Why Does Scream Sorbet Taste Just Like the Fruit in It? Science.

Ben Narasin
Scream Sorbet in a garden of mint.
​When people say something tastes "like" something, they typically mean it tastes similar. Similar's not exact enough to describe how pure the seasonal flavors of Scream Sorbet taste. Scream's grapefruit sorbet is as clear a flavor of red grapefruit as a freshly scooped segment. The taste of mint in its lime-mint is as precise as a leaf from the garden. The flavors are a literal translation from fruit to frozen, and there's a specific, and scientific, reason why that's the case.

Scream is the current life's work of Nathan Kurz, an ex-techie and frozen dessert nerd. He takes a scientific approach reminiscent of another nerd named Nathan -- Myhrvold, the ex-Microsoft luminary turned Modernist Cuisine author.

Kurz starts with the premise that sorbet should be as much fruit as possible-- 50 percent minimum. Many of his flavors contain 80 percent fruit or more. The only other ingredients are typically water and sugar. He buys fruit from the farmers' markets where he has built his business. This means each flavor is a de facto limited edition, and favorites sell out or go out of season quickly.

Beyond the ultra-seasonality and concentration of fruit, Kurz believes the slow, scraping process of traditional ice cream making is sub-optimal for flavor. His method is to deep freeze the fruit as quickly as possible to lock in flavor. Kurz uses a refractometer, a winemaking tool that measures sugar levels in fruit, to see how sweet each batch of whole, pitted fruit is. Then he adds just enough water and sugar to reach the desired sweetness. The mixture is then frozen overnight to an ultra-low temperature in a liter-sized vessel.

Then comes the Pacojet, a mini-chop for a molecular gastronomist. Its blades core through the ice block by shaving off 2-micron-thin slices. The result, regardless of what size fruit he started with, is a creamy concoction just like ice cream. The resulting flavors are intense, bright, and pure.

Grapefruit sorbet is the perfect example of Scream's approach to flavor. If you don't like the bitter edge of the citrus fruit's pith, you won't like that exact quality in your sorbet. A bite of Kurz's pear sorbet is a nip of fruit: soft, grainy, and full of flavor. If it wasn't frozen it would run down your chin.

Scream is available at a host of farmer's markets and at its store at 5030 Telegraph in Oakland. A small scoop is $3, $5 for two or $7 for three. Pints cost $8 to $10.

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