Branded as an alternative to coconut water, several small lines of Maple Water have hit the market in where else? Canada
Maple syrup isn't just for pancakes anymore.
Coconut water may have just met its match in a sweet beverage from the Great White North.
Maple water, a drink made from the raw sap from sugar maple trees, has debuted in Quebec and British Columbia, according to Beverage Daily. And yes, the drink apparently tastes faintly of the popular pancake pairing.
The drink is similar to coconut water in that it is a mid-caloric beverage and may be beneficial to health said Paul Rouillard, deputy director of the Quebec Federation of Maple Syrup Producers to Beverage Daily.
“The research is still going on in that. But we have identified 46 bioactive compounds. It has a variety of vitamins, minerals, organic and amino acids, polyphenols and phytohormones,” Rouillard said. “In antioxidants it is better than tomatoes.”
The market is still small for the drink, with 400,000 liters produced, but reactions from the two companies packaging the product have been positive and according to Beverage Daily, they have asked for production to be increased threefold.
Boots Beverages: Orange Drömsicle
History: We know. The name. You’re curious about the name, right? Cream pop? Sure. Creamsicle? Yup. Orange Drömsicle? What the F is that. Don’t worry, we got you. According to Boots Beverages National Director, Kim Joiner, the name ties into the roots of the Bryan, Texas-based family business. “Mark Kristen’s grandfather, Ambrose (pictured on the Sarsaparilla bottle) came over from Germany in 1862. Ambrose purchased the bottling company in February 1930.” Apparently in Germany they enjoy drömsicles. But don’t panic, everyone. This indeed is an orange cream soda. In fact, it is designed with “ultra creaminess” in mind. Joiner tells us this is the closest Boots Beverages could get to an orange cream flavor without literally putting dairy in the soda. She doesn’t pull punches when we ask what the idea behind the concept was, adding they wanted to “create the best tasting orange soda” on the market. The flavor was launched in October of 2016 as part of the second five flavors the company launched. We’ve reviewed a couple from the first round if you wanna take a peek. If you’re looking for a culinary pairing for orange drömsicle, Joiner suggests a light protein like fish or to just go all in and enjoy it with ice cream. For the more adventurous, try it with champagne poured over the top and drink in the sophistication.
Nose: Creamy orange, huge vanilla notes, dreamsicle, orange popsicle, those little childhood fake orange drink barrels, orange popsicles. The smell on this is divine. If the taste is anywhere as good as the smell, I may slip into something more comfortable…
Taste: Tangy orange zest, orange popsicles, mild vanilla. The vanilla swirls around the other flavors like a Texas tornado. It becomes more prominent as you continue drinking the soda. The orange is tangy and refreshing right off the bat, with an authentic punch. The flavors in orange drömsicle sway back and forth between zesty orange juice with smooth, mild vanilla and candy orange popsicle with bold, velvety vanilla cream. Superb.
Finish: Mild vanilla tails off, leaving a taste of light, earthy orange zest that lingers.
Rating: This is one of the best orange cream sodas on the craft soda market. It’s orange and vanilla exquisiteness. You won’t want to stop after you start drinking this, and there’s a few reasons. The flavors are familiar, but complex. Comfortable, but challenging. Refreshing, yet bold. We can’t think of anything wrong with this is what we’re saying. The way the flavors develop as you drink it is what takes orange drömsicle to the next level. Boots Beverages carefully crafted this soda in a way that mixes flavors of your childhood and adulthood. On the arrival, the orange half of the equation tastes fresh and ripe floating along a vanilla river. As you continue drinking, the orange transforms into more of a candy popsicle taste and the vanilla becomes creamier and bolder in flavor. I love the way this evolves. It’s tangy, creamy and has just the right amount of zip on it. When a soda can make you smile, it’s done its job. Boots Beverages will likely always be most known for their masterful coconut cream soda, but orange drömsicle proves there’s a new sheriff in town.
When Life Gives You Too Many Doughnuts, Make Day-Old Doughnut Bread Pudding
Bon Appétit editor at large Amiel Stanek has spent years trying to help readers get dinner on the table as quickly and efficiently as possible. So when he gets to cook for himself, he likes to slow things down and be a little. extra. This is Not So Fast, a column dedicated to his favorite ingredient: time.
My favorite ingredient is anything I have too much of. Necessity may be the mother of invention, but sometimes “necessity” is the product of abundance, not scarcity. A cardboard box brimming with tomato seconds from the farmers’ market. Fall apples piling up at the base of a friend’s tree. The black trash bag full of day-old doughnut your housemate dragged out of the dumpster and deposited in your kitchen. I love the urgency that toomuchness inspires, the need to cook and experiment and deal with it all right now—and to gather all of your friends for a giddy, impromptu feast, because lord knows you can’t eat it all yourself. Okay, yes, I’ll get back to the dumpster doughnut bit. When I was in college, I knew a lot of kids—punks, burners, and Greenpeace types alike—who did a lot of dumpster diving. For the uninitiated, this semi-legal activity usually entails rooting around in the garbage behind food businesses in search of items that, while “perfectly good” (a subjective term), have been discarded for reasons that range from the somewhat-sensible to the absurd.
As such, it wasn’t uncommon for someone to walk into the communal area of a co-op or group house and upend a backpack full of free food—barrels of cheese puffs that were a day past their sell-by dates, dented containers of hummus, entire cakes that had been in the bakery case a day too long—before a hungry hoard of (probably stoned) college students. And when one friend in particular discovered that a certain national doughnut and coffee chain always deposited their unsold pastries into clean bags separate from all the other refuse and kindly placed said bags on top of their dumpsters, well, you get the picture. We were up to our ears in free, slightly stale doughnuts, crullers, and bear claws. And so doughnut bread pudding was born.
We’ll take a bag of the glazed yeasted ones, please!
Bread pudding is one of my all-time favorite desserts, in no small part because it feels like a scrappy magic trick—you start with stale bread that nobody wants to eat, add a few basic ingredients, and end up with a steamy, special-feeling homemade dessert. It’s also infinitely variable, and takes on the unique character of whatever baked product serves as its base. I’ve served mild, milky versions made with white sandwich bread, tangy sourdough-based ones, and eggy variations made with challah, all to great effect. But nothing raises eyebrows and elicits quite the same delight as one made with doughnuts.
