Rhubarb produces a rather creamy mixture for sorbet, as do various berries. Keeping sorbet from becoming icy is sometimes a challenge. Some recipes recommend adding a little alcohol, say a tablespoon or two of Grand Marnier. Others recommend a couple of tablespoons of light corn syrup, which while it sounds disgusting (corn syrup being the culprit in the obesity debate), it actually does seem to make a difference. While making this, I realized that whipping a lot of air into the mix does the trick just as well. Unlike some sorbets that I make, yielding 1 pint, or 1 ½, this time I made a full 3. It stretched the volume on my ice cream maker but the result was a smooth and creamy mixture that stayed that way after being frozen for a couple of days.
I have made this plain, with grated orange peel, ginger, and now vanilla bean. I had made a peach sorbet last week with peaches canned in vanilla syrup so vanilla was on my mind. It was a great combination with the rhubarb. I found that reserving some of the stewed rhubarb and adding it to the puree provided a nice texture. This was lovely topped with a few of the season’s first strawberries.
Rhubarb-Vanilla Sorbet (makes 6 cups)
1 ½ lbs rhubarb, in ¾-inch chunks (around 6 cups)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
½ vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped out, both reserved
2 tbsp light corn syrup
Prepare the rhubarb. Make a simple syrup of water and sugar, bringing it to a boiling point and stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the vanilla bean (just the shell), lemon juice and rhubarb and simmer until the rhubarb is soft. Set aside to cool slightly. Reserve a couple of spoons of stewed rhubarb. Add the seeds from the vanilla bean and the corn syrup to the rhubarb, and puree it in a food processor. Add the reserved stewed rhubarb. After the mixture has cooled, chill it thoroughly in the refrigerator for several hours before processing in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.