Grapefruit & Black Pepper Sorbet
Something happened while I was waiting for blood oranges. My friend Suzy brought me a giant bag full of Ruby Red grapefruits from her parents’ house in Palm Springs. Juicy, sweet and wonderfully tangy, these were some of the best grapefruits I’d had in years.
I haven’t always been a grapefruit fan. I thought the yellow-fleshed, sour orbs that my mother served instead of salad some nights when I was a kid were utterly horrible. They made your face screw up so that even the cutest five-year old would look like a Photoshop-warped Popeye. After my mother finally caught on and started buying me oranges, I forgot about grapefruits completely. In fact, I don’t think I gave grapefruits another thought until college, when they were one of the safest things to eat in the cafeteria. Nothing bad could happen to your grapefruit under its leathery skin, and sprinkled with enough sugar—at least until I learned to appreciate their tart intrigue—they were exponentially more edible than the pancakes, though those made fair stand-ins for Frisbees on the disc golf course on campus.
There are dozens of grapefruit varieties ranging in sweetness and in color, for almost white to, well, ruby. There are also Pomelos, which are thought to be an ancient grapefruit variety. These suckers can easily reach the size of a bowling ball, though are more often the size of a baby’s head. Grapefruits are predominantly grown where all citrus does well, in places like Florida, Texas and California. Wander around my neighborhood and you’ll surely find them dangling off trees, just within reach. But be sure to ask the homeowners. People steal our avocadoes all the time and it stinks.
Anyhow, back to Suzy’s grapefruits. I ate them out of hand, in salads and brûléed. But there were more grapefruits than Neal and I could imagine consuming before they went bad, so I harnessed my inner David Lebovitz (you do know David Lebovitz, right? Author of the Perfect Scoop, one of my all-time favorite cookbooks), took a well-deserved break from wedding research, and concocted a sorbet recipe, with a kiss of black pepper to spice things up.
Not wanting to be wasteful, I peeled all of the grapefruits first and set about to candying their zest with a super-simple recipe I got from Cookstr. Remember those gummies that your grandma kept in the candy dish? The candied zest was like those, except it wasn’t stale and it tasted like real fruit. Together, the zest and the sorbet made a remarkably refreshing dessert, perfect for the warm weather here in Southern California, but an equally nice get-away treat if you live in the colder reaches of the country and have access to good citrus.
Candied Grapefruit Zest
Grapefruit & Black Pepper Sorbet
2 cups fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice (about 4 grapefruits)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Using a paring knife, peel the zest off the grapefruits in wide, long strips, and reserve for your candied grapefruit zest.
In a saucepan bring sugar, water and ground pepper to a simmer, making sure all the sugar is dissolved. Whisk simple syrup into grapefruit juice. Refrigerate overnight and freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.