pain in the ass to use; you have to get the salt and ice mixture just right and you have to crank at a constant speed lest the dasher set up in ice. Yeah, nice for the novelty, but I love my electric ice cream mixer. The core goes into the freezer overnight, and there's no fuss and no muss.

Some recipes use lemon juice to cut the sugar; I prefer to use alcohol, which makes for a smoother texture (since it freezes at a lower temperature). Don't cut the sugar too much or it will freeze hard.

1 cantaloupe (or any summer melon, including watermelon)
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar, depending on how sweet the melon is
1 shot (1 1/2 fl. oz.) vodka or soju
pinch of salt

Preparation:

1. Peel the cantaloupe and purée its flesh in a blender.
2. Add the other ingredients, starting with 1 cup of sugar.
3. Taste the mixture. It should be too sweet, since cold dulls flavors. If not, add more sugar.
4. Chill the mixture for at least three hours in a metal or glass bowl in the fridge.
5. Turn the mixture in your ice cream freezer (see below).
6. Put into a freezer-safe contained, lid tightly, and freeze 3-4 hours to solidify

Some notes if you've never used an ice cream freezer before: the point of an ice cream freezer is to aerate the mixture; if you've ever tried to whip warm whipping cream in a hot kitchen, you know that cold mixtures whip faster.

Ice cream freezers vary, which is why these sorts of recipes always say something wishy-washy like "follow your machine's instructions"--in other words, RTFM. If, however, you are allergic to instruction manuals, you are in good company, and here are some general guidelines:

Nearly all ice cream machines for home use feature a core (a bucket) that gets frozen, a dasher (paddles that churn the ice cream) and a motor. How it's constructed is what varies. My machine is constructed so that I put the frozen core on a spindle, set the dasher (the paddles) in the core, and then secure it with the top, which spins closed like a blender. The core turns, not the dasher. Other models--especially the low-end--have the motor on top, which spins the dasher, and the frozen core remains stationary.

No matter what kind of machine you have, always turn it on before you start pouring sorbet mixture in! If you don't, it will freeze on contact and you can burn the motor out trying to get the thing going. They're not very powerful motors.

Most machines will churn this recipe in about twenty minutes. It should look slightly goopy, like slightly too-warm soft serve. It's OK--you aren't going to eat it yet; you should let it freeze in a tightly sealed container for three to four hours before you serve it. Then it will scoop beautifully.

Enjoy!

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