Sorbet Science

Sorbet Science

Sorbet Science

One of the reasons I studied food science was to have a better understanding of why my recipes didn’t always work. Culinary creations would be successful only if I followed the recipe to the letter but if I played or strayed or cut corners there was a higher chance of missing the mark, I now understand the science behind chemical and physical changes when working with food. Why toast changes colour, how to whip cream into butter and whisk eggs into frothy masterpieces. Finding suitable substitutes for ingredients that were missing from my pantry to selecting the correct flour for light airy sponges and oven temperature for perfect omelettes has made me a better cook than my mum and almost as good as my Nanna because cooking “delicious” is an art.

Scientific Principles

I understand the principles of tempering chocolate and rearranging crystalline structures. I know where and when to adjust measurements without impacting on texture and taste. I can gel naturally extracted pectin to behave perfectly by shifting the pH. However, for all these skills I am not “master chef” material because for all the knowledge I have accumulated over the years, this doesn’t make up for my lack of patience to finesse.

Researching home brew and fizzy fruit fermentations for Cooper Brewery taught me about how to use a refractometer to measure Brix, a industry standard for measuring sugar levels. Such skills can be applied to all kinds of sugar solutions which is helpful in understanding the level required for sorbet to freeze but not become a solid block of ice.

Science Nerd

Passing on knowledge on has always given my learning purpose and thats probably why I ended up in the education system, first as a university tutor & demonstrator and eventually a secondary school science teacher. Now I am not going to get all geeky but my deep affection for science stems from wanting to understanding nature, solve everyday problems and follow a guiding set of practices and principles especially in my creative space “the kitchen”.

My love of kitchen equipment is well know to my family and I am a hoarder of cook books, kitchen equipment and recipe ideas. So today I am going to put them to good use and share with you how to tell the level of sweetness in fruit juice (a technique as opposed to reading the nutritional panel on the label. Consider this method a practical way to adjust sugar levels to make the perfect sorbet.

Egg Check

Depending on the type of fruit juice the sugar levels will vary. One quick way to adjust for this when making a sorbet is to use a clean egg and float it in your fruit juice. If it sinks below the surface there is not enough sugar. To adjust the solution keep adding simple syrup until the egg pops up and the top of the egg floats above the surface. Now that the sugar is adjusted add a splash of alcohol to ensure you have a soft smooth sorbet.

Tips for Texture

A couple of tips. Make sure to dilute the fruit juice as instructed so there is enough water to make lots of lovely ice crystals. When serving take the sorbet out of the freezer to warm up a little before serving. If you have left over sorbet stored in the freezer the texture hardens but you can temper the sorbet ice by melting and refreezing in the ice cream maker. No need for gums and stabilisers to insure a perfect soft sorbet texture.

Flavour Combinations

The following are yummy combinations of Fruit juice and Botanical Syrup flavours

  • Blackberry and Thyme
  • Strawberries and Lavender
  • Cranberry and Lime
  • Pomegranate and Hibiscus
  • Pineapple and Bitter Orange
  • Orange and Marmalade
  • Apple or Pear and Chocola
  • Grapefruit and Rosemary
  • Blueberry and Lemon
  • Lemon and Rose Garden



  1. Make sure the fruit juice is thin by diluting the juice with water
  2. Add 100 ml simple syrup to juice then check sugar levels (egg check)
  3. Adjust the sugar level accordingly with extra syrup
  4. Add alcohol of choice to the liquid solution
  5. Pour into an ice cream maker and proceed according to the manufactures instructions
  6. Freeze immediately – soft sorbet texture achieved in 4-6 hours
  7. Scoop to serve

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