Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Blood Orange Sorbet

When life gives you a blood orange tree that has produced waaaay too many fruit, what do you do with them? One of life's penultimate conundrums...

Blood oranges are highly seasonal - they usually ripen around December and, on the rare occasions that they make their appearance in your local market, they're definitely on the pricey side. So after about 4 1/2 years, our 'Moro' Blood Orange tree, despite its modest size (under 5' tall) has produced its biggest crop ever of probably over 100 fruit. That's compared to the 6 fruits we harvested last winter. Go figure. Fresh blood oranges are great to eat as is, juiced, or added to salads (my fav is with baby greens, thinly sliced red onion, avocados, pinch of salt & pepper, and a drizzle of good quality olive oil). 

In my search for any and all ideas on how else to use this pulchritudinous fruit (and it really is a stunner, both inside and out), I came across David Lebovitz's recipe for Blood Orange sorbet over on his blog http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/02/blood-orange-so/ . The ingredients were so simple: just freshly squeezed blood orange juice, sugar and a bit of sparkling wine (optional). You can't go wrong with that! Well, except for the fact that I didn't own an ice cream/sorbet maker. Not that you can't make a sorbet without one, but from everything I had read, the texture/consistency will come out better if you use one of these contraptions. So, I dragged Gil over to Bed, Bath & Beyond last weekend and coerced him into buying me a Cuisinart, which was under $100 - not too cheap but not too expensive. 

If you've never seen a blood orange before, it's a sight to behold when you cut into a ripened fruit. The flesh is an amazing hue of maroon red. The amount of the red pigment, aka 'anthocyanins,' in each fruit seems to vary according to degree of ripeness. 

According to Wiki, "The Moro is the most colorful of the blood oranges, with a deep red flesh and a rind that has a bright red blush. The flavor is stronger and the aroma is more intense than a normal orange. This fruit has a distinct, sweet flavor with a hint of raspberry. This orange is more bitter than the Tarocco or the Sanguinello. The Moro variety is believed to have originated at the beginning of the 19th century in the citrus-growing area around Lentini (in the Province of Siracusa in Sicily) as a bud mutation of the "Sanguinello Moscato"The Moro is a "deep blood orange", meaning that the flesh ranges from orange-veined with ruby coloration, to vermilion, to vivid crimson, and nearly to black. "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_orange 

I basically followed David Lebovitz's recipe to a tee, and it was just delicious! Too bad we don't get blood oranges during the hot summer months, when this sorbet would really, really hit the spot! I'll bet in its slushier form, it would make a fab margarita...

4 cups (1 quart) of freshly squeezed blood orange juice (30-40 fruits, depending on size)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sparkling wine or champagne

1. Pour the sugar into a saucepan. Add about 1 cup of the blood orange juice to the sugar and stir to combine. Heat over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until sugar has completely dissolved. 

2. Pour the sugar mixture back into the remaining blood orange juice. Stir in the sparkling wine, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to let it chill. Once the mixture is completely chilled, add it to your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

For the bubbly, I used our local Temecula Valley Almond Champagne from Wilson Creek Winery, which we had recently stocked up on for the holiday season (it's a very pleasant tasting almond champagne that's also very reasonably priced). The addition of a bit of sparkling wine does not change the taste of the sorbet, but because alcohol doesn't freeze, your sorbet won't turn rock hard in the freezer and will be much easier to scoop. 

The color of each fruit varies. 

Juice the oranges. Pulp is ok - no need to strain the juice except to get rid of any seeds.

The color of the juice is unreal - I wouldn't call it 'blood'-hued, but more like raspberry jam. 

Add 1 cup of sugar & 1 cup of the juice to a sauce pan.

Stir over medium heat 4-5 minutes until sugar has completely dissolved.

Add the sugar-juice mixture back to the remaining juice.

Stir in 1/2 cup of sparkling wine. Cover & refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Pour chilled mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

Our Cuisinart comes with a 2-qt. insulated freezer bowl (which you pre-freeze in the freezer), and is electric, so churns the sorbet mixture automatically. After 40 minutes, however (it should have only taken about 25 minutes), it was still on the slushy side, so I poured the mixture into a Ziploc container and put it in the freezer. By the next morning, the consistency was just perfect. 

The consistency of the sorbet was just right after a night in the freezer.

Garnished with some fresh apple mint from the garden.

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