The idea alone has a scintillating tinge of the forbidden, dessert made from dessert, conceptually naughty like pork cooked in milk or scrambled chicken eggs topped with fish eggs. But conceptual appeal aside, bread pudding made from doughnuts is also fucking good. The fried dough lends a unique, nutty flavor to the finished pudding, and it has a tender, eggy texture that reminds me of a great clafoutis. It’s rich, it’s sweet, it’s unapologetically over-the-top, and even skeptics will have a hard time turning down seconds. (It’s worth noting that it’s impolite to serve people dumpstered food without informing them of its provenance beforehand consent is king.)
While you can certainly make a successful doughnut bread pudding with whatever type of doughnut you like, I find that it’s best to stick with yeasted doughnuts that have been finished with a simple glaze or dusting of sugar. Cake doughnuts (the denser ones) tend to be too crumbly for my taste, and elaborate frostings and sprinkles feel like a bridge too far. And while it’s delicious in its most basic form, topped simply with cold cream or yogurt to cut through all that sugar, it’s also phenomenal cooked with a bit of jam or preserved. Not only does it evoke jelly doughnuts—my personal favorite—but using a not-too-sweet jam made from tart berries adds a welcome hit of acidity to an otherwise low-tone dish.
And no, obviously, you don’t need to drag a Santa-sized bag of doughnuts out of the garbage in order to make this beyond-simple dessert. You can make it with any doughnuts—bought or borrowed—so long as they have had a day or so to lose some of their moisture and stale somewhat. (Staling fresh ones yourself in the oven is also an option.) I will say, however, that this unnamed doughnut and coffee chain still makes a practice of separating their unsold, perfectly good doughnuts from all of their other trash and placing them conveniently atop the rest of the refuse at the end of the day. Not that I’ve checked.
What are the benefits of switching to a butter substitute?
"Transitioning to a more plant-based diet and opting for a 'butter' spread made from unsaturated, plant-based fats can be a great way to help improve cholesterol levels, promote heart health, and reduce inflammation," says Palinski-Wade.
And before you turn up your nose at butter substitutes because of their bad rap, consider this: your classic trans-fat-laden margarine brands are a thing of the past. Now, healthy butter substitutes eschew partially hydrogenated oils for healthy fats. That's a really good thing because a 2015 review of studies published in the British Medical Journal found that trans fats were associated with an increase in coronary heart disease (CHD) and in the number of deaths caused by CHD.
Get to know: Gin and Milk
Gin and milk. Sounds awful, right? Surely a relic of less enlightened times – the mere thought of resurrecting this combination triggers a gag reflex. Milk is a bit player on the modern bar, called up to soften one-dimensional “girlie” drinks, but kept off centre stage and certainly never allowed near gin. The White Russian is as close to the limelight as milk gets – the coffee gives an air of almost-manliness. But while a hankering for something milky no longer tempts us to step off the pavement and onto a bar stool, milk was a standard mixer for centuries. Residents of New Orleans still get it. A Brandy Milk Punch raises no eyebrows there. Since the Crescent City likes to hang on to the good stuff, could there be something in Gin & Milk after all?
Milk was once as natural a sidekick to gin as tonic. Before ice became the cornerstone of civilised tippling, milk pulled together many a celebrated concoction. Milky alchemy was central to drink slinging, the manipulation of protein, fat and dilution transforming rambunctious firewater into silky potions agreeable to the fussiest palate or most delicate constitution. The Gin & Milk was one of the simplest formulas, and one of the last to disappear. On the horizon of living memory, 1960s Britain still had rural pubs whose oldest patrons might call for a Pig’s Ear – gin and milk.
The Gin & Milk became popular in Great Britain in the Industrial Age. As a straightforward single-serve, it suited modern needs better than did its more elaborate ancestors – forgotten white wonders such as the Posset, Syllabub and Milk Punch. But quickly understanding these ancestor drinks helps put the Gin & Milk in context.
Milk was once as natural a sidekick to gin as tonic
The Posset – hot milk curdled with spiced ale – dates from medieval times. Shakespeare had Lady Macbeth drug Duncan’s guards with a Posset. Syllabub, popular in England from the 16th to the 19th centuries, was a froth of milk with wine or cider, spices and often spirit for extra kick. Hovering between a drink and a dessert, the earliest preparation was simply to milk a cow into a bowl of sweetened alcohol. Awkward logistics encouraged alternative recipes, such as hand beating, or frothing with a “wooden cow” – an aerating bellows that would achieve the same effect as a steam wand on a cappuccino machine. Both Posset and Syllabub were curdled, and served in spouted cups to let drinkers separately enjoy the curds and whey.
Milk Punch could be simple or clarified. The simple version mixed spirit with milk, sugar and spices – usually nutmeg. Gin & Milk is a simple milk punch. Since the mix tends to separate, it works best as a single serve. But in the pre-Industrial Age of leisurely group drinking, the bigger hit was clarified milk punch – also called English milk punch. This involved curdling milk punch with lemon juice, then separating the curds and whey to yield a translucent drink that was stable and could even be cellared. The inventor is widely credited as the 17th century playwright and poet Aphra Behn but, although she wrote about the drink, the earliest recipe slightly predates her life.
So while Gin & Milk may now seem foreign, during the great age of gin – Regency and Victorian England – milk was considered a natural way to tame juniperous prickles. Nor was warm gin considered remotely unquaffable. Charles Dickens, the very embodiment of the era, delighted in a hot gin punch. The humble Gin & Milk, typically enjoyed warm, was so popular in Dickensian London it could be breakfast. The journalist George Augustus Sala, a protégé of Dickens, described London’s fishmongers taking Gin & Milk as they started work at 4am. Gin & Milk’s mass appeal lay in it being both tasty and accessible – it was not just for those with the coin and leisure time to socialise around punch bowls brimming with imported liquor. Dickens surely approved. He was an evangelist for moderate drinking, believing it afforded the working classes some thrifty and well-deserved cheer.
But Gin & Milk was stepping back from the stage as the curtain fell on the Victorian era. In The Bones of Kahekili, a short story published in 1916, Jack London paints a nostalgic picture of a South Seas whaler retired to a cattle ranch in 1880s Hawaii. Hardman Pool, the protagonist, whiles away an idyllic afternoon using gin and milk to loosen the tongue of a Hawaiian elder, prying out tales of island life before the missionaries. Fading into the past by the start of the last century, could this Victorian gin ritual be worth a new look? Some adventurous bartenders think so, and recently it seems cocktail competition judges agree.
Five dates to remember
1843 A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens describes how Bob Cratchit “compounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons”, whereupon the impoverished Cratchit family marked Christmas with steaming gin punch. During gin’s golden age, warm gin signalled celebration, not failed party planning. On a related note, a contemporary nickname for gin was “mother’s milk”, again knocking modern preconceptions by juxtaposing milk and gin. Contemporary gin dogma bears no resemblance to how our ancestors drank. They did invent gin, so perhaps we should set down our martini glasses and listen?
