Belated l’shanah tovah! Or in goy-speak, happy Rosh Hashanah, aka the Jewish new year! Having been raised Jewish in New York, I grew up under the assumption that most people knew at least a little about Judaism. Yes, obviously I was very mistaken and that was quickly made clear to me in the first few weeks of college in rural Ohio. Now that I’m back living in NY, I celebrate it with my family in a very millennial, non-religious way. In short, I go to synagogue/temple with my family because it matters to them, and I go to the meals/cook/write about it here because food matter to me. Plus family heritage and whatnot, you get the point.
So for future edification: Rosh Hashannah is the Jewish New Year, and it falls sometime around mid-to-late September and/or early October, depending on the year (it’s 5777 y’all!) because the Jewish calendar is
different lunisolar. [Updated due to Jewish guilt] PS that last sentence made me sad because I spent years in Hebrew school and I should probably be able to speak about the new year a bit more articulately, but then again, that’s what you get for making me go to extra school on Saturday, Mum and Dad. Anyway! Since the holiday always overlaps with concord grape season, I thought I’d incorporate the two, which is how you get this recipe. It could easily just be called “concord grape sorbet”, but it tastes like frozen Manischewitz (a very sweet kosher wine) and that’s a bit more fun. Also, the recipe has actual wine in it, so there’s that. Which brings me to my next point: while I experiment with various sorbets and ice creams nearly every summer, I haven’t written about it in nearly four years, so I have learned a few really helpful tips and techniques to impart. For the sake of (relative) brevity, I’ve boiled them down to two main points: one is about ingredients, the other is about freezing. Alcohol has a much lower freezing point than water (aka why you can store vodka in the freezer), so substituting it for some/all of the water in a recipe yields a softer sorbet. This is especially helpful when your main ingredient contains a lot of water. The red wine is more about flavor, so omitting it won’t affect the consistency as much as the vodka. However, unless you’re concerned about someone ingesting (a relatively small amount that is cooked down) of alcohol, I highly recommend using it, as it gives the sorbet a unique depth.As much as I’d love to continue to wax on about this, I’m pretty sure anyone reading this just wants to get to the recipe, so I’ve included links in the recipe notes to two longer and far more articulate posts on the topic.
adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop
3 1/2 pounds (1 3/4 kilograms) concord grapes
2 tablespoons water
1 – 2 tablespoons red wine
1/4 cup (60 ml) light corn syrup
1 tablespoon vodka
- Remove the grapes from the stems and cut them in half if they’re large or have thick skins.
- Place a mesh strainer over a large bowl and set aside.
- In a large, nonreactive pot, combine grapes and wine (or water, if using), then cover.
- Cook grapes over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the skins have burst and the grapes are soft and cookied through.
- Remove from heat and pour into the strainer, pressing the solids with a spatula.
- Stir in the corn syrup, wine and vodka (if using) and let cool for at least 1 hour.
- Transfer mixture to a container and chill overnight.
- Freeze sorbet in ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions (see note above if using the kitchenaid bowl), then place in a freezer proof container to firm up for 1-2 hours. While you can serve this immediately, the extra chilling time really helps the sorbet achieve the ideal texture.