Peaches are a perfect summer fruit and are at their peak right now as we come towards the end of summer. I wanted to find a delicious recipe that would take advantage of this, and uncovered a recipe for Peach Sorbet in an old family recipe book. I have altered it slightly to create what I’m sure will become a firm favourite summer dessert. Peaches have been cultivated in China for thousands of years and were a favourite food of Chinese Emperors. They were brought to South America by Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century and to England, France and then the Northern American colonies in the seventeenth century.
The history of the sorbet is rather vague and much of it is mixed with myth. It seems to have developed simultaneously with ice cream, meaning it is hard to distinguish the two. According to some folklore, the Roman Emperor, Nero, invented sorbet in the first century AD, sending servants to collect ice from the mountains to create an expensive and fashionable semi-frozen sweetened fruit drink. Some people believe that when Marco Polo visited China he was the first European to taste the sorbet, athough this is debated. In Europe, for many centuries frozen treats like sorbet and ice cream could only be found in Italy. However, by the sixteenth century, they started spreading across Europe, with many believing that it was Catherine de Medici who brought it with her when she married Henry II of France in 1533. By the mid-1600s, the European nobility were enjoying ices as a delicacy.
Due to the difficulty of maintaining a constant supply of ice, for centuries sorbet remained a dessert exclusively for the wealthy. This problem began to be solved with the invention of refridgerators and freezers. After this, sorbets and other frozen food became cheaper and more widely available.
Unlike ice cream, it is water-based rather than diary-based, and therefore can be categorised as vegan (and also slightly healthier). Normally it is flavoured with fruit or liqueur. It was traditionally served between courses as a palate cleanser, however it is now eaten as a desert.
You do not need an ice cream maker to make this sorbet. To get the slushy texture of normal sorbet, it will need to be stirred every hour for the first four or five hours after initially being placed in the freezer. However, this is not necessary; it will still end up just as delicious (just slightly more solid!) If you opt out of the stirring process, you might find it better to freeze the sorbet in individual pots or in ice lolly (popsicle) moulds.
This recipe is extremely quick and easy to do, and it can easily be achieved using other types of fruit (I myself have also successfully tried it with nectarines).
- 4 ripe peaches
- 1/2 cup or 90g sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 pint / 568 ml of water
- Pour the water in a saucepan, place the peaches in the water and gently heat for about 5 minutes
- Remove the peaches and save the water
- Peel the peaches, remove the stone and purée. To do this, I used a hand blender. To get rid of small lumps that remain after blender, you can press the lumps through a sieve using the back of a spoon
- Add the sugar to the water and heat gently until dissolved
- Remove the pan from the heat and cool
- Add the lemon juice and then stir in the puréed peaches
- Freeze in an open container
- Optional: After about an hour, remove from the freezer and stir with a fork before returning to the freezer. Repeat about 4 or 5 times
- Remove from the freezer about 15-20 minutes before serving
This sorbet makes a light and refreshing dessert, perfect for the summer. I hope you like it!
I’d love to know what you think about sorbet; is it a great, healthier alternative to ice cream? Or would you choose ice cream every time? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!