1859 George Augustus Sala, in Twice Around the Clock, or the Hours of the Day and Night in London, records “gin mingled with milk” as “the favoured morning beverage” among fishmongers at London’s Billingsgate Market.
1862 Jerry Thomas gives recipes for single-portion milk punches, served hot and cold. While his recipes use brandy and rum, no doubt some customers requested gin. His bartending manual also covers clarified milk punch.
1888 Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual instructs bartenders to make a “Gin and Milk” as follows: “Hand the bottle of gin, glass, and spoon out to the customer to help himself, fill up the balance with good, rich ice cold milk, stir up with a spoon and you will have a very nice drink.”
1916 The Bones of Kahekili, a Jack London tale of 1880s Hawaii, sees a Polynesian elder wax lyrical on Gin & Milk: “Much awa have I drunk in my time. . . Yet is the awa but a common man’s drink, while the haole liquor is a drink for chiefs. The awa has not the liquor’s hot willingness, its spur in the ribs of feeling, its biting alive of oneself that is very pleasant since it is pleasant to be alive. . . There is a warmingness to it. It warms the belly and the soul. It warms the heart. Even the soul and the heart grow cold when one is old.” A drink that won fans born in a pre-Christian tropical paradise must surely be worth trying, no?
2010 The gin and dairy combo quietly reappears in craft cocktail bars. Clarified milk punch is a trend among a handful willing to devote a couple of days to curdling, straining and clarifying. The New York Times reports on the phenomenon in 2014 and Esquire awards cocktail of the year to Los Angeles bar-restaurant Faith and Flower for their English Milk Punch – a complex blend of brown spirits, pineapple and aromatics created by Michael Lay. More surprising still are the inroads by warm gin and milk drinks: Jean Philippe Causse of Coss Bar, Montpellier wins the 2014 Trophées du Bar with his Gin Milk Punch – gin and warm milk frothed with an espresso wand and aromatised with vermouth, saffron and lavender. Then there’s the Brotherly Love from Phillip Pinsley of Le Colonial, San Francisco – a traditional Gin & Milk spiffed up with vanilla and citrus in the form of Licor 43.
Donald Trump’s Pledge to Defend Article XII of Constitution Raises Eyebrows
To the list of eyebrow-raising moments at meetings between presumed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and congressional Republicans on Thursday add this: an exchange about the U.S. Constitution.
At a closed-door meeting with House Republicans, Mr. Trump took a question about the U.S. Constitution. House Republicans have been especially focused Article I, which spells out the powers granted to Congress, because of concern about overreach by the executive branch. This concern has been acute during President Barack Obama's time in the Oval Office.
In attempting to demonstrate his reverence for the U.S. Constitution, Mr. Trump said that he supported not just Article I, but an Article XII as well. That caused some brows to furrow, because the U.S. Constitution has only seven articles.
"It wasn't a surprise to anybody that he might get a little bit ahead of himself regarding to the number of articles that exist in the Constitution," said Rep. Mark Sanford (R., S.C.), who wasn't impressed with Mr. Trump in his visit. "There were a number of folks that looked at each other funny when he said 'I'm for Article I, I'm for Article II, I'm for Article XII."
Other congressmen were more charitable. "He was just listing out numbers," said Blake Farenthold (R., Texas), as quoted by Talking Points Memo. "I think he was confusing Articles and Amendments. Remember, this guy doesn't speak from a TelePrompter. He speaks from the heart."
How To Enjoy Sugar-Free Syrup
Now, this seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? But, friends, you’ve got options!
Prefer to use a certain type of flour in your keto pancakes or waffles? Need to go dairy-free? Want to jazz them up? Take this easy sugar-free maple syrup to any of these recipes for a keto treat you’re going to fall in love with. Seriously.
Check out these coconut flour pancakes made with cream cheese. Six ingredients whipped up in the blender, cooked into fluffy flapjacks… and topped with sugar-free pancake syrup.
And if you need a dairy free pancake… no worries! These almond flour pancakes cook up quickly and are just waiting to be drizzled with sugar-free syrup.
There’s also my personal favorite: a low carb keto pancake recipe that uses both coconut and almond flours for that perfect texture without the carbs. Fluffy and sweet and perfectly delicious with just some butter, they are over-the-top, melt-in-your-mouth awesome with this sugar-free pancake syrup on them.
Finally, there’s keto paleo almond flour waffles! They’re simply the best with this keto syrup.
Yep, I’m pretty sure this sugar-free pancake syrup makes almost any low carb breakfast better!
Do you recommend any suppliers for the dye? Do you have it in your Amazon store?
I will add the links to the products on the front page. They aren’t cooperating at the moment but I will have something up there very soon.
I just finished building a pendulum baby cradle for my first grandchild due in December. I used curly maple because of the beautiful grain, plus, I live in “Tiger Country” in South Louisiana (LSU). I was glad to see your recent video on the pencil holder staining and coating. It gives me an idea now of what I want to do with the cradle.
Hi Marc……….quick, sweet and right to the point. Excellent comparison of both boards. ….Good POP.
I have a finishing/dye question…..Previously you had mentioned using wenge on armoires, in the course of those builds, how did you handle the yellow grain color that becomes exposed when milling. They are leg blanks that I epoxied together (approx 3ࡩ x6) I know over time it darkens, but the areas retain a dull look. I experimented with some transtints, but know looks to dark. I didn’t try it in shellac and I’m thinking the approach you just showed might work. How did you determine a starting point for the number of transtint drops.
Hey there Neil. Thanks for stopping by. The wenge I used didnt really show much yellow grain. I am assuming in wenge, thats the sapwood (not 100% sure). Either way, I simply cut around it or made sure it was in an inconspicuous location.
From what you describe, it sounds like the wood will perk up a bit once it receives a topcoat. But I have to say that I honestly dont like the look of wenge when its finished. Most finishes (especially oil-based), leave the wenge looking much darker than I’d like and it sort of loses that dark brown/black striping contrast that I see in the raw lumber. The wenge pieces I build this summer looked very cool until I put the tung oil on. The grain became very “muddy” and looked more like a bunch of ebonized alder or maple. So what Im saying is those dyed areas might blend in much better when you apply your finish.
As for the transtints, its just experimentation. If you follow the directions on the bottle, you will use the stuff up pretty fast. But in this case I want to use as little dye as possible since I really dont want to change the color of the surface. And that wild grain soaks the dye up like a sponge. So 7-8 drops seems to be adequate for that small amount. But its all trial and error really.
