At its best, sorbet is simply fruit transformed. Crisp slices and whole berries are perfect in May and June, but by the last stretch of summer, I crave all sorts of icy but melty goodness. Late August calls for a lush cup of sorbet.
This no-churn nectarine version will help to stave off the restless feeling that kicks in when we realize the days are getting shorter again. Flavorful and refreshing, it does not require any special equipment other than a blender, which you likely have on the counter already for cocktails (and mocktails!). Eat it icy or let it melt as you join me in an August wish:
“If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe…”
– Evelyn Waugh
2 pounds of ripe nectarines
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¾ cup water
½ cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
For this sorbet, essentially we will be making a simple syrup and adding it to pureed, ripe fruit. Add in a couple of other ingredients, some whisking, and a freezer, and dessert is done. Since you won’t be cooking the fruit, make sure to pick the ripest, juiciest nectarines. Look for ones give slightly when gently squeezed, and don’t be fooled by the red blush. The red skin of a nectarine is determined by its variety and does not indicate ripeness. As you hunt for the best nectarines, examine the stem end and the yellow background, leaving behind any that are tinged with green or just not golden enough.
Begin combining the water and sugar in a small saucepan to make a simple syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and allow the syrup to come to room temperature.
Meanwhile peel and pit the nectarines. Rough chop the fruit, put in a blender or food processor along with the lemon juice, and puree.
Place a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl. Pour the nectarine mixture into the sieve and use a wooden spoon to work the mixture through, leaving the pulp behind in the sieve. The mixture will be thick, but if you keep pressing and working it through, you will be able to remove most of the pulp.
Return the nectarine mixture to the blender. Add the salt and half of the simple syrup. Process until well-combined and then taste. While you will probably want to add most of the remaining syrup, this will depend on the sugar content of the fruit itself. At this stage, sorbet should be just slightly sweeter than you wanted the finished dessert, since freezing will dull the sweetness somewhat.
Pour into a non-reactive loaf pan, such as a glass one, and freeze for about 4 hours, whisking every 30 minutes until it seems set. If the sorbet is still slushy, you can freeze it for longer. Keep an eye on the sorbet, as no-churn versions will become quite solid after about 6 hours. If you serve it beyond this point, allow it to soften in the refrigerator before scooping.
For an even creamier sorbet with a lighter color, give it a whirl in the blender once it starts to get icy. Then smooth back into the loaf pan and finish chilling.