06 October 2011

The Last Taste of Summer: Watermelon Lemonade Sorbet

One of the advantages of living in a warm climate is that Summer's bounty lasts just a liiiiittle longer.  I'm a summer girl so the disappearance of tomatoes and the shorter days tends to make me a little blue.

A week or so ago I squirreled away a bowling ball of a watermelon in the back of the fridge.  I like my watermelon cold, but I have to admit I kept this one around longer than usual just because I didn't want to say goodbye to summer days with their promise of vacations, barbeques, short skirts and sandals.  I put it off eating it as long as I could, but I knew I was fast approaching the point of use-it-or-lose-it.

I used it.

It timed perfectly with finishing Jeni Britton Bauer's new ice cream book.  It's a beautiful book full of unique recipes and geeky food science facts that people like me lap up like cream--preferably frozen!

Since my watermelon was calling me, I busted out my ice cream machine and tried Jeni's Watermelon Lemonade Sorbet recipe.

Sorbet's success rests in the sweet hands of sugar.

Sugar keeps ice balls at bay and in combination with chilled churning makes for a smooth texture.  Too little sugar and you get crunchy, fruity ice.  A good safety check is to taste the base before you freeze it.  It should taste much sweeter than what you would want the sorbet to be.  That's one way to check you're on track before you finish it.

What Happened:
This recipe is so simple.  Quick too.  Basically, you puree some watermelon, add it to lemon simple syrup and freeze it.  Voila.  You could even buy watermelon cubes and bypass the step of breaking down a watermelon.

The Results:
The finished sorbet is really brightly flavored thanks to the "lemonade."  I was happy the watermelon flavor didn't get overpowered by the lemon.  It's smooth and sweet and very well-balanced.

Even with my mistake of over-churning just a bit, the texture survived.  That's how good the recipe is.  Water and sugar are in balance.  The corn syrup helps with this too.

Yeah, it tastes like late summer.  Sigh...

I'll definitely make this again.

          A word on corn syrup.  This is not high fructose corn syrup so don't 
          be afraid.  That doesn't mean you want to go crazy, but by using it 
          in your recipes you're not hooking you or your families on sugar-crack!
          Corn syrup is less sweet than granulated sugar and one of its main 
          properties is that it prevents the crystallization of sugar--our main 
          goal in making frozen treats!

What I Would Change:
Over-churned--don't do this (but it ended up ok).
  • Don't over-churn it next time.  It's supposed to be like soft-whipped cream.  I got distracted and it went a bit too far.  I will get it right next time!
  • I added a pinch of salt to the watermelon.  I like my watermelon salted.  If you have a pale melon, it could help coax out more of the melon's flavor.
  • Next time I will steep some fresh mint in the puree before I freeze it.  Watermelon and lemon both love mint and that screamed out to me with each spoonful.
If you find a lonely bit of watermelon and you're mourning the loss of summer, whip this up.  It's yummy.

Watermelon Lemonade Sorbet
makes about a quart

1       small watermelon (or 2 pints of watermelon cubes)
1/2 c  fresh lemon juice (3 lemons)
1/2 c  sugar
1/4 c  light corn syrup

pinch  salt (optional)
1/4 c  fresh mint (optional)

Cut enough watermelon flesh** in small cubes to make about 4 cups.  Remove the seeds (if applicable) and reserve a few black ones to stir back into the sorbet after freezing if you want.

Puree the melon (with salt) in a food processor or blender.  Measure out 2 1/2 cups of puree and transfer to a medium bowl.  Reserve the rest of the watermelon for another use.  Measure out the remaining ingredients.

Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

Combine the lemon juice, sugar and corn syrup in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Remove from the heat.

Whisk the lemon syrup into the pureed watermelon puree. (Add mint, if using.)  Pour the mixture iinto a 1-gallon freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath.  Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes. (If using mint let steep at least 1 hour or longer.  Strain before spinning.)

Pour the sorbet base into the canister of your ice cream maker ans spin just until it is the consistency of very softly whipped cream.

Pack the sorbet into a storage container, tossing in a few black watermelon seeds if you've got them.  Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid.  Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Let sit on counter 10 minutes before scooping and serving.

**How To Break Down A Whole Watermelon**

Slice off both ends of the watermelon.

Set the watermelon on one sliced end on a cutting board.  Using a sharp knife remove the rind in strips cutting along the contour of the melon.

Repeat until all the rind is removed.

Slice 1-inch slabs of watermelon and cut into cubes.


  1. beautiful!

  2. How long is too long? I had the same problem, but it went from runny to "over churned" in two minutes! My ice cream maker is a pain to remove the lid .. I can't just keep pulling the whole motor off the top.

    Still, the end product was scrumptious!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it!! Reminded me that I need to make this again--SOON. Are you asking how many minutes? If so, that will vary from machine to machine (annoying, I know), but on my machine the sweet spot tends to be about 34 minutes. I have a Cuisinart compressor ice cream maker that's about 5 years old.