Hello, I’m Carol Anne from Rock Salt, and I will be your blogger for today. When I was asked to write a guest post for the blog I was really excited, but kind of nervous, too. I’ve never written for anyone else’s blog before, and I didn’t want to lower the tone of her blog with any old drivel… Thank you for inviting me, I am pleased to be here.
You’d expect me to be waxing lyrical about one of our Scottish delicacies. Haggis, maybe, or venison, or cranachan or something whiskey related. I did want to feature something Scottish in this post, but you know, I just couldn’t seem to get it together. A lot of the foods we hold dear are really designed for cold weather – for obvious reasons – and I’m given to understand that much of the Northern hemisphere is experiencing something called ‘summer’ right now, even if we aren’t… So I thought I’d try my hand at something a bit lighter, more refreshing and perfect for hot and sunny weather – a sorbet.
This sorbet was a chance meeting of ingredients that had been rattling around my kitchen for a little too long; a galia melon which had taken up what felt like permanent residence in the fridge, and a bottle of elderflower presse which had been living on the counter since I’d opened it to use in a cocktail and callously abandoned it, months ago. One day I looked at the melon, looked at the presse, looked back at the melon… An idea took form. The fact that I was given an ice cream maker recently probably had quite a lot to do with it.
This is such a simple recipe, I’m not even sure if it counts as one. Perhaps it’s more of an idea than an actual recipe. I did, however, add one ingredient right out of left field – it’s optional, but it gave the flavours a real boost. It’s celery cocktail bitters. I know. Not something most people have in the cupboard. I happen to be the kind of person who does, and I’m glad of it more often than you might imagine. Here’s the lowdown on the sherbet:
- 1 ripe galia melon
- 1 cup sparkling elderflower presse (this is ready to drink, not to be confused with concentrated cordial)
- 40 drops celery bitters
One of the things I love about this sorbet is its delicate colour, which of course comes straight from the melon. It’s almost a pastel shade, very delicate and gentle. Start by quartering the fruit and scooping out the seeds with a spoon.
Slide a sharp knife in under the rind of each quarter to take it off in one fell swoop, then cut the flesh into cubes and place in a blender. Add the elderflower presse and puree until liquid.
You will find that there is some melon pulp that doesn’t want to join in the party, giving the puree a cloudy appearance. You can leave it, if you like, but I wanted a smooth sorbet that would dissolve on the tongue. To achieve this, I passed the puree through a fine mesh strainer into a jug, a little at a time. I used a wooden spatula to press the more recalcitrant parts of the pulp through and in the end there was only a small amount left that wouldn’t play along; most of the pulp broke down sufficiently to pass through the strainer.
At this stage I had an interesting layered effect in the jug, with the juice at the bottom and the strained pulp at the top. I also thought that the colour had become more intense over time – what do you think? I added the celery bitters to the jug and mixed well, before chilling in the fridge for several hours. The trick to my ice cream maker is ensuring that the mixture you want to freeze is very cold before you start. You could also just pour the strained puree into a shallow lidded dish and freeze it as-is – the texture wouldn’t be as smooth but the taste would be just as good.
Once the melon and elderflower puree was thoroughly chilled, I started up the ice cream maker and got churning. After about ten minutes I could see that the sorbet was mostly frozen, with just a little liquid remaining at the bottom. I stopped the machine, gave it a quick stir and churned for another five minutes, at which time I had a nice softly set sorbet. I scooped this into a lidded dish and put into the freezer overnight.
The next day, my sorbet was ready! The colour is so pretty, I definitely think it intensifies as the process goes on, but it’s miles away from the garish, glowing green of a melon liqueur. Sometimes nature does colours well enough on its own, people. It smells wonderful too – very delicate and floral, no sticky sweetness here. The texture is very fragile, meaning you can’t just get a hearty scoop of it out of the tub but have to do a bit of scraping around. It flakes apart in the bowl and on the tongue. Very refreshing!
You can serve the sorbet as it comes as a palate cleanser between courses, or for dessert, or for a snack on a hot day. If you want to take it up a notch, you can pour over a little of a suitable alcoholic treat. That garish melon liqueur would be appropriate (I do have a soft spot for it), or if you are very fancy you might have some St. Germain, which is made with elderflowers and would probably be exactly right for the job. You could also experiment with a little prosecco, the bubbles would complement the light sorbet just beautifully.