Hope that at least partially answers your question Neil.
It’s really odd to me that out of the blue, you stated that General finishes are among your favorite on the market. It’s odd because, well, Charles Neil seems to prefer General finishes. Oddly enough, Charles Neil also has a video on Youtube called “Pop goes the finish”, where he shows how to bring the curl out in wood, kinda like, well, kinda like you did in episode 32. Man, what a coincidence, huh?
lol. What are you implying sir? Who is Charles Neil anyway. Actually i have noticed his posts in the forums but haven’t had a chance to dig into his videos yet.
But if you’ve seen any of my older videos, you would know that my affinity for General Finishes products goes back to my first days of woodworking (something I took from David Marks).
That is funny that the titles of the videos are nearly the same. But if you are looking to make a clever title using the word “pop”, I suppose 9 out of 10 people would title it “Pop goes the something”.
And I might be exposing too much of myself here, but Ill let you in on a little secret. NONE of this is new information. Neither Charles, nor I, will tell you anything that you couldn’t find in a book somewhere. Its presenting it in a simple and digestible format that really makes it unique and worthwhile. We all learned it from somewhere or someone else. So if you look hard enough, you will find lots of “coincidences”.
I’ve been enjoying your sites (both this one and woodtalkonline) for a few months now. I think your doing a great job and I really appreciate what your share here… and am impressed that you give honest, objective opinions about tools, blades, etc of companies that you may have a sponsored relationship with (I see many sites that present themselves as objective reviewers but clearly are shills for the vendor). It’s also impressive that you don’t simply remove the negative “hater”-type posts such as those by Ben M. above (You’re a better man than me). Last time I checked many of the processes/techniques encompassed within woodworking go back a year or two… I hope someone doesn’t accuse you of using a table saw next because I’m afraid to report that there is a rumor that someone has already captured this elusive machine on video and posted it to youtube. -]
I have some curly cherry and think I’m going to give this a try. Would a darker dye like a dark walnut pop the grain even more or is that just a bad idea? I’ll be clicking through and buying the dye at Rockler. I couldn’t believe how pricey it was though so I looked around for cheaper but it does seem to go for about $17. I did see a site that sells for $13, veenersupplies.com, and would order there if I didn’t need to place an order with Rockler for other items as well. Others may find that site useful though.
Again keep up the great work! I’m a woodworking noob and have a million questions so you’ll probably be hearing from me ad nauseum. Course, I’m still trying to do my due diligence in terms or reading literature and watching instructional DVDs before asking questions. There’s just so much to learn!
Catch ya later,
I really enjoyed this video also.
Being a newbie myself, I had a question as to why you did not use General Finishes Seal-a-Cell as the first step instead of the Bulls Eye? I am not being critical, this whole finishing business can be confusing! :)
From what I gather from your site and David Marks’ site – the duo of Seal-a-Cell and then Arm-R-Seal is a solid combo for a great finish. I am just trying to get my head around the difference between the Bull Eye Sealer and the Seal-a-Cell since they seemingly do the same thing?
Thanks for checking out the video guys.
Charles- The first part of your comment had Nicole and I both cracking up. As to your curly cherry, its all about experimentation. The walnut dye will indeed create a major contrast. And possibly to a great effect. But it really depends on the look you are trying to achieve. On my piece, I wanted a mild color change. The curl already looked great and didnt need much help. But if you want a curl that just smacks you in the face from across the room (a good thing), then you might want to play with that walnut dye. Just try it on a scrap piece first and see what you think.
And yes, those dyes are SUPER expensive. Thats why I try to use as little as possible. I usually wait till Rockler has some kind of sale so I can stock up.
Jeff- One of the most annoying things about finishing is the marketing and terminology. As if it wasn’t difficult enough to understand what different finishes do and when to use them, the manufacturers themselves confuse the issue by coming up with marketing terms and labels that only serve to further confuse the consumer.
First let me say that a thinned coat of any finish, be it shellac, lacquer, or varnish, will serve as a “sealer”. Seal-a-Cell can certainly be used as a sealer. But in my opinion, dewaxed shellac is the better material for the job. Primarily because it dries quickly and it is a nearly universal binder. It will do a good job of sealing off any oils or impurities in the wood and allows the next coat of finish to bind tightly. Now in the case of this dye, I don’t believe the Transtint is even oil soluble. Also, since the next step is a good sanding, the quicker it dries, the better. Hope that helps to clear up some of the muddy water.
Great video, I learn something from every one you do! Hey any chance you might do a video on finishes. I too am confused by all the different types, I don’t understand, why you should choose one over the other or even “how” to choose one over the other, guess that is why I always use tung oil, lol…
Awesome Marc. I have a lot of curly stuff in raw form in the basement and now know a lot more about how to try finishing it. Thanks for making the “pop” so easy to understand.
Now if your name was Cesar THAT would be a coincidence!:D Nicole must’ve been busy(no outtakes). Thanks for another cool episode. I assume that “popping” can be done on any figured wood. Any suggestions which woods are the best and which just don’t work well.
Great episode! That little bit of dye certainly made a nice difference. I just made couple of Cherry boxes with a little bit of Curly Maple for the panel on the tops. Once I get the hinges on and rub them out, I’ll be posting about them. Too bad I had not seen your video first, I may have tried this technique. I’ll file it away for next time!
A question for you on the Arm-R-Seal vs. Seal-A-Cell. I have been using Arm-R-Seal for a while now and I really like the finish. I do sometime thin it with Naptha for easier application and quick drying. I used it n the boxes I just spoke of and because of their size, it was sometimes difficult to get smoothly into the nooks of the pieces. Can you comment on the differences between the Ar-R-Seal and Seal-A-Cell? Is the latter more like an oil in that you wipe on and off and it goes on very thin? Any other comments you have would be great.
Been following for a little while now and it is great to see honest and open discussions. I have a question for you relating to just this sort of thing. I am currently making some night stands out of quarter sawn white oak and want to “pop” (sorry to copy you just can’t think of another word) the grain. I would also like to fill the grain to get the ultimate smooth finish. any suggestions and can you do both. I was going to experiment but I believe that if you can ask a question and save the whole experimentation process it’s really a smarter way of working.
oh ya and remember imitation is the greatest form of flattery.
