Say melon to a Frenchman and he pictures only one variety—the round Charentais with its pale green skin and juicy, brilliant orange flesh. Beside its intense fragrance, all other melons tend to pale into obscurity, though a cantaloupe can be substituted. An ultra-ripe, fragrant melon is essential for sorbet, as chilling blankets the taste. To highlight the fruitiness, I like to add an equally fragrant sweet wine such as a Muscat de Frontignan from the shores of the Mediterranean, but port is good too.

Makes 1 quart/1 liter/1 3/4 pints sorbet

  • 1 melon (about 2 pounds/900 grams)
  • 1/4 cup/60 grams/2 ounces sugar, more to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon, more to taste
  • 1 cup/250 milliliters/8 fluid ounces sweet white wine, more to taste
  • 1/2 egg white, whisked until frothy

Ice Cream Churn

Chill a container to hold the sorbet after freezing. With a sharp knife, cut a thin slice from the top and bottom of the melon so it sits flat. Pare off the peel, working from top to bottom. Halve the melon, discard seeds, and cut the flesh in chunks. Purée it in a food processor—there should be about 3 cups/750 milliliters/1 1/4 pints. Return the purée to the processor with the sugar, lemon juice, and wine. Process it until smooth. Chill it in the refrigerator until cold, about 30 minutes. Taste the mixture, adding more wine, lemon juice or sugar if needed.

Freeze the melon mixture in the ice cream churn until almost firm. With the blades turning, add the egg white and continue churning until the sorbet is firm. Pack it in the chilled container, cover tightly and store it in the freezer.  Fruit sorbet can be kept up to 24 hours but the texture will gradually harden and crystallize. If hard, let it stand about an hour in the refrigerator to soften before serving.

photo by France Ruffenach
by Anne Willan, Chronicle Books, 2007.