Water Ices -- ices that contain no milk or cream -- are wonderful summer eating. We have begun meals with tomato cheese ice, accompanied chicken gelatine with basil ice, eaten cold pork with parsley ice, cleared palates with grapefruit ice, coupled brie with red-wine ice and ended meals with coffee ice, liqueur-flavored ice and almost every kind of fruit ice.
Water ices are inexpensive and easy to make. One of the satisfactory things about them is that no special equipment is needed. It is nice to have an ice cream machine, but ice cube trays, cake pans or een bowls in the regrigerator's freezer will do very well. For preparing ingredients, a food processor is a great convenience and so is a blender, but a food will works, too.
Tiny round and oval shaped scoops are amusing and molds can make for a sensational presentation, but ices spooned into wine or champagne glasses or bowls are pretty too, and taste as good. And while it helps when experimenting with water ices to mae accurate measurement to sugar density, I don't know of anyone who can't live a happy and useful life without a hydrometer. Ices, Sherbets or Sorbets and Granitas
I use the term "water ices" generically to encompass ices, sherbets, sorbets and granitas, which are used interchangeably, confusingly and usually inaccurately. All of these are water ices and contain flavoring in the form of strained fruit or vegetable purees, juices, wines, liqueurs, coffee, tea or essences. What differentiates them is their sugar content, or density, and, in the case of sherbets or sorbets, the addition of a stabilizing ingrediend such as gelatin and/or egg whites which adds lightness and creaminess.
A mixture with too much sugar will not freeze. One with too little (or no) sugar will become a solid block of ice unless it is stirred frequently. Normally water ices with very low sugar contents must be eaten before the final freeze occurs. The just-right sugar content or density varies with the water ice that is being made. Sugar can be added as undissolved sugar, as a sugar syrup or as sugar syrup combined wth corn syrup.
Ices are made of a mixture with a final density of 18 degrees to 22 degrees, depending on the fruit or vegetable used. The density is achieved by mixing one part of flavoring with an equal part of 28-degree syrup (see recipe), although densities up to 32 degrees can also be used. I make up a batch of syrup and keep it in the refrigerator. Therefore, it is already cooled and ready to use.
Sherbets or sorbets are made of a mixture with a final density of 15 degrees, which is achieved by mixing one part of flavoring with an equal part of simple syrup (see recipe). Gelatin is added to the mixture before freezing. Egg whites, which can be unbeaten, lightly beaten or stiffly beaten or in the form of an Italian meringue (see recipe), can be added in the beginning. Stiffly beaten egg whites and the Italian meringue usually are folded into a partially frozen mixture. Milk changes the character of sherbets and they cease to be water ices.
Granitas are made of a mixture with a final density of no more than 14 degrees. They consist of liquid flavorings and usually a simple syrup, although a 28-degree syrup can also be used and diluted with added flavorings, or even sugar alone. Because of their lower sugar content and since no stabilizers are added, granitas are, as the name suggests, more granular that sherbets or ices.
Wonderful water ices can also be made in untraditional ways. For example, I found recipes for ices made of fruit puree and jam, of fruit pure and sugar, of frozen fruit and wine and of frozen fruit, period.
Traditionalists view ices, as defined above, as desserts and sherbets or sorbets as palate clearers that are served between courses. Of course, when you are dealing with food, hard and fast rules should go out the window. Freezing Water Ices
The texture of water ices is determined by the size of the sugar content but also by the actual freezing process.
Granitas, to preserve thie graininess, are frozen in a bowl or tray in the freezer. The frozen particles are stirred frequently from the sides, where they first form, into the unfrozen portion. They evolve through mush into a more solid stage, although granitas should never become "solid." If granitas are beaten with an electric mixer, the ice crystals can be reduced in size to produce what is thought of as an Italian ice.
