Sorbet for Dessert

Over Yom Tov we serve lots of desserts. Sometimes we like to serve rich chocolate-flavored dishes or layered confections. Other times we prefer to serve something lighter. Fruit sorbets are just right for those occasions. This is also the perfect time of year to prepare sorbet because summer fruits are still flavorful and readily available.

The beauty of sorbet lies in its simplicity: It’s basically just frozen water or juice sweetened with fruit, chocolate, liqueur, wine, or even fresh herbs. Unlike sherbet and ice cream, sorbet typically contains no dairy, making it lower in fat than ice cream and a good choice for anyone who is lactose intolerant. From fruity strawberry sorbet to decadent chocolate sorbet, there are options to satisfy every taste.

The flavor of sorbet is very intense and really showcases perfectly ripe summer fruit, and a small serving goes a long way.

There are two tricks to making good sorbet. The first is to choose perfectly ripe fruit. Depending on how ripe the fruit is, it can vary a lot in sweetness and acidity. So start with the smallest amount of sugar and taste as you go, adding lemon juice if necessary. Remember that the flavors will intensify once the sorbet is frozen, so a mix that tastes moderately sweet before may be unbearably sweet after. Obviously, it may take some practice or a great recipe, but that just means you get to eat more sorbet.

The second trick is to add a small amount of alcohol. The alcohol won’t freeze, so it will give the sorbet a smoother, less grainy texture, and your sorbet won’t turn into a chunk of fruit-flavored ice. If you don’t want any alcohol flavor, use vodka. But an alcohol that complements the flavor of the fruit adds dimension.

These simple instructions will give you general directions for making sorbet from any type of fruit that is available. You can try your own version or go with one of our recipes below.

Purée 2 cups of soft fruit, such as berries, mangos, melon or peaches, adding up to ½ cup water to thin as needed. Taste and add 1 tablespoon vodka or fruit liqueur, plus up to 2 tablespoons lemon juice to give it some tartness and acidity.

Stir in the sugar, starting with ½ cup, tasting frequently, until dissolved; add more sugar as needed, up to 1¼ cup. Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to the machine’s directions or pour the mixture into a wide shallow container and freeze for an hour. Break up the frozen chunks and purée them in the food processor and refreeze for a few hours before serving.

If you choose to make a citrus sorbet, use 2 cups freshly squeezed juice plus 1 tablespoon zest. Alternately, you can substitute 2 cups of any fruit juice for the puréed fruit, if you like.

Strawberry Peppercorn Sorbet

Don’t leave the peppercorns out of this recipe. As unusual as it sounds, they give the sorbet an added kick.


1 cup sugar

1 cup water

2 Tbs. coarsely crushed black peppercorns

6 cups sliced strawberries (about 2 lbs.) (If using frozen, thaw completely.)

2 Tbs. strawberry or other fruit liqueur

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice


Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Stir in peppercorns; let stand 20 minutes.

Drain sugar syrup through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Place half of sugar syrup, half of sliced strawberries, half the liqueur and fresh lemon juice in a blender, and process until smooth. Pour puréed mixture into a bowl. Repeat the procedure with remaining sugar syrup and sliced strawberries and liqueur.

Pour mixture into an ice-cream maker; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Or follow our directions above regarding freezing and reblending. Cover and freeze 4 hours or until firm.

Rhubarb Sorbet

The addition of brown sugar gives this sorbet a caramel-like flavor that is fantastic!


5 cups sliced rhubarb (about 1 ¼ lbs.)

1 quart water

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar (not brownulated)

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice


Combine rhubarb and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook 10 minutes. Remove from heat; strain mixture through a sieve into a bowl, pressing rhubarb with the back of a spoon to remove as much liquid as possible. Discard rhubarb. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, and juice; stir until sugars dissolve. Cover and chill.

Pour mixture into an ice-cream maker; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Or follow our directions above regarding freezing and reblending. Cover and freeze 4 hours or until firm. Remove sorbet from freezer 10 minutes before serving.


Pear Sorbet

Fresh ginger adds amazing flavor to this sorbet.


8 Bartlett or Anjou pears

2 Tbs. lemon juice

2 Tbs. grated fresh ginger

2 Tbs. pear liqueur

¾ cup sugar

1½ cups water


Peel and cut pears into chunks, removing seeds. Place in a medium pot and sprinkle with lemon juice. Add ginger and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add sugar, liqueur and water and cook until sugar has dissolved.

Remove from heat and let pears cool. Place only pears in a food processor and purée until smooth. Discard liquid. Transfer to a bowl and freeze 1 hour. Remove from freezer and re-blend purée, either in a mixer or food processor. Freeze until serving.


One should consult a Rav regarding checking of problematic fruits and vegetables for infestation.