Damson sorbet

DamsonsThe crop on our little damson tree this year is more than bumper, and I’m very loathe to leave kilos of the fruit on the trees for our hungry birds. This sorbet came about as a miscalculation. I was making jam, but had so much fruit pulp that when I added the sugar it threatened to run over the top of my jam-making pot. So I scooped some out of the pot and into the ice cream maker (after sufficient time for cooling, obviously). The effect was explosive.

Plums – 1kg
Sugar – 5 tbsp

For this sorbet I use wild plums – I call them damsons – from the spindly tree that grows in the middle of the vegetable garden. They are tiny, with a flavour that, raw, passes more or less directly from mouth-puckeringly sour to rather bland as they ripen. Cooked, however, they are marvellous at any stage. Any rather tart plum will do.

Put the fruit in a saucepan with a couple of centimetres of water and cook it until it’s soft. Sit a colander – the type you use to drain pasta, preferably with quite large-ish holes – over a big bowl. When the damsons have cooled a little, spoon them bit by bit into the colander and rub them through with a rubber spatula, working until most of the flesh has come off the stones, which should be discarded.

Depending on the fleshiness of the fruit and the amount of water you added, you may find you have more fruit pulp than your ice cream maker can cope with. Ladle the appropriate amount (generally 800 ml or so) back into the saucepan and put it over a gentle heat in order to dissolve the sugar as you add it. I recommend adding the sugar gradually, and tasting as you do so: how much you’ll need depends on how sweet the plums were to begin with, and how sweet a tooth you have.

When the sugar has dissolved, cool the mixture thoroughly. I find that pouring it into a wide metal bowl which is sitting in a sink full of cold water helps. When the mix has cooled right down, I leave it in the fridge for an hour or so before beginning the icy bit.

Follow your ice cream maker’s instructions, or see here for hints on how to proceed if you don’t possess this wonderful piece of equipment.

The sorbet that results is as dense as any ice cream – indeed, I have had trouble persuading non-dairy-eating guests that it really consisted of nothing but fruit and sugar – and the flavour is incredibly intense. To make it even more so, add a little sugar to any left-over fruit pulp, put it in a small pot, and stir it over a medium heat until it reduces by about a third for a fantastic syrup to pour over this sorbet… or over any other ice cream or sorbet.

©Anne Hanley, 2015

About Gardens, Food & Umbria

I am a garden and landscape designer, working throughout central Italy and beyond. I have lived in Italy for over 35 years – first in Rome but now in Città della Pieve, Umbria, where I have restored my country home and transformed a medieval townhouse into three rental suites. To relax, I tinker endlessly with two and a half hectares of land, some of which is my garden.
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