Other water ices made in the freezer section need more attention since their ice crystals must be smaller for a smoother product. Sherbets need to be thoroughly and quickly beaten with an electric mixer at the firm mush stage and then stirred twice after being returned to the freezer.
Automatic ice ream machines are the easiest and quickest for this task. The mixture goes into the inner container; ice and salt, according to the machine's needs, are packed between the inner and outer containers; the switch is turned on; the dasher beats away and the result is a water ice with a lovely texture.
I have acquireed three different kinds of ice cream machines and I wouldn't call any of them perfection. The one I use most is an attachment to my Starmix. It takes ice cubes and ordinary table salt, and if the container, the dashers and the mixture all start out quite cold, it will produce a quart of very acceptable ice in about 10 minutes. I used the larger, bucket-type machine only occasionally when I am making more than a quart of one flavor and if I have remembered to buy a supply of rock salt. The version that paddles away inside the freezer I don't use at all. I can never find an electric plug at the right height. I don't like the electric code to squeeze the gasket on the freezer door and I can't forget the mess on the freezer shelf once when I overfilled the container.
I am intrigued by but have not used the Champion Juicer with Homogenzier, a machine born of the California vegetarian food movement. Bobbi Goldman, the noted New York cooking maven, swears by it to turn pure frozen fresh fruit into what she promiese is an indescribably delicious ice, velvet in texture and utterly free of ice particles. Flavoring Water Ices
A water ice is only as good ast the ingredients that go into it, and even then not necessarily since intense cold dulls flavor. Thus, a mixture that seems at room tempertature to be loaded with flavor can be transformed into a pale ice.
Fresh fruit should be highly fragrant and ripe. The exception is pears, which should be fragrant but slightly underripe toproduce a white ice rather than the one with the strange grayish-mauve cast that results when ripe pears are used. Forzen and canned fruits should have excellent flavor, as should their syrup, which can also be used for part of the sugar syrup. Vegetables should be young, fresh and flavorful. Herbs must be fresh. Only the best quality juices should be used.
Lemon juice is a critical ingredient of most water ices. first because it keeps many fruits and vegetables from discoloring and second because lemon is a reliable flavor enhancer. Eau de vies and liqueurs are also excellent flavorings, but they tend to make water ices so fragile. They are best eaten the day they are made. Because water ices that are flavored solely with liqueurs are very delicate in taste, it issafer to use non-effervescent mineral water or bottled spring water rather than risk introducing the chlorine tste of tap water.
The best flavor enhancers I have found are the pure and highly concentrated essences used by French pastry makers. Made in Grasse through the same steam distillation process used for perfumes, they have contributed mightily to the sensational success of New York ice, which was recently introduced in New York but not available here. La Cuisine in Alexandria carries 13 of these extraordinarily good and true essences. All but four are absolutely pure. Only the pear, apricot, blueberry and frangipane need to be stabilized with small amounts of alcohol. About an eighth of teaspoon will turn a quart of water ice into a marvel, so the $1.50 to $3-per-ounce price becomes resonable. The danger withese essences is in using too much, which can result in a flavor that seems artificial. The gragefruit essencehad a miraculous effect in eliminating the slightly metallic backtaste that is so odd and disturbing in even freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.
The most unusual flavoring I used was rose water which, as Elizabeth David said it would, has an extraordinary affinity with blackberry ice. Rose geranium leaves were her first choice, but since my plant was murdered last winter, I substituted a teaspoon of very highly scented French rose water.
If the flavor of a water ice is not satisfactory, the mixture can be melted back to a liquid stage and the taste adjusted, or the whole thing can be chalked up to experience and the flavorings changed the next time.
