October 1, 2009

Sometimes natural colours are the brightest of all.

Streamvale's Raspberry Sorbet

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always regarded the sorbet as a bit of a second-class citizen in the ice cream world. There’s something about it that just screams ‘virtuous’ and ‘boring’. Even now, after I have tasted some truly superb sorbets, I still have that irrational knee-jerk reaction against sorbets when I see them displayed alongside ice creams in an ice cream parlour. And there’s no denying it. Sometimes, only a 99 will do. Or indeed, some honeycomb ice cream…

But I am feeling a bit bad about my persistent, pointless and ultimately self-defeating prejudice against the sorbet and feel I should attempt to make amends. And really, there isn’t a better place to start than with raspberry sorbet – Streamvale Farm’s Raspberry Sorbet in particular. Because, before I had tasted this, I had never had the experience of preferring a flavour in ‘sorbet’ form to ‘ice cream’ form.  But raspberries, I think, are one of those fruits that are so intense that turning them into ice cream forces you to sacrifice that ‘raspberry-ness’ which sorbet, done well, completely preserves and even enhances. And Streamvale Farm does Raspberry Sorbet like no other. Shunning those impostors ‘raspberry flavouring’ and ‘raspberry sauce’, it is immediately apparent on tasting the sorbet that the flavour is down to raspberries – and nothing else. Of course, the sugar and lemon juice coax it into life – as they do with any sorbet – but there is nothing in the sorbet you wouldn’t put in yourself.

And yet…when H and I, longing to replicate that Streamvale Raspberry experience at home, turned our hands to making Raspberry Sorbet ourselves, alas we could not quite do it. Don’t get me wrong – the flavour was superb (this isn’t boasting – it’s down to the old faithfuls Caroline Liddell and Robin Weir whose recipe this is from the book Ices: The Definitive Guide ) and, if you can bear to let it sit for a while in advance, there isn’t too much of a problem. But we just couldn’t get that smoothness Streamvale achieved. Our sorbet was harder once frozen than Streamvale’s (and it isn’t just our freezer – we bought a 500ml tub of Streamvale’s Raspberry Sorbet to have at home) and thus, scooping was much more tricky. It was also just slightly less sweet than Streamvale’s version. 

[H interrupted at this point to say that we might as well be honest and admit that it was a 750ml Streamvale tub that we bought. However, it doesn’t really matter now that it’s all gone anyway.]

Nevertheless, here is a delicious recipe for raspberry sorbet and an absolute must for those who live too far away to taste Streamvale’s own. When I say too far away this means separated by sea and/or vast continental landmass. Otherwise, there is no excuse. Try some and you’ll know what I mean.


Our own raspberry sorbet

Our own raspberry sorbet


First you’ll need to make sugar syrup: on realising this V rolled her eyes and made a face which communicated something along the lines of ‘who could be bothered faffing about with sugar syrup’ (a face she often makes, as you can imagine) until she realised how mindbogglingly simple it actually is:

 For the Sugar Syrup (which will keep for 2-3 days in a covered jug in the fridge):


1 kilo of sugar to 1 litre of water 
5 cups sugar to 4 cups water
 2lb 3 oz sugar to 32 fl oz water

This makes 1600ml / 6 and two thirds cups / 54 fl oz of syrup.


  • boil water
  • mix sugar and water together
  • cover and allow to cool


Now for the Raspberry Sorbet recipe – it makes about 1 litre/4 cups/32 fl oz. According to the recipe you need to ‘pick over the raspberries, carefully discarding any suspect fruit’. We took ‘discarding’ to mean ‘eating’, and feel this is the sense in which the instruction was meant. Also, apparently, raspberries are so fragile they should not actually be washed. We didn’t wash them and we’re still alive, so I reckon this is probably good advice.



  • 450g / 1lb raspberries
  • 375 ml / 1½ cups / 12 fl oz sugar syrup
  • Juice of 2 strained lemons

Method :

  1. Transfer berries to a food processor or blender.
  2. Pour in the measured syrup and blend to a uniform pulp.
  3. Have ready a plastic sieve positioned over a bowl.
  4. Strain the pulp, rubbing the residue through until all that remains are the seeds.
  5. Add the strained lemon juice, stir, cover and chill in the fridge
  6. When ready, start the ice cream machine.
  7. Pour in the chilled raspberry purée and continue to freeze until the sorbet is firm enough to serve. Or to store, quickly scrape into a plastic freezer box, cover with greaseproof paper and a lid.
  8. If frozen hard, allow 20-25 minutes in the fridge to soften.


Note: we left out instructions 3 and 4 because we didn’t mind about the seeds and Streamvale’s raspberry sorbet – the benchmark – had seeds in it. This sorbet is really nice with nectarines or on its own.

Recipe comes from Ices: The Definitive Guide (Grub Street, 1995)


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