Mexican Sorbet – Nieve de Garrafa

Go to printable recipe: Mexican Sorbet – Nieve de garrafa

In my previous post, lime sorbet was needed as an add-in for a Mexican beverage called tejuino.  As I mentioned, I could not find this or any other kind of sorbet (water-based frozen dessert) at stores in Canada, so I decided to prepare my own.  In another post, there was a brief comment about Mexican sorbet (nieve de garrafa) during my visit to Tlaquepaque, in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Nieve means snow, and garrafa is the Spanish word for a container used primarily to hold liquids, but in this context, it is the name given to the metal tubs where a sorbet base (liquid) is first poured; this garrafa snuggly sits in a wooden barrel with salty ice (freezing point lower than plain ice), and then, as the liquid starts to freeze along the inner walls of the garrafa, the sorbet crafter scrapes it off with a wooden spatula and continues that process until all the liquid has transformed into an airy solid treat.  In the photos below, a Nieve de Garrafa store front sign in Tlaquepaque, and inside the store, several of their garrafas, in traditional wooden barrels at the back, and modern metal boxes to keep them cold, all filled with salty ice:

012 AA Nieves de garrafa

001 Tlaquepaque nieves de garrafa 2019

It did not take me long to realize that my old-fashioned manual ice cream maker mirrors a miniature version of the Mexican garrafa setting with great accuracy, except the freezing agent is a liquid with low freezing point contained between the double walls of the metal insert (garrafa) and a plastic paddle with a churning handle plays the role of the wooden spatula:

002 Donvier Ice Cram Maker

I was saving a recipe for sweet corn sorbet – the flavour I tried in Tlaquepaque – for a future post, but it seemed like a valid decision to make a batch now as well, and include it here, along with the lime flavour.

Mexican Sorbet – Nieve de garrafa

Printable recipe: Mexican Sorbet – Nieve de garrafa

Lime Sorbet Base

2 cups cold water
½ cup sugar
2 large limes, juice only

Add sugar to water and stir until all the sugar has dissolved.  Add lime juice and stir to incorporate.

Sweet Corn Sorbet Base

1 cup sweet corn kernels; blanched in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then transferred to very cold water and drained (or frozen, right from the package, are excellent)
1 cup cold water
½ cup sugar

Blend all the ingredients together; strain through a mesh:

003 Sweet corn base for sorbet

To make a garrafa setting as close as possible to a traditional one, store a metal pot in the freezer until completely chilled, then fill a larger bucket halfway with ice mixed with a generous amount of salt, and place the empty chilled pot in the bucket, pushing down so the ice surrounds the sides of the pot, being careful that no ice falls inside. Pour sorbet base in the pot, and spin the pot around a few times. At one-minute intervals, scrape frozen sorbet base off the sides and bottom of the pot, and continue until no liquid is left.  Alternatively, instead of using a bucket with ice, place chilled pot with sorbet base back in the freezer, and bring out to scrape edges and bottom with a wooden spatula every now and then (always handling with dry hands and a dry towel), until no liquid is left.

As mentioned above, a manual ice cream maker works very similarly to an old-fashioned garrafa setting. I have a post with detailed instructions on how to operate a manual Donvier™ ice cream maker. The only difference for water-based recipes is that the paddle is turned more frequently than for ice cream. The metal insert must be clean and completely dry, then stored in the freezer for at least 24 hr. With the plastic seal (O-ring) attached, it is placed inside the plastic tub (photo below, left); the paddle is placed at the centre, then the prepared sorbet base is poured in (photo below, right, with lime flavour):

Place and lock lid and attach handle, then turn 3 times clockwise (photo below, left); let rest for one minute, then turn 3 times, always in a clockwise direction.  Repeat process at one-minute intervals; in the photo below, right, lime sorbet is forming after 5 repetitions:

Continue until no liquid is left.  Sorbet may be transferred to a container with lid and stored in the freezer but, because no stabilizers are added, it is recommended to consume within a week, because it tends to lose its airy consistency.  Add to floats and other frozen beverages, or serve in a cup:

008 Lime sorbet

 It is the same procedure for any flavour of sorbet base, such as sweet corn:

009 Sweet corn sorbet

The lime sorbet had that charm from simpler times; I remember when it was prescribed at hospitals after tonsil removal surgery (I never had the procedure, but was always jealous of my friends telling the story.)

The sweet corn flavour was a novelty for me in Tlaquepaque, and I was surprised of how creamy and rich it was, even though there was no dairy products in it; this makes it a great vegan dessert.  My homemade version turned out very close, and my family was equally surprised and delighted.

This method is used to prepare an infinity of different sorbet flavours, following the riff of: water/sweetener/main ingredient puree.  In addition to lime and sweet corn, other classic flavours include: hibiscus tea, red wine, coconut, walnut, strawberry, and mango; some more adventurous are: rose petal,  piña colada, mole, and even shrimp cocktail!

I am sharing my recipe at Over the Moon #208, graciously hosted by Marilyn @ Marilyn’s Treats and Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn. UPDATE: Special thanks to Bev for featuring this recipe at her Over the Moon #209!

I am bringing my desserts to Fiesta Friday #312 with Angie @ Fiesta Friday, this week co-hosting with Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau.

32 thoughts on “Mexican Sorbet – Nieve de Garrafa

  1. Yes, something to try when the weather warms up. I know I’ll like the lime and the corn one sounds intriguing. A friend of mine used to make a delicious champagne sorbet with her little ice cream maker.


  2. We just came across our bowl for our ice cream maker in the freezer. I am definitely trying your sweet corn version. It sounds amazing. As soon as sweet corn appears at the lical farm stands! Cant wait.

    Liked by 1 person

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