Guilt-free sorbet

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Yes, there is such a thing! And you can make it yourself!

Fruit is a major part of sorbet but let's admit it, people, It's the sugar that draws us! Why, oh, why do all good things have to have sugar in them?

There are members of my family and extended family who either battle diabetes or are on the verge of having it. It is truly a terrible disease and, as we all know, it can be difficult when our loved ones crave sweets.

I don't claim to have the answer of all things sweet, but I do have a couple of alternatives when it comes to making sorbet.

I have made sorbet on the show before and will go over the details of doing so later but what I will address first is sweeteners you can use that are considered safe and, yes, yummy!

Stevia is a well-known herb that is used as a sweetener in all kinds of products. You can purchase it at any health food store or find it on-line. The brand I used for today's recipe is Trader Joe's Organic Stevia Extract. In my research, I found that stevia has zero calories and does not raise the glycemic level, which is what you have to watch for when you have those concerns. There are a lot of people who love stevia but there are reports of some people not liking the aftertaste, which sometimes resembles licorice. The stevia that is organic seems to have the least complaints but the best thing to do is try different brands until you find the one that suits your tastes.

So what can you use if stevia just doesn't do it for you but you still want to go the healthier route? You may want to consider xylitol.

As much as xylitol sounds like a man-made chemical, it is actually a natural sweetener derived from birch or corn. It's a very popular ingredient in dental products like toothpaste, mouthwash, gum, etc. The reason dentists like it so much is that bacteria cannot metabolize xylitol, causing cavities, and its presence is actually harmful to some bacteria. And as we all know (or should!), bacteria LOVES sugar! That's what bacteria feeds off of to multiply and cause all that decay chaos. It has less calories than sugar (9.6 calories per tsp compared to sugar's 15 calories) but it's also absorbed slower so is safe for diabetics and hypoglycemics because of its insulin independent metabolism. Diarrhea is the only symptom some test subjects have experienced, but it was noted that this usually only happened when a large amount of xylitol was consumed. Xylitol comes in granule form so you can use it just like sugar. The only recipes that you are unable to use it in are those calling for yeast. Yeast (a bacteria) needs sugar to feed off of so it will multiply and, therefore, rise.

Now for the fun part: Let's make sorbet!!!

A major part of succeeding at making sorbet is the equipment. I have a Cuisinart Ice Cream and Sorbet maker and have had one for more years than I'm willing to admit to! It is a machine that consists of the electric turntable, a tub that you put in your freezer, a paddle and plastic cover. The way it works is you put the sorbet or ice cream in the frozen tub, place it on the turntable, put in the paddle, place on the cover, turn it on and in 20-40 minutes, you have sorbet! It takes a little longer in the summer, even with your air conditioner, interestingly enough. The paddle turns and scrapes the freezing liquid off the edges and, eventually, solidifies to your desired consistency. I place the finished product in a plastic container, covering it with plastic wrap before I put on the top. I freeze it immediately. I have found this machine at many department stores (fine and discount ones) for around $50.00. I recently purchased one at Amazon.com on sale for around $34.99 (score!). You have to re-freeze the tub for at least 24 hours before using it again. I have purchased extra tubs so I can make more than one batch in a day. I have also found these on Amazon.com for around $30.00 each.

I made sorbet for the show using three different sweeteners: Sugar, stevia and xylitol. I wanted to see which one was the best tasting. I made pink grapefruit sorbet because it's my husband's favorite and I wanted to use him as a guinea pig. He is a well-known sugar addict (sorry, honey, but you know you are!) and I knew he would be a good candidate. He says the stevia was 'interesting', the sugar was just the way he has always liked it and the surprise was he preferred the xylitol the most! He says it wasn't as sweet so the pink grapefruit taste came through better.

There are numerous sorbet recipes out there and, trust me, I have made most of them. If you want to make sorbet, I would skip making the ones you can routinely find at the grocery stores. Raspberry, lemon, strawberry, etc. taste the same store-bought or homemade. Why go to all that effort if it tastes the same? Cost-wise, it is much cheaper to make it yourself, especially if you use fruit that's on sale. I will give you my pink grapefruit sorbet recipe in addition to a couple more that were big hits.

Stevia is very easy to use since you just add it to the amount of water called for in the recipe. You will see that I used 1 teaspoon for two cups of water. Stevia is notoriously very, very sweet so you may want to add a little at a time, tasting the water, until you reach your desired sweetness.