Mark- You ask a very good question. What exactly is the difference between Seal-a-Cell and Arm-R-Seal? Unfortunately, the product labelling doesn’t help us much does it. One thing is clear. Both are varnish. Now some believe that Seal-a-Cell also contains some pure oil, qualifying it as an oil/varnish mixture. While I wouldn’t bet my house on it, I have seen no evidence that it does. Any oil/varnish mixture I’ve used in the past has had several traits in common. First, you have ALOT of working time. The oil component allows you to let the finish soak in for 5-10 minutes then wipe off the excess. Seal-a-Cell usually tacks up in that time. Also, when you place a drop of the material on a non-porous surface (like glass), Seal-a-Cell dries to a flat smooth film. This is a characteristic of pure varnish. Oil/varnish blends on the other hand usually dry in a wrinkly puddle. I find find it relatively easy to build up a film with Seal-a-Cell. This is something that seems to take longer with most oil/varnish blends. So my best educated guess? Seal-a-Cell is nothing more than a diluted varnish made with a resin or combination of resins that impart an attractive amber color to the workpiece.
Arm-R-Seal is clearly pure varnish. Again diluted for a wiping formula. This material is pretty close to clear and is supposed to have a high solids count meaning it results in a tougher finish that you would get with Seal-a-Cell. This is why a coat or two of Seal-a-Cell followed by a few coats of Arm-R-Seal gives you a reasonably durable finish with a nice color to boot.
Baldy- Just an opinion so take it for what its worth. Part of what Q-sawn white oak so beautiful is its grain and pore structure. It tends to lose some character when you fill the grain or even when you put on too much finish. Just food for thought.
Now to answer your question. When I think of “popping” the grain, I think of figured wood. Curly, quilted, flame, beeswing, etc… All things resulting from wild grain. Quarter sawn white oak (QSWO), on the other hand, features an amazing medullary ray fleck pattern. These flecks seem to not absorb as much color as the rest of the wood, so they stand out a bit when stained and especially when fumed with ammonia. So you are kind of looking at the opposite situation that we have with the maple. This is why I dont really think of the popping technique when working with QSWO. So dying the QSWO can give you wonderful results, but certainly not the same thing we see with curly woods.
So to specifically answer your question, if you still want to dye the wood and fill the pores. I would fill the grain using a commercial pore filler like Barleys. Make sure you get the color you want. Follow the instructions to fill the pores. I cover this procedure in one of my early videos on refnishing.
Once dry, you will have to sand the filler off the surface. Once you are back to bare wood, you can then apply your dye or stain as you normally would.
I hate to throw so much at you. If you want more information, email me with your specific questions and Id be more than happy to explain further.
Amber's Newbie Guide to Alchemy and Crafting - The Stuff You Need to Know
I wrote and posted this in my guild forum but thought someone on here might be interested. Most of you who have played both betas or spent time on other regions servers probably already know all of this stuff.
Hey all, after spending the second beta doing a stupid amount of alchemy and struggling with the headaches it gave me I decided Iɽ do a quick guide outlining some important info. In this post I'll be addressing the basics of Alchemy and Crafting (including house Purposing), some particular nodes, and a few other minor observations I've made. Also, in light of the similarities between Alchemy and Cooking, the Alchemy portions of the guide may well be of interest to prospective Chefs. If you have any questions feel free to ask me.
BDO Tome - This website has a wealth of information as well as an interactive map (which the link will take you to). NOTE: The map isn't quite as detailed as the one in-game and some of the names of places are not the same as they are within the NA release.
BDFoundry - This one has Alchemy and Cooking recipes, as well as a bunch of guides. I found the guides to be useful but lacking as they seem to be directed towards more experienced players. NOTE: Just as with BDO Tome, many of the names of things (materials primarily) are not the same as in NA release. Be cautious.
BD Database - This website is a straight database of everything you could ever want to know.
IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE that what city you choose as a base will determine where you want most of your workers stationed. This guide is intended to make use of Calpheon as a home city, with workers stationed in various other cities depending on which nodes you personally need.
Starting Off - So you want to be an Alchemist?
While very basic Alchemy and Cooking recipes can be done using basic ingredients and your Processing menu (accessed by hitting L), the really useful stuff will nearly always require the use of both special tools and rare ingredients. In both cases, you will need to be using those contribution points and getting your workers active. With that in mind, here's a checklist to help you get on your way. Once everything on this list is done you should have everything you need.
Hire workers - Visit the worker manager in your chosen city to hire up some workers. You can have one worker per city without needing to Purpose a room to Lodging (more on this later). At the cost of 5 energy the worker manager will show you a worker who you can hire (or not). Pay attention to the race-- Giants work the slowest, Humans at a medium speed, and Goblins the fastest. Stamina- how many times they can do tasks before getting tired- is the opposite with Giants having the most and Goblins the least.
Identify and invest in the nodes that have the materials you need - Some materials you can mine or gather yourself (most metals and woods, for example) and some you cannot. You might have to research some of those materials to find out where to get them. Once you've found the node, make use of the world map to see how it connects to the closest city. Every node between it and the city needs to be activated, which is done by speaking to the Node Manager of each one, selecting Node Management, and then contributing the required amount of Contribution Points. Keep in mind that the actual gathering points you will be sending your workers to must be invested into as well- activating just the first node is not enough.
Purposing a residence - You must have a residence to make use of an Alchemy or Cooking Tool (these can be purchased from Alchemists or Furniture Vendors OR crafted). I personally pick residences close to Marketplace Directors because I buy a good chunk of my materials, but other good places would be near main roads or someplace pretty. Once you have one, enter it and hit the button at the top left that says Place Furniture. Set down your tool and you'll be ready to rock.
Putting a bed in said residence - Resting in a bed grants you more energy regeneration. Whereas you usually regen 1 energy per 3 minutes, resting in a bed gives either 2 per 3 minutes (for beds bought from Furniture Vendors or crafted yourself) or 3 per 3 minutes (if you buy the bed from the Pearl shop) Infinitely important, I owe Star my life for telling me about this. Keep in mind that these tools have durability points and will eventually break.
Got all that? Then you're ready to move on!
Down and Dirty - Concocting your first potion(!!) and more.
. Alright, I lied. Truth is there is no way to make HP/MP potions in Black Desert-- sorry! There are, however, many incredibly useful elixirs you CAN make, and many ingredients vital to high level crafting come from Alchemy. Before we get into those (I will get into them briefly later) though, let's cover a few basic Alchemy recipes. Simple Alchemy can be selected from the options in your Processing Menu and it can be used to create (as far as I am aware) three things: Herbal Medicine, Concentrated Herbal Medicine, and. ENRICHED Herbal Medicine (heh). These are simple drinks which restore Mana (I know I said MP potions didn't exist. it's a medicine ) ) and they are super easy to make. You need two ingredients: 3 Sunrise Herbs (from gathering herbs in the wild, they are all over) and 1 Mineral Water (can be bought from an Inn Manager, it's cheap). Once you've got them, bring up the Processing Menu, click Simple Alchemy, add the ingredients from your inventory via right-click, and hit Create. Viola! Herbal Medicine. Once you level up and have more Mana you'll want to make the stronger versions. Simply put 3 Herbal Medicine in the Simple Alchemy and it will give you 1 Concentrated Herbal Medicine in return. Same deal for Concentrated. Yeah. It's that easy.
