Sorbet making is simple, and the finished frozen assemblage is a very good palette cleanser for a complex, finely flavored meal.
For this reason, and because I bought two persimmons at Thanksgiving that were horridly unripe until the end of the year, I made a persimmon sorbet as the amuse bouche for a 2010 New Year’s Eve meal.
I mashed and pressed very ripe persimmons through a fine sieve. This took some time, but it gave me the opportunity to use a cool whisk/dough hook I got for Christmas.
I pressed the mash with a spoon as well to make sure I got all of the strained pulp. The actual minutes spent sieving was minor — 5 minutes total — although that is a long time doing any one thing, so I would press, let it sit and do other things for the meal I was preparing for New Year’s Eve 2010.
To make a sorbet, simply add 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water (with the husk of a vanilla bean, if you’d like the final product to have a vanilla flavor. Otherwise, add the flavor you’re looking for) and boil for 10 minutes. The syrup will thicken slightly, and then remove the vanilla bean, add the persimmon and 1 Tbs. lemon juice and 1 Tbs. vodka and combined in a stainless steel bowl. Covered with a plastic lid and put it in the freezer.
Every now and then, for the next 3 hours, I stirred the sorbet so the texture would be fine rather than jagged like ice cubes. My total stirring was once or twice every hour.
The persimmons taste is fruity but subtle, and dry with an almost chalky taste. In an unripe fruit it’s all chalk and inedible. The vodka and lemon added just the right brightness, and the vanilla made the aroma aphrodisiacal.
We served a golf-ball sized portion of this sorbet in wine glasses on a little drizzle of a dry red cherry liquor and placed a fried sage leaf or two on top. (Take sage leaves from the garden, wash and pat dry. Fry in a small amount of olive oil for less than a minute, and just until they shrivel. Drain on paper towel and sprinkle with great salt.)
This course was served with a sparkling Vouvray from Marczyk’s Wines. The wine was subtle — like the persimmon’s fruitiness — and dry. The smell of the Vouvray was stronger and more acerbic than champagne and with the vanilla in the sorbet was almost a focusing agent. The salty fried sage leaves reminded us that savory food was soon to come.