The first tomatoe cheese ice I made was not tematoey enough for my husband. Moreever, I had idiotically substituted an equal amount of a much stronger blue cheese for the milder Roquefort the recipe called for. The next batch was announced better than all right. I added tomato paste, cut down on the blue cheese, jacke dup the amount of cream cheese and substituted more intensely flavored minced dried onion for the fresh. I also reduced the amount of sugar in the basil ice, whiic is reminiscrnt in taste of a cool chutney. Keeping Water Ices
Ices and sherbets benefit from a frew hours of ripening in the freezer. Some but not all granitas should be eaten sooner rather than later (Michel Guerard's red-wine ice, which called for a St. Emilion but which I made with Caifornia plonk since the whole mixture was so sangria-like, was better after sitting in the freezer for three days than it was the day it was made.)
Water ices are best when theyar e kept at 20 degrees. This is, of course, impossible without special equipment, since home frezers are set at from 0 to 10 degrees. Therefore, water ices need to be softened before serving. They can be placed in the refrigerator for half an hour or left out in the kitchen for about 15 minutes. 28 DEGREE SUGAR SYRUP (Makes 6 2/3 cups and keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator) 5 cups sugar 4 1/4 cups water Combine water and sugar in a large saucepan. Place over high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has dissolved. Continue heating until the syrup comes to a full boil. Then immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the syrup into a large bowl. Leave it to cool competely before using. -- From "lenotre's Ice Creams and Candles" SIMPLE SYRUP (Make 5 cups and keeps indefinitely in the refrigerator) 2 cups sugar 4 cups water
Combine water and sugar in a large saucepan. Place over high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until th sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Pour syrup into a large bowl and cool completely before using. ITALIAN MERINGUE (For 1 quart of sherbet) 1 egg white, stiffly beaten 1/2 cup sugar 3 tablespoons water Pinch of cream of tartar
Dissolve the sugar in the water, add the cream of tartar and boil without stirring until the syrup spins a threat (240 degrees on the candy thermometer). Pour the syrup slowly, beating constantly, in the stiffly beaten egg white, and continue to beat with a rotary beater until the merinque is cool. It should be very thick. -- From "The Gourmet Cookbook, Volume II" Fruit Ices Based on 28-Degree Sugar Syrup (Each recipe makes about 1 quart) Puree fruit to yield amount indicated, strain and mix with the 28-degree sugar syrup, lemon or lime juice and optional fruit essence. Freeze. STRAWBERRY ICE 2 1/2 cups strained strawberry puree (2 1/2 pints) Scant 2 cups cold 28-degree sugar syrup 1 tablespoon lemon juice 2 drops strawberry essence (optional) RASPBERRY ICE 2 generous cups strained pureed raspherries 2 scant cups cold 28-degree sugar syrup MANGO ICE 2 generous cups strained mango puree (3 to 4 ripe mangos, weighing a total of 1 3/4 poinds) Scant 1 1/3 cups cold 28-degree sugar syrup Juice of 1 lime GRAPEFRUIT ICE$2 1/2 cups fresh grapefruit juice 1 1/2 cups cold 28-degree sugar syrup Up to 1/4 teaspoon or to taste of grapefruit essence PEACH ICE 2 1/2 cups strained peach puree (about 1 3/4 pounds) Scant 1 1/3 cups cold 28-degree sugar syrup Juice of 1/2 lemon 2 drops fresh pech essence (optional) Alcoholic Ices Based on 28-Degree Sugar Syrup CALVADOS ICE 6 1/2 tablespoons calvados, applejack or apple brandy (or any 100 proof liquor) Generous 1 2/3 cup noneffervesent mineral water or bottled spring water 2 generous cups cold 28 degree sugar syrup Ices Made With Kirsch, 80 Proof Liqueurs or Eaux de Vie 6 1/2 tablespoons 80 proof liqueur or eau de vie 1 1/2 cups noneffervescent mineral water or bottle spring water PORT, MADEIRA OR SHERRY ICE 1 cup port, madeira, sherry or any 36 proof bonifeit wine Scant 3 1/4 cups cold 28-degree sugar syrup -- From "Lenotre's Ice Creams and Candies" Other Fruit Ices BLACKBERRY ICE 1 pound strained pureed blackberries 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup water 2 rose geranium leaves or 1 teaspoon rose water