(See edits at the bottom for another useful bit that is related to these.)
While these totally-not-Mana-potions are neat and all, there are better things to do with your energy in my opinion. "But Amber," you say, "I'm still beginner rank! I can't make all those fancy elixirs like you!" Don't worry, I've got you covered. I initially got into Alchemy to make Metal Solvent, one of the ingredients of one of the ingredients to a sword I had my eyes on, and it required at least Apprentice rank in Alchemy, so I've got this part figured out.
With my eyes set on Apprentice I found a recipe that was cheap to make and it turned out to be a lucky pick. Pure Powder Reagent is a recipe that you can make using an Alchemy tool and the ingredients are ones you can get yourself or have your workers gather without much effort. It sells for a decent price (
2k-3k/ea during the beta) and is used in tons of recipes later on (sell or save, your call, no bad options).
You will need one of each of these:
Sugar - NOT RAW SUGAR. You can buy both Sugar and Raw Sugar from Inn Managers. Make sure you get the right one.
Silver Azalea - This is a plant you can gather yourself or send your workers to get, either or. It was VERY cheap on the market during beta. If you want to have your workers gather it, best place I found was directly West of Heidel and named Lynch Farm Ruins (Another view).
Weeds/Wild Grass - You can use whichever you want. Weeds were cheaper on the Market at the time, so I used those.
Purified Water - This you will have to get yourself and was the bane of my existence. From a Materials Merchant you will need to buy Empty Bottles, mosey on down to a river, then right click them in your inventory. Your character will fill them with river water (sea water will not work) one at a time, which you will then sift (using the Sifting option in the Processing menu) to get Purified Water. The reason this is a pain is because it will cost you 2 energy for each bottle- one to get water from the river and one to sift it- and energy is scarce. As you level up you will randomly start getting two Purified Water for one, which is awesome.
Got them? Head on over to your Residence and use your Alchemy tool. Right click each one (1 each) and hit Create. The option next to Create says Continuous Production- this simply will repeat the Alchemy until an ingredient (or your Energy) runs out. IF YOU HIT THIS read the popup. Only put in the number of ingredients it takes to make ONE of the result even if you're doing continuous, it will pull the next ingredients from your inventory automatically. If you put in more than you need to create it, the Alchemy Tool WILL EAT THEM ALL and you will still only get one of the result.
Once your character is done playing with beakers and shit you'll be the proud owner of a baby Pure Powder Reagent and some Alchemy experience. Congrats! From there you can either sell that for some cash or keep it and take the Alchemy one step further. If you want to sell them, just keep doing the same thing over again until you hit Apprentice.
OPTIONAL - Making an elixir.
If you want to save some energy or hate rivers, this is the best route to go (if you love spending energy and rivers and still want to make some useful elixirs, skip down a bit). Now that you've got some Pure Powder Reagents there is a recipe you can make that doesn't require any Purified Water (thank God) and it is just as cheap. You'll be making the intimidating-sounding-yet-disappointingly-mediocre Elixir of Life, which raises your max HP by 100 for 5 minutes. At low levels that's actually not half bad but I digress.
5 Fox/Weasel Blood - This is something tons of new players gather early in the game thinking it is cool. It is cool-- for us, since supply makes it stupid cheap on the Market. 140/ea during beta. (If for some reason there isn't any on the market you will want to find a new recipe. Killing them and draining their blood yourself costs energy that you could better spend getting more Purified Water.)
3 Small Health Potions - Cheap to buy from a General Merchant, sometimes even cheaper on the Market. Take these and put them in your Alchemy Tool-- make sure you put in the correct amounts of each. Hit the button and you'll get yourself some Elixir of Life. While these sold for about 800/1k each during beta I expect that these will be thoroughly worthless a week after launch. I won't be the only person who sees them as easy experience.
Other Elixirs - For people who like spending 2 energy for a bottle of water.
While I didn't make any of these, looking at BD Foundry's recipe list made it clear to me that these may interest some of you. The elixirs that I see right away that use simple ingredients are Elixirs of Mental (max MP +100), Resuscitation (HP regen +10), Vitality (MP regen +10), Defense (damage reduction +5), and Power (monster damage -15%). These all require multiple bottles of Purified Water each, but once people start selling that on the Market they might be a more viable choice for leveling Alchemy. If you find an elixir you want to make (listed here or not) and are having trouble finding the ingredients let me know, I'll see if I can't out where to get them.
Alchemy and Crafting - Metal Solvent how I hate thee (and my closing remarks on Alchemy).
Beyond making colored waters and making you hang out in rivers, Alchemy is vital to crafting almost everything. The first instance of this I ran into was when I saw that the sword I wanted to make required a Pure Tin Crystal which you get from heating Tin Ingots and Metal Solvents together (NOTE: This requires Artisan level Processing, 3 ingots and 2 Metal Solvent). Metal Solvent is a product of Apprentice level Alchemy and is required for making any metal crystals, which are required for most every weapon. Already Apprentice level?
3 Melted Iron Fragment - To get these just Heat Iron Ore using the Processing window (5 Iron Ore = 1 Melted Iron Fragment).
1 Clear Liquid Reagent - This is a Alchemy product similar to Pure Powder Reagents. It uses almost the same recipe as them too. *1 Salt - Purchase from Inn Manager *1 Sunrise Herb - Gather or buy off Market, should be quite cheap. *1 Weeds/Wild Grass *1 Purified Water
4 Crude Stones - Get these from mining Feldspar, killing Grass Rock Crabs, or the Market.
2 Trace of Savagery - To get these you'll be needing a worker. Earlier I mentioned farming Azalea from Lynch Farm Ruins and you'll be sending your worker there for these. Talk to the Node Manager again and, at the steep cost of 25 Energy, complete the conversation option. Doing so will unlock a mining node within Lynch Farm Ruins which says it yields Imp Horns. What it doesn't say is that it will also give you Trace of Savagery, but it will. Invest in it and send a worker over from Heidel to get them.