The xylitol I used is Emerald Forest All Natural Xylitol Granules and was about $16.00 for two pounds. I found it on Amazon.com and waited until I had other items to order to avoid shipping and handling costs. This may seem expensive but, health-wise, this is such a great alternative to sugar.

I personally feel that all of us can be (or should be!) better about our sugar consumption, especially those burdened with diabetes or the threat of it. Using stevia or xylitol in these recipes makes eating sorbet a bit more guilt-free!

Pink Grapefruit Sorbet (using sugar)
Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups grapefruit juice, (about 4 grapefruit)
1 TBS grapefruit zest

Directions:
Put sugar and water in pan over low heat on stove. Simmer, slowly, until all sugar is dissolved. Cool completely, preferably in refrigerator, for an hour or so. Put simple syrup, grapefruit juice and zest in sorbet maker. Follow manufacturers instructions to prepare sorbet.

After sorbet has completed its cycle, remove sorbet from freezer container and store in tight-fitting plastic ware. Before putting on lid, cover sorbet with plastic wrap, pressing wrap to surface of sorbet. This cuts down on any icicles forming on top. Remove from freezer and let stand for around 10 minutes before serving.

Pink Grapefruit Sorbet (using stevia)
Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients:
1 tsp stevia extract
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups grapefruit juice, (about 4 grapefruit)
1 TBS grapefruit zest

Directions:
In measuring cup, measure out 2 cups water and add stevia. Put sweetened water, grapefruit juice and zest in sorbet maker. Follow manufacturers instructions to prepare sorbet.

After sorbet has completed its cycle, remove sorbet from freezer container and store in tight-fitting plastic ware. Before putting on lid, cover sorbet with plastic wrap, pressing wrap to surface of sorbet. This cuts down on any icicles forming on top. Remove from freezer and let stand for around 10 minutes before serving.

Pink Grapefruit Sorbet (using xylitol)
Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients:
2 cups xylitol granules
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups grapefruit juice, (about 4 grapefruit)
1 TBS grapefruit zest

Directions:
Prepare xylitol and water in pan over low heat. Simmer, slowly, until all xylitol is dissolved. Cool completely, preferably in the refrigerator, for an hour or so. Put simple syrup, grapefruit juice and zest in sorbet maker. Follow manufacturers instructions to prepare sorbet.

After sorbet has completed its cycle, remove sorbet from freezer container and store in tight-fitting plastic ware. Before putting on lid, cover sorbet with plastic wrap, pressing wrap to surface of sorbet. This cuts down on any icicles forming on top. Remove from freezer and let stand for around 10 minutes before serving.

Lemon-Rosemary Sorbet
Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients:
4 cups water
4 cups sugar (can substitute xylitol or stevia) *see notes
1 rosemary sprig
1 cup lemon juice

Directions:
In saucepan, bring water, sugar and rosemary to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Discard rosemary and let syrup cool to room temperature. Add lemon juice and refrigerate until completely chilled. Transfer to ice cream maker.  Follow manufacturer's instructions to prepare sorbet.

After sorbet has completed its cycle, remove sorbet from freezer container and store in tight-fitting plastic ware. Before putting on lid, cover sorbet with plastic wrap, pressing wrap to surface of sorbet. This cuts down on any icicles forming on top.

Notes
Some think this is too sweet. May want to make simple syrup with 4 cups water, 3 cups sugar or xylitol. If using stevia, add 1 tsp stevia to 4 cups water. Proceed with recipe.

Pina Colada Sorbet
Yield: 1quart

Ingredients:
3 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
1 can coconut milk, (13.5 to 14.0 oz can)
1 cup sugar (can substitute xylitol ) *see notes
2 TBS dark rum

Directions:
Pour pineapple juice into med bowl. In 3-qt saucepan, combine 1 cup of the coconut milk with the sugar. Bring to boil, stirring to be sure sugar is fully incorporated. Boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining coconut milk and boil for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally; mixture will turn a brownish color. Whisk mixture into pineapple juice and then add dark rum. Chill completely, stirring occasionally, and then freeze in an ice cream machine according to manufacturers  directions.

Notes
Add xylitol as you would sugar. I would not recommend stevia for this recipe. Cooking the sugar or xylitol with the coconut milk creates a caramel-like product and it doesn't do that when using stevia and this makes a difference in the texture and taste.