Wild Fig and Watermelon Sorbet

August 1, 2019 Updated: August 1, 2019

Wild Fig and Watermelon Sorbet

I had almost given up on the notion of a watermelon sorbet—why overcomplicate the beauty of an icy slice of ripe watermelon? Then one Indian summer day, I found myself with some figs to use up. I couldn’t bear to waste them—they were lovely squashed ones I’d picked on holiday in Sardinia, but there weren’t enough to make fig ice cream or sorbet. I struck upon the idea of using them with watermelon—also plentiful at that time of year.

The figs give body and sap to the watery pink watermelon juice, dulling its color a deep blue-red. It’s a wonderfully refreshing but easy-to scoop sorbet. If you can’t pick wild figs, I won’t hold it against you—just use the ripest, blackest ones you can find.

  • 1/2 pound ripe black or Turkish figs (about 6)
  • 1 1/2 pound watermelon flesh (red part only)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon

To prepare the sorbet: Rinse the figs, then slice in half and place them in a bowl, sprinkled with a tablespoon of water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and cook in a microwave on high for 3 to 4 minutes. Otherwise, simmer them gently in a non-reactive pan just until they’re tender, juicy, and piping hot (do not boil). Set aside to cool; once cold, cover and chill in the fridge along with the cubed watermelon flesh (in a separate container) until completely cold, 2 to 3 hours.

Once the figs are thoroughly chilled, liquidize them with the watermelon, sugar, and lemon juice long enough for the sugar granules to dissolve, 2 to 3 minutes. Use a small ladle to push the purée through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois. Save a couple of teaspoons of the seeds if you like and add these back to the purée for texture.

To make the sorbet: Pour the dark red purée into an ice cream machine and churn according to the machine’s instructions until frozen and thick and creamy-looking, usually 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer the sorbet to a suitable lidded container. Top with a piece of wax paper to limit exposure to air, cover, and freeze until ready to serve. Best eaten within 2 weeks.

Recipe courtesy of “La Grotta Ice Creams and Sorbets: A Cookbook,” copyright 2019 by Kitty Travers. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

LaGrotta book cover
“La Grotta Ice Creams and Sorbets: A Cookbook” by Kitty Travers ($25, Clarkson Potter).
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