Melon Sorbet Garnished with Melon Chips and Chile
Sometimes I get a little melon-crazy. I’ve been known to buy three different kinds of melon in the same day at the farmers market! Making sorbet and drying melon slices are two techniques for preserving this seasonal perfection.
After years of trying random recipes, I think I’ve finally cracked the code on how to make a great sorbet. It needs to be about 20–30 percent sugar. Less, and it will turn out hard or grainy. More, and it may not freeze solid at all. Replacing a quarter of that sugar with smooth, viscous corn syrup (which is mostly glucose and not at all the same thing as high fructose corn syrup) gives it body and helps make it more creamy and scoopable. Fruit with a lot of fiber or pectin will also give a sorbet more body. Most fruits are about 90 percent water, so a ratio of 4 cups of fruit to 1 cup of sugar is almost always just right.
The coarseness of the ice crystals that are formed while freezing is determined by the agitation and the rate of freezing. In my old-fashioned salt and ice machine, the more salt you use on the ice around the outside of the container, the quicker the ice cream freezes, and therefore the finer the crystals and the creamier the texture. If I use a whole cup of salt, it’s done in 20 minutes!
Drying melon slices into crispy chips is a delightful way to intensify and preserve the flavor of cantaloupe, honeydew, watermelon, or any other melon. This process is easiest in a dehydrator, but you can also make them in the oven at its lowest setting—either method takes overnight.
Servings: 2 pints
- 1 large cantaloupe
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- Red chile powder
Cut the melon in half and scoop out the seeds. Chop one half into cubes and measure out 4 cups for the sorbet.
Cut the remaining melon into 1/4-inch thick slices and remove the rind. Set oven to its lowest temperature (mine goes down to 170°F). Lay the slices on a rack over a tray, and dry them for about 6–8 hours. It helps to open the oven periodically to release steam.
Combine melon cubes, sugar, lime juice, and corn syrup in a blender; blend until smooth. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Add to ice cream machine and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Put it in the freezer for a few more hours to set, or just serve immediately, garnished with a melon chip or two and a sprinkle of chile powder.