A failed jelly transforms into a happy sorbet. I had been attempting to make a tomato (aka love apple) jelly using a pectin-making technique that involves melting down and draining green apples with tomatoes (like making herb jelly). I had followed what appeared to be an all-in-one technique in a new cookbook on preserving, which I now doubt. I’m in the camp that avoids powder or glop that magically gels liquid in the jam-making process. Halfway through making tomato jelly, I aborted the mission, pureed the apples (without skins and cores) and combined them with the tomatoes and sugar that were in the works. Hmmm. What to do with this tomato applesauce? Muffins?
The puree sat in my refrigerator for a couple of days until we were out of our weekly supply of sorbet. So I processed it, being prepared to toss the whole thing. Not at all! It was refreshing, familiar but elusive in taste, and well textured. For anyone who makes sorbet regularly, there’s an iciness factor to be overcome. You can call it granita or fix it. Artisanal shops have the capacity to introduce more air in the churning process. They might rely on invert sugar, which I’ve yet to try. But for the home cook with a conventional ice cream processor (mine’s from Krups, which uses a pre-chilled bowl), the texture of the contents is what keeps the sorbet creamy. Apples work, and so do plums, peaches, nectarines. Other types of fruit need some support, which includes adding a tablespoon of vodka or a complementary liqueur or, for some, a tablespoon of light (clear) corn syrup.
The happy accident of this apple and tomato sorbet is worth repeating, possibly drizzled with balsamic vinegar or saba (a fermented reduction with a balsamic base)… or maybe shredded basil, to pique the tomato flavor… or a pinch of cinnamon to complement the apples. Meanwhile, the trusty apple proves – once again – that it is the staple of the fruit world.
Apple and Tomato Sorbet
3 medium tomatoes, about 1- 1 ½ lb
3 granny smith or other tart apples, about 1 lb
1 c sugar (could reduce to ¾ c)
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
Chop the tomatoes and place them in a saucepan over high heat. Cook until the juices are rendered and cover the tomato chunks, 3-5 minutes. Remove the tomato chunks and reserve them, leaving the liquid in the saucepan. (Or strain the tomatoes through a sieve and capture the liquid to return to the pan.)
Meanwhile, peel and core the apples and cut them into chunks. Add them to the tomato liquid along with the sugar, and cook them slowly, stirring occasionally, until the apples are completely broken down.
Puree the apple mixture, add the tomato chunks and lemon juice and cool the mixture. If the mixture tastes “flat,” add a pinch of salt. Refrigerate the sorbet mix until very cold and process it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Makes about 1 quart.