In a similar vein to Purified Crystals, Alchemy allows for the production of other materials needed for Crafting everything from armor to wagon parts. At BD Foundry the recipes fall under the Basic Ingredients tab. I assume most of these will require at least Apprentice in Alchemy to make and in all likely hood Artisan level Processing. This is a real pain, believe me I know. but that tells me that the people that do it first are gonna be making good money. Pure crystals of all kinds were selling for upwards of 120k each during the beta and there's no doubt in my mind that those were off lucky drops (there was only one of some and none of others) off monsters. Overall, it's gonna be a pain but profitable for sure. Also check out the Alchemy guide on BD Foundry as it talks a bit about Imperial Alchemy which, from my understanding, deals with making packs of those elixirs you make and selling them to specific NPCs for a pretty huge profit margin. It was brought to my attention that Imperial Crafting hasn't yet been brought over to NA! My bad!
Crafting - Choosing your homes.
Aside from basic Processing, Alchemy, and Cooking, all crafting in Black Desert is done by your workers in buildings you purchase. While any worker can be used to craft anything, you must have the correctly Purposed building to craft something. There are tons of different Purposes (man, that word just does not roll off the tongue. Silly Daum) and you will have to have quite a few to get anything going. I'll go over some of the important ones and some good locations I've found in the next section. For now, the basics you need to know to get a building.
When you're ready to choose a building you've got two options- either you run around the city looking for purple beams of light in front of doors (this means they are rentable) or you open up the map, click on the city, and browse them that way. You will choose the second option.
You will choose the second option.
The reason for this is because the map will have a wealth of information that you need to know. Take a look at this map here. This is the city map of Calpheon. It might be a bit big for some of you because it is a 4k image, but hopefully that will just make it easier to see the stuff I'll talk about. Looking at it you should see lots of little house icons, some grey and some blue. The blue houses are the ones which you can rent, grey you cannot. yet. Look closer-- see the lines from house to house? Just like Nodes, some houses you can only get once you've unlocked the previous one (NOTE: to buy the higher floors of a building you must first purchase the lower ones). In a small city like Heidel these are less important, but this isn't a big city, so you'll benefit greatly from paying attention to those. The reason for that is that not every building can be used for any Purpose. In addition to that, the Purposes that a building DOES have access to all have multiple levels. While two buildings might both have the same choices for Purposes, one might be able to be upgraded to level 3 while the other can only reach level 2. Here's an example of a house which has access to a level 3 Refinery. The triangle arrows next to a Purpose show how many levels it can be upgraded. That same building can become a level 5 Storage or a level 4 Weapon Workshop or a level 5 Armor Workshop or a level 1 Residence. Each level unlocks new crafting options with the highest levels often unlocking things that can be very difficult to get, so it is important to know which buildings have the best levels. Often these buildings will require you to purchase several homes to unlock them, as you can see here. If you reference the first picture of Calpheon you can see that this building with a level 5 Furniture Workshop is the third building in from the closest purchasable house. (I've taken enough screenshots of the building options in Calpheon that you could easily plan out entire purchasing paths for any feasible situation, some of which I will share here. If you want the whole shebang reply or send me a message and I'll message you the whole Imgur album. It's large.)
Once you've picked the building(s) you want, it's time to purchase them and Purpose them. Click the blue house, click Purchase. This will cost a bit of money (a couple thousand, really nothing major) and a Contribution Point. Of course by now you probably realize this but allow me to reiterate- Contribution Points are pretty Daum important (heh. hehehe) and should be invested carefully. Luckily, you really are investing them-- if you need your points back or no longer need a house/node you can sell/withdraw contribution back from them. Once you've purchased a house you'll need to choose it's Purpose.
Purposing - What do you want to craft?
Purposes for houses all have very specific uses and you will not need one of all of them (probably. at least not right away). Let's go over some of the basic ones and your options in Calpheon regarding them
Storage - Adds a few spaces of storage to your Warehouse at this city. This can be really important as you play, especially if you're using one city as a main hub. I was filling up my warehouses after only a few days in the betas.
Residence - Residences are literally your homes. You decorate them, add useful Tools, invite people over, and get assaulted in your sleep at them. Residences are always level 1.
Lodging - Lodging allows you to hire more workers in that particular city. You will need some of these, especially if you use workers for a lot of your gathering.
Furniture Workshop - You craft furniture for your Residences here.
Horse Ranch - This building allows you to house more horses in the stables of the city.
Armor Workshop - Craft Propane and Propane Accessories here! Kidding. Armor.
Weapon Workshop - Weapons! NOTE: Not all weapons can be made here. The Weapon Workshop only deals with some-- swords and daggers.
Carpentry Workshop - Weapons! Sortof. This place is solely for bows and shields.
Tool Workshop - You can make tools here. This is one of the most important buildings as the tools you craft are infinitely superior to those you get from NPCs. Level 3 has all the tools except for an Advanced Alchemy Tool.
Refinery - You can make Blackstone Powder here (an important ingredient in Crafting) as well as other things needed to enhance weapons and armor. Level 3 ones are common enough to find.
Mineral Workbench - This is the Purpose you need to refine melted ore fragments into ingots. Vital and common.
Wood Workbench - Same deal but with logs and planks.
NOTE: When I wrote this for my guild I included pictures of locations of the highest tier of each of these within Calpheon, but due to formatting differences (our site uses BBC while Reddit uses Markdown) I decided to do without them.
Other Purposes allow you to improve wagons and boats, make better use of various materials, as well stuff like crafting secondary weapons and accessories.
At this point it helps to decide what you want to get from your city. If it is just a resource collecting hub, all you'll need is Storage and Lodging, while if it is your main town you'll probably be looking at getting a lot of places (likely everything on that list there) and multiples of some. I suggest starting with, while keeping your Contribution Points in mind, a Lodging, a Mineral Workbench, a Tool Workshop, and a Residence.
Now, let's say you've decided that you want to do some interior decorating and have Purposed a Furniture Workshop with that in mind. Next you'll need to take a look at what it has to offer and, once you've picked out what you want, make sure that it is leveled enough to produce that. If you want something that is in the level 3 group while your Furniture workshop is only level 1, you're gonna need to hit that big ol' Level Up button you should see on the left side of the menu. It will cost some cash and take some time, but once it is done you'll be good to go. except you still need the mats. Take a look at what you wanted to craft again, make a list of the materials. Some of them you're likely to recognize, some you might not. If you don't recognize one or don't know how to make it, you'll need to make use of the very helpful. Crafting Notes! Hit F2 to pull it up. Alternatively, you can always use BDDatabase. In both of these you can find every material in the game along with how to get it and what it is used in. Until you've played for awhile and have a good knowledge of materials, it would be wise to research each thing required for a product before setting out to craft it. You may find that the seemingly benign third ingredient is actually a rabbit hole of production and you spend days and stupid amounts of energy leveling Alchemy to craft it only to find out you also need a really high Processing level and. You get the picture. Don't be me.
