I made lemon sorbet and have already churned it but the consistency is too runny. I churned it a minimal amount using a food processor (I've done it this way before). How do I make it thicker?

  • How exactly are you making it by churning in a food processor? Are you freezing it first? You've had success with the exact same method before? (Same recipe, same air temperature, same freezer temperature...) – Cascabel Jun 22 '12 at 20:56
  • when I take it out of the freezer for the 2nd time (the 1st time being when I churned it) in order to serve it it's quite liquidy and not thick enough – Adam Jun 22 '12 at 21:59
  • I made it by freezing it into a block completely and then placing it into the food processor – Adam Jun 22 '12 at 21:59
  • So the obvious questions are: are you using a ton of sugar or alcohol (still haven't seen your recipe), and are you letting it freeze completely the second time? – Cascabel Jun 22 '12 at 22:10
  • If the problem is the recipe (i.e. using tons of sugar to cover up the acidity from a lot of lemon juice), this is pretty much a duplicate of cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/23278/… But the process sounds a little iffy too. – Cascabel Jun 22 '12 at 22:11

The problem could be the recipe. If you're using a lot of lemon juice, then a lot of sugar to cover up all that acidity, you're guaranteed to end up with something pretty soft. Have a look around at other lemon sorbet recipes, and see if you're using relatively more.

But if your recipe is sane, then it could be your process. Here's how it could mess things up.

Sorbet is basically sugar water with a bit of flavor. When it freezes all the way, unless it was churned as it froze, there's going to be a tendency for it to separate into ice crystals and even stronger sugar water. Some of this may happen in your first freezing step. Then you're pulverizing it in a food processor, probably giving it a chance to melt a bit. This is much worse than just leaving it out, since once it's in tiny bits, there's a lot more surface area exposed to air, and you're continuously mixing it, bringing in warm air, and so on. Then finally, it refreezes. The part that managed to melt in the meantime is going to repeat the earlier process, except now there's lots of space, so it's even easier for ice crystals to form and force out the sugar. So I'd definitely expect a tendency to end up with a runny sugar syrup component to your "sorbet". (If it's at all grainy, this is probably what's happening.)

If you're determined to do this without any kind of ice cream maker, it's going to be hard to avoid problems. You can certainly try to correct for it by using less sugar, though. You could also just make a granita - freeze it on a sheet, and scrape it off to serve.

  • Thanks so much this was really helpful and explains so much! I will try to adjust the recipe next time and maybe I'll actually pull out my ice cream maker from the back of my closet. :) – Adam Jun 22 '12 at 22:27

Runny isn't usually so much of the problem. If it is too runny then it hasn't frozen enough.

If you are freezing in an ice cream churn then the mixture should churn until it has thickened. At least until there is no liquid that hasn't crystallized.

If you are pre-freezing the mixture into a block and chopping it up in the food processor then the mixture should be fully solid before being chopped up. Remember that the longer it is in the food processor the more it will be allowed to melt as well.

The problem is usually that after it is frozen it is too icy. To combat the iciness sorbets will include either alcohol or a lot of sugar.

If you are confident that you are freezing your mixture as much as you should then perhaps you could reduce the sugar or alcohol in the recipe to encourage solidification. Understand that this approach will produce a more icy texture.

  • 1
    It doesn't sound like this is the OP's problem, but with frozen-bowl style ice cream makers, you often have to further freeze in the freezer; what's very soft coming out of the ice cream maker (and melting as soon as it hits a bowl - "runny"?) can easily freeze solid in the freezer. – Cascabel Jun 22 '12 at 21:07
  • @jefromi- Interesting thought. I think we need to hear what the OP is actually doing. – Sobachatina Jun 22 '12 at 21:11

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