I came home with a bag of Bartlett pears and a mission to turn them into my first sorbet-something that tasted very fresh, maybe a litte Italian, with something honeyed & herbal lingering in the background. Sounded like a good idea but I didn't have a recipe specifically for pears, so I cobbled together various tips & ideas from Hounds, cookbooks, and websites.
One big issue that loomed over the sorbet was how to keep the fresh pear flavor & perfume intact. I didn't want to cook the fruit, introduce lemon flavor or other acids, and feared macerating would turn the pears brown and unappetizing. And I knew I had to work a lot faster than my usual daydreaming style. Here's what I came up with.
4 c roughly chopped pears, about 3 lbs
1 c sugar
2 t sage honey
3 T gin
1 T dry vermouth
1 t water
First combined sugar, honey, salt, gin, vermouth, and water in a large saucepan. Whisked to start the sugar dissolving. Heated the pan on the stovetop for a few seconds to melt the sugar more. Placed in the fridge to cool for 5 minutes.
Started peeling the pears (saving 2 pears' worth of peel for flavor), quickly chopping and placing them in the saucepan with the sugar mixture and stirring to coat. Once done, placed the mixture in a blender/processer (along with reserved peel) and blended into an even puree.
Immediately processed in the ice cream maker for about 25 minutes, stopping every 10 minutes to stir the mixture thoroughly. It looked like frozen apple sauce and firmed up considerably in the freezer.
Results-very pleased with the texture. Despite the frantic prepping pace to keep the pears pale, it came together fairly quickly. 5 hours + in the freezer after churning, the sorbet wasn't icy at all and actually had a bit of creaminess. I liked how the alcohol kept the mixture from freezing too hard or becoming snowy. The texture seemed very evenly churned compared to ice creams I'd made before & more forgiving in general.
The flavor was very good-the concentrated essence of pear was the dominant flavor . I feared the honey might make it too sweet, but it worked well with the spicyiness of the pears. Judy Rodgers said to make a sorbet base sweeter than you'd drink it as a beverage, but not cloying. The herbal notes were in the background enough to simply compliment. The pear peel added a gentle bitter edge that was delicious.The slight grit of fresh pear was also there, not enough to annoy, but as a natural texture of the fruit. I don't know how you'd avoid those fine particles if you wanted a perfectly smooth product.
The sorbet didn't start to brown until it was kept out of the freezer for more than 15 minutes. It stayed remarkably pale while frozen, even 3 days later.