Once you've got all the required materials toss them in the warehouse of the city you're working in and you're all done with your work. Click Crafting in the menu for your building, find the desired product, choose a worker to do the deed and start him up. After a period of time that you can spend relaxing the production will finish and you've successfully crafted something!
While most resources were more or less easy to find, I did want to point out the best ways I found to get some particular mats (coal and tin). There are other ways to get these, but these seemed best to me. Coal could be mined manually from mines in Keplan but there were dangerous mobs within. Star said there were mining spots outside but also ran into monsters at some point. Fortunately, directly north of Keplan is Keplan Quarry, to which you can send workers to gather Coal. Total cost is 2 Contribution Points. Keplan Quarry. Tin was a bit trickier. I ended up using BDO Tome to find it- the node searching function on it works great- and it was a bit out of the way. It is Behr Riverhead, which is south and ever-so-West of Calpheon, three nodes away, and directly West of Keplan. You can send workers if you want (total cost would be 5 Contribution points, I believe) but it is an area free of monsters so mining it yourself might not be a bad idea. Then again, if you get workers out there quick enough you might be able to make bank come Launch. shrug. When you go there to activate the node or mine be aware it isn't noticeable at all-- you've gotta jump up some rocks and it is all along a pond/stream. The rocks to mine are named Brophyte or something. it starts with a B. In any case, Behr Riverhead is the bottom-leftmost node in this picture.
Personally I think crafting things is very difficult in this game. I think that could change once you get enough workers automated and gathering all the time, but starting out it is going to be much easier to level and get gear that way. With the exception of Tools, it's just not feasible to craft stuff. That said, the certain Purpose buildings that allow you to enhance specific weapons and armors are definitely going to be important as I don't think you can just find enhanced gear. Seeing as enhancing weapons requires the weapon as a material, however, I think getting them as drops or whatever will be much easier than crafting them at first. It's going to be an interesting first month getting all of this stuff mastered.
I don't think I can stress how important it is going to be to get a Tool Workshop fired up and rocking. I went through so many tools during the Guild Missions we ran. Having a single better one would have been such a big help. They really aren't even difficult to make either. Just do it.
Let's see, what else. I learned a ton more during the second beta. There is so much to learn. Writing this out took a good while, but if people are interested Iɽ be more than willing to do other guides in the future as I learn more about the game.
Finally, I wanted to say again that I am really looking forward to playing with all of you. I am loving this game and I've already had so many great experiences even though I've only played for two betas. Let's have lots of fun in a week when Launch happens.
EDIT: Fixed info about beds (thanks /u/AlbelTelWicked) and Imperial Crafting (thanks /u/Zabawakie)! Thanks to all of you and to whoever gave me gold, I'm seriously so glad that people's liked this. I'm at work but I will send the link to the album to people who wanted it when I get home first thing.
EDIT 2: As a heads up and by way of useful information, I was reminded yesterday that if you melt down weapons (via heating in the processing menu) you have a chance to get the Pure Crystals that were used in making them ( you can check a weapon workshop and mouse over the recipes for weapons to see what gives what). This allows you to circumvent the need for Metal Solvent and the high processing&gathering levels needed to make them. This is significant because they are, often in conjunction with Skilled level Alchemy products (Oils), used to make the higher tier products in the game, such as Calpheon Fishing Rods and the like. In my personal experience the rate seems to be a 30% chance or so.
EDIT 3: /u/Serasangel pointed out the following and it is great information: For people who want to start simple and easy into Alchemy you should also add that you can produce herbal potions a lot more efficiently if you know that you can combine 30 herbal potions with 1 salt into 10+ higher potions for 1 energy (+ is higher the higher your Alchemy level is) instead of turning 30 into the higher versions by crafting them one by one with simple alchemy for 10 energy into 10+ potions (again + depends on your Alchemy level and the RNG gods) same also goes for grain juice: you can craft 30 grain juice and 1 sugar with simple cooking for 1 energy.
The Science of the Best Sorbet
The best sorbet I ever made was also the simplest. It was in 2013 during a glut of great strawberries, when 20 pounds of the fruit cost me all of $40 in Chinatown. I puréed 'em, added sugar, salt, and some lemon. That's it. After a few spins of the ice cream maker I had the creamiest, jammiest, and, well, strawberriest sorbet I've ever tasted.
Therein lies the golden rule of great sorbet: start with good fruit and don't screw it up.
But sometimes, despite your best intentions, good sorbet goes bad: it freezes too icy, or it tastes too sweet, or it melts into a puddle as soon as you start scooping. Though it's just as easy to make as ice cream, sorbet is a little less forgiving—its lack of fat and eggs mean you have to be more careful with your recipe.
Now the good news: sorbet has a science like anything else, and once you learn a few things you'll be ready to turn any fruit into fresh, full-flavored, and creamy sorbet—something so creamy you might confuse it for ice cream.
Sorbet in a Nutshell
Sorbet is usually made with fruit and is almost always dairy- and fat-free, but the strictest definition is simply a syrup of sugar and water that's churned in an ice cream machine. That's it: you could make a sorbet with nothing but plain water and sugar.
Sugar doesn't just sweeten sorbet—it's also responsible for sorbet's structure. In ice cream, a combination of fat, protein, and sugar all influence ice cream's texture, but in sorbet sugar is the big fish.
When you dissolve sugar in water you get a syrup with a lower freezing point than water alone, and the sweeter a syrup is (i.e. the higher the concentration of sugar), the lower the freezing point becomes. As water starts to freeze in a syrup, the unfrozen water becomes, in effect, a more concentrated syrup. This process continues until you have a bunch of small ice crystals in a sea of syrup so concentrated that it'll never really freeze.
Know Your Fruit
Remember the golden rule of sorbet? Use good fruit. No, scratch that—use the best fruit you can find: the most fragrant watermelon or the sweetest strawberries or the most ripe, juicy peaches. Nothing matters more to a sorbet's flavor than the fruit you start with.
Beyond that golden rule, the type of fruit, and what it brings to your sorbet, matters. Fruit high in pectin (berries, stone fruit, and grapes) or fiber (mangoes, pears, and bananas) are high in viscosity and full of body, and they make for an especially creamy sorbet that approximates the texture of ice cream. That's because pectin and fiber act as thickeners, their long starchy molecules working like sugar to physically get in the way of growing ice crystals.
By contrast, watermelon and pomegranate juices are thin with no body