Boil the sugar and water together for 5 minutes with the gersnium leaves if available. Cool and add to the pureed blackberries.Add the rose water at this point if the geranium leaves haven't been used. Freeze. -- From "Summer Cooking" by Elizabeth David APPLE ICE 2 cups water 1 cup sugar 4 tablespoons lime juice 1 1/4 pounds tart apples (Stayman, Greenings, granny Smith or Jonathans) 2 tablespoons Calvadors or apple brandy
Boil the water and sugar 5 minues and cool. Peel, core and cut up the apples, then puree them with the line juice. Strain, add the syrup and Calvados or apple brandy.Freeze. PEAR ICE 4 fragrant but underripe pears 6 tablespoons lemon juice 1 1/3 cups 28 degree sugar syrup 1/4 teaspoon pear essence or 4 tablespoons Poire Williams
Peel and core pears and puree them with the lime juice. Strain, add the syrup and flavoring. Freeze. ALMOST PURE FRUIT ICE (Serves 4) 1 1/2 pounds ripe, perfumed peaches, nectarines or apricots, peeled, stoned, pureed and strained or 1 1/2 pounds slightly underripe but perfumed pears, peeled, cored, pureed and strained or 1 print strawberries, raspberries or blackberries, pureed and strained 1/4 cup plus sugar, to taste 1 tablespoon liqueur or eau de vie compatible with fruit (optional) 2 drops compatible fruit essence (optional)
Add sugar to taste to puree. Add optional flavorings. Freeze in ice cream machine. Super-Simple Fruit Ices With Jam (Each serves 4 to 6) 1 pound raspberries, pineapple, apriocots, peaches of strawberries, pureed and strained 1 pound 8 ounces raspberry, pineapple, apricot, peach or strawberry jam Juice of 1 lemon or more, to taste
Proceed exactly the same way for each ice. Heat the jam until liquid and strain into the fruit pulp. Add the lemon juice and stire until completely blended. Pour into a 9-inch cake pan and freeze.The texture will be smooth. There is no real need to stire or mix durig freezing to avoid crystals, but if you do not mind a few minute of additional work the texture will be even finer. -- From "When French Women Cook" by Madelaine Kamman FROZEN PEACH ICE Frozen sliced peaches Lemon juice to taste Sugar to taste Champagne, 1/3 the volum of the peaches
Usingthe steel blade, process all ingredients in food processor. -- From "Julia Child & MOre Company" Fruit Sherbets Using Gelatin as Stabilizer (Each recipe makes 1 3/4 quarts)
Soften gelatin in cold water or lemon juice and set aside. Combine sugar and water, bring to boil and boil 5 minutes. Col slightly and add the softened gelatin. Cool for 10 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients, strain and pour the mixture into two freezer trays. Freeze until mushy, then turn into a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Return to trays and freeze until firm, stirring twice without removing from trays. ORANGE SHERBET 1 envelope unflavored gelatin 1/4 cup water 2 cups sugar 4 cups water 2 cups orange juice 1/4 cups lemon juice 1/4 Cointreau or Triple See 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind Dash salt A few drops of mandarin essence (optional) RASPBERRY OR STRAWBERRY SHERBET 1 envelope unflavored gelatin 1/4 cup cold water 1 1/2 cups sugar 3 1/2 cups water 1/2 cup apricot or peach brandy 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 cups strained puree 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind A few drops raspberry or strawberry essence (optional) MELON SHERBET 1 envelope unflavord gelatin 5 tablespoons lemon juice 1 2/3 cups sugar 2 cups water 3 tablespoons Kirsch 2 cups very ripe strained melon puree 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind Dash salt 2 large egg whites, unbeaten 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Proceed as above through the addition of the softened gelatin to the syrup. Add Kirsch and freeze until a firm mush. Turn the mixture into a large bowl, add remaining ingredients and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Finish as indicated above. From "Modern French Cullnary Art," by Henri-Paul Pelleprat Sherbets Using Egg Whites as Stabilizers LIME SHERBET (makes 1 generous quart) 3 cups water 1 1/4 cups sugar 3/4 cup light corn syrup 2/3 cup lime juice 3 drops green food coloring (optional) 2 egg whites Pinch of salt (For lemon sherbet, substitute lemon sherbet, substitute lemon juice and yellow food coloring.
