Leah’s Blood Orange Sorbet (Without an Ice Cream Machine)

Posted on 25 April 2020

Sweet, tangy, and gorgeous in the bowl, this blood orange sorbet is stunningly delicious. Despite its ease, you won’t find better, even at a high-end restaurant. That’s because it was scientifically formulated by Leah Greenwald, Chief Food Technology Advisor at the Recipephany Test Kitchens.

A curiosity about the science of cooking drives Leah to analyze, hypothesize and improve her recipes. She has been a great help here at Recipephany and is our own J. Kenji López-Alt (author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science). Coincidentally, they both studied architecture at MIT. But Leah (introduced to you in her recipephany for lemon vinaigrette) is an architect, mother of triplets, and a five-time champion on the TV show, Jeopardy. Take that, Kenji.

I’ve long admired Leah’s museum-quality decorated cookies, but her food art goes beyond the conventional. When she was at MIT and needed to supply snacks for a discussion group, she didn’t bring the usual box of crackers or cookies. Instead, she arrived with a model of the Thomas Jefferson quadrangle at UVA—complete with Rotunda and serpentine wall—built entirely of homemade Rice Krispies treats.

Fortunately for us, Leah also makes food art of the utmost simplicity. This easy, pop-art dessert with neon color and three-dimensional flavor proves it.

If, like me, you don’t have an ice cream machine but have a food processor or heavy-duty blender, use Recipephany’s simple method introduced for Double Chocolate Sorbet (Without an Ice Cream Machine). You’ll also need ice cube trays, which are inexpensive and valuable in many other kitchen hacks. Just pour the mixture of juices, pulp and sugar into the trays, freeze, then whir the cubes into a thick smoothie. It will refreeze into a smooth sorbet.

If you do use an ice-cream maker, follow Leah’s instructions. But even if you don’t have a food processor or blender, Leah has the solution with a hand-stir method. So, all bases covered.

Leah tells us, “Also called moro oranges, blood oranges are only available in winter and spring. So after you make the sorbet, hide some in the back of the freezer to have in warmer weather.” Great advice. Just don’t miss out—make sure to grab these oranges when you see them. And then dive into this recipe for the perfect marriage of art and science.

Leah’s Blood Orange Sorbet

Leah based this recipe on a formula from Harold McGee’s The Curious Cook.
Makes about a pint. Doubles and triples well.
Electric juicer recommended to extract maximum juice and pulp.

  • 1-1/2 cups fresh blood orange juice (about 6 large oranges if you use an electric juicer; maybe more without). We recommend including pulp, but that’s optional.
  • 11 tablespoons sugar
  • 3-4 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 large lemon). Don’t be afraid to put in extra; it will add sparkle.

1. Combine the juices, pulp and sugar in a stainless steel, enameled, or glass bowl, or large glass measuring cup. Stir for about a minute. Taste for sweetness—it should be slightly sweeter than you want because chilling will reduce sweetness. Too much tartness from too little sugar may result in larger ice crystals, producing more of a granita than a sorbet.

2. Follow one of these three methods for making sorbet.

Food processor or heavy-duty blender: Pour juice and pulp mixture carefully into two ice cube trays. Freeze for three hours, or until solid. Use a fork to stab the edge of each frozen cube and slide it into a food processor or blender. (This avoids turning over the ice cube tray, which can create a mess.) Whir until smooth. Spoon into a lidded plastic container (not full to the brim, because it will expand as it finishes freezing) and freeze until firm. (Photos show results of this method.)

OR:

Ice-cream maker: Leah recommends the simple non-electric type, with a freezing vessel you keep for a day in the freezer before you make the sorbet.

Chill mixture at least overnight in your refrigerator. When ready to make sorbet, move the bowl to the freezer for about 15 or more minutes (it depends on how much you’re making); you want the mixture to get so cold that it’s beginning to freeze at the perimeter. Then complete the freezing either according to the directions that come with your ice cream maker or until it’s evenly slushy. Pour this slush into a lidded plastic container (not full to the brim, because it will expand as it finishes freezing) and freeze for at least 12 hours before serving.

OR:

Without machines: Chill mixture at least overnight in your refrigerator. When ready to make sorbet, move the bowl to the freezer for about 15 or more minutes (it depends on how much you’re making); you want the mixture to get so cold that it’s beginning to freeze at the perimeter. Take the bowl from the freezer, stir with a rubber spatula, and freeze again for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat about 6 times. The idea is to keep the frozen crystals distributed so that you end up with an evenly-slushy mixture. Put this slush into a lidded plastic container (not full to the brim, because it will expand as it finishes freezing) and freeze for at least 12 hours before serving.

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2 responses to Leah’s Blood Orange Sorbet (Without an Ice Cream Machine)

  • There were still plenty of blood oranges at my local Market Basket last Wednesday, and I hear they’re at Trader Joe’s too.

    • Diane Brody says:

      Thanks, Leah! I know we’re getting close to the wire, but hopefully there will continue to be more this week and into May. Thanks again for contributing this signature recipe of yours. It will make lots of people happy!

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