Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomato Sorbet

By • July 26, 2010 4 Comments

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Author Notes: I could not resist making a savory sorbet; it has been very hot and humid here on Oahu and, anyway, I do not think heirloom tomatoes need to be cooked to be appreciated. They are perfect just as they are. Making sorbet out of these summer beauties is a taste treat – as it melts in your mouth the sweetest, freshest tomato flavor bursts forth. This is the perfect starter for a hot summer alfresco soiree. Since there is not as much sugar in this sorbet, for best texture, use on the same day as you make it. This should not be difficult – it is delicious. It's up to you whether or not you want to strain out the seeds.

Note: I used two Cherokee Purple Heirloom tomatoes and one German Pink Heirloom tomato (that is what I had); feel free to use all Cherokee Purples (they are divine) or a mix of "sweet" heirlooms.



Makes about 1 quart

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup 2 T cane sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed with the flat side of a large knife
  • 5-6 sweet basil leaves or you can also use green shiso (if using shiso, you can use a few less)
  • 2 1 1/2 - 2 inch strips of lemon peel (not pith) using a vegetable peeler
  • 2 Cherokee Purple Heirloom tomatoes, cored, cut into wedges and chopped
  • 1 German Pink Heirloom tomato, cored, cut into wedges and chopped (for a total of 4 1/2 cups of chopped tomato)
  • 8 sweet basil leaves or you can use green shiso (if using green shiso you can use a few less)
  • 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice (I used one juicy Meyer lemon)
  1. Make syrup one day ahead: Bring water, sugar and salt to a boil in a small saucepan; cook, stirring, until sugar and salt are thoroughly dissolved. Place garlic, basil (or shiso) leaves, and lemon peel strips in a glass bowl or 2-cup Pyrex measure; carefully add hot syrup. Allow mixture to cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. When you are ready to make sorbet, tightly roll and then thinly slice basil (or shiso) leaves crosswise. Juice meyer lemon over leaves to prevent discoloration. In a blender, combine chopped tomatoes and chilled syrup. Puree until combined. Stir in basil (shiso) chiffonade and lemon juice. Transfer mixture to ice cream maker and proceed according to manufacturer’s instructions. After 40 minutes in my machine this sorbet was soft; freeze for another hour for firmer texture.
  3. For a vegetarian Bloody Mary Martini, combine 1 1/2 ounces chilled vodka of choice, two tablespoons of Cherokee Purple Sorbet and a splash of Tabasco. Yum!
  4. Note: When the sorbet finished in my ice cream maker, I discovered a happy accident. Perhaps because I chose not to strain the tomato mixture after blending, the pulp separated from the rest of the sorbet, leaving luscious purple-red sorbet with green basil ribbons in the center of the bowl and white sorbet (almost like the salt plus tomato water) around the edges (see photos). You can mix it all together or keep it separate for color contrast; the best part is that even the white sorbet has amazing tomato flavor.

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