For lemon and lime sherbet,add up to 1/4 teaspoon lemon essence* to the lime juice.
Reserve 1/4 cups sugar. Combine water, 1 cup of sugar and corn syrup with water, stir over high heat to dissolve the sugar, bring to a boil, reduce heat to moderate and boil for 5 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat and cool. Stir in lime juice and food coloring. For an ice cream machine, beat egg whites with 1/4 cup reserved sugar and a pinch of salt. Add to the lime mixture and freeze. To freeze in refrigerator freezer, freeze mixture (without egg whites) in a 9-inch cake pan until firm. Break up with electric mixer only until free from lumps. Refreeze, breakup again and beat in stiffly beaten egg whites only until they are incorporated. Refreeze, folding gently two or three times during freezing. -- From "Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts" Other Fruit Sherbets
Any of the ices made with 28-degree sugar syrup can be be converted into fruit sherbets by substituting simple syrup and then adding for each quart of ice two egg whites unbeaten, or stiffly beaten or a 1 egg white Italian meringue. LEMON GRANITA 2 cups water 1 cup sugar Juice of 2 lemons Grated rind of 1 lemon Make a simple syrup of the water and sugar and cool. Add the juice and rind and freeze, stirring every hour or so. -- From "La Doice Cucina" by Anna Bruni Seldis CLAM GRANITA 20 clams 1.2 cup cold water
Wash clams throughly, changing water several times, put in stewpan with cold water, cover closely and steam until shells open. Strain the liquid, cool and freeze to a mush. -- From "The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book" by Fannie Farmer RED WINE GRAITA (Serves 12) 1 cup water 1 cup sugar 3 1/4 cups red wine Juice of 1 orange Juice of 1 lemon Mint leaves (optional)
Boil water and sugar for 1 minute and pour into a bowl.Cool. Add remaining ingredients except for mint leaves, and place bowl in freezer. Stir with a fork about once an hour, making sure to mix the frozen edges into the center. Serve in wine glases garnish with mint leaves. -- From "Cuisine Gourmande" by Michel Guerard BASIL, PARSLEY OR MINT ICE (Serves 8 as accompaniment to meat course) Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon 1 cup water 1 cup water 3 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil, parsley or mint 1 tablespoon dry sheery 1 drop green color (optional) 1 stiffy beaten egg white
Combine lemon juice and rind with water and sugar in a pan. Bring to boil. Stir in chopped herbs and simmer 5 minute. Cool. Add sherry and coloring. Put into ice tray into freezer and when crystals form remove, turn into a bowl, beat smooth with rotary beaters, mix in the beaten egg white and return to freezer to harden. -- From "The Penguin Book of Herbs and Spices" by Rosemary Hemphill TOMATO CHEESE ICE (Serves 6-8 as a first course) 1/2 tablespoon blue cheese 1 package (3 ounces) plus 1 1/2 tablespoons cream cheese 1/2 teaspoons dried mnced onion 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 2 tablespoons tomato paste 1 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 cups good quality tomato juice 2 stiffly beaten egg whites
Cream together th two cheeses and add onion. Worcestershire, tomato paste, salt, pepper and lemon juice.Beat tomato juice in gradually. Add stiffly beaten egg whites, and freeze in ice cream machine or refrigerator freezer, beat and fold in egg whites. Refreeze. -- From "Charlston Recipes."