This quick and easy watermelon sorbet contains nothing but ripe fruit. It’s sweet (even without any added sugar), creamy (even without any added fat), slightly icy, and really refreshing. Since this sorbet is only made with fruit, it’s vegan (dairy-free, egg-free), grain-free (gluten-free), soy-free, nut-free, and refined sugar-free.
Sorbet is a simple combination of fresh fruit purée or fruit juice and sugar, along with other flavoring ingredients. The basic formula is four cups fruit purée to one cup sugar.
A sugar concentration between 20% to 30% will generally produce a scoopable, creamy sorbet. Add less and your sorbet will be too icy to scoop; add more and it may never freeze. Hit the sugar level just right and the sorbet will taste creamy and melt evenly across your tongue.
The role of sugar in frozen desserts is a starring one because it lowers the freezing point of water. As water freezes, it forms hydrogen bonds, which normally join together into a solid mass (like an ice cube). With the addition of sugar, the time for the water to freeze increases because the sugar molecules are in the way. The higher the concentration of sugar, the lower the freezing point. The lower the freezing point, the smaller the chance of large crystals of ice forming.
The size of the ice crystals largely determines the texture of the finished sorbet – how fine or grainy it eventually turns out. It also determines the perceived temperature of sorbet – grainy sorbet will feel colder on the palate compared to a more smooth-textured mix. The main objective is therefore to keep the size of the ice crystals as small as possible.
So, what if you want to make all-fruit, no sugar-added sorbet at home? Honestly, taking the sugar completely out and expecting a smooth and scoopable sorbet is unrealistic. However, there is a way to get around it.
Tips for Making Watermelon Sorbet
The simplest recipes are the best. This watermelon sorbet is more of an idea than a recipe. You can use any frozen fruit to make instant fruit sorbet although some fruit works better than other.
- Watermelon: out of the all fruit, watermelon is actually one of the trickiest to work with when it comes to sorbet. Watermelon juices are thin with no body and require special handling to make their textures as thick and creamy as berry or stone fruit sorbets. On the positive side, watermelon is very high in sugar, so there is no need for an added sweetener. Look for a watermelon that feels heavy for its size and that sounds deep and hollow when you tap it. If you hear a dull sound, the watermelon is likely either under- or over-ripe. If you do happen to not have a very sweet watermelon, feel free to add a sweetener of choice. Remember that freezing dulls sweet flavor.
- Bananas: the trick to making this watermelon sorbet smooth and slightly creamy is adding high-pectin or high-fiber fruit, which are high in viscosity and full of body. That’s because pectin and fiber act as thickeners, their long starchy molecules working like sugar to physically get in the way of growing ice crystals. If you don’t like bananas, you can use other high-fiber fruit, such as mangoes or even pears, but I find that bananas balance the iciness of the watermelon the best. Look for bananas that are ripe and spotty.
How to Make Watermelon Sorbet
- Freeze the watermelon. You can either cut the watermelon into 1-inch/2.5-cm cubes or scoop out the flesh using a melon baller. Arrange the watermelon in a single layer onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and freeze until firm, 4-5 hours. (I usually freeze mine overnight). The watermelon needs to be fully frozen otherwise it will turn into a slushy as you start blending it.
- Freeze the bananas. Cut the bananas into 1-inch/2.5-cm thick slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and freeze until firm, 3-4 hours. While I typically freeze banana thirds for smoothies, it’s better to slice the bananas when making frozen desserts (since there is no or very little liquid). The smaller the slices, the faster they will break down.
- Blend. Place the frozen fruit into a high-speed blender or a heavy duty food processor and blend until smooth. If the motor is struggling, let the fruit sit for a minute or two to slightly thaw and then blend again. Refrain from adding any liquid.
How to Serve Sugar-Free Sorbet
As I already mentioned, traditional sorbet has a lot of sugar added to it, which allows for a softer and scoopable consistency.
Since this watermelon sorbet has no added sugar (and watermelon is so high in water), it hardens as it freezes. You can freeze it for an hour or so for a firmer consistency, but anything longer will yield a rock-solid sorbet. So, serve the sorbet right away, ideally straight out of the blender.
If you made too much and would like to save the leftovers, you can put the sorbet in the freezer for later. However, you will need to break it up and blend it again when you want to serve it. It will be just like sorbet as soon as it’s blended.
Tools You’ll Need
1. Blender (Vitamix A3500) | 2. Griddle (12-Inch, Lodge, Cast Iron) | 3. Knife Set (6 Pieces, Utopia, Stainless Steel) | 4. Cutting Board (24″x 18″, Michigan Maple Block, Maple) | 5. Measuring Cups (Set of 6, Bellemain, Stainless Steel) |
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- 4 cups watermelon , cubed and frozen*
- 1 cup bananas , sliced and frozen**
- Blend. Add the frozen watermelon and bananas into a high-speed blender (or a food processor) and blend until smooth. If using a blender, use the tamper to push the ingredients down into the blade. If using a food processor, pulse to first chop the fruit and then puree until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. If the motor seems to be struggling, stop and pause for a moment to let the bananas thaw slightly. Don't add any liquid, if possible.
- Serve. Divide the sorbet into serving bowls and serve immediately. You can also transfer the sorbet into an airtight container and freeze for 1-2 hours (not longer!) for a firmer, more scoopable consistency.
- Store. Leftovers keeps well in an airtight container in the freezer for 1-2 weeks. The sorbet will freeze rock solid. Blend again to achieve sorbet consistency.
**Cut the bananas into 1-inch/2.5-cm thick slices. Arrange the slices in a single layer onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and freeze until firm, 3-4 hours.
***Prep time does not include freezing the fruit (~5 hours).
****Nutrition information is approximate and may contain errors. Please, feel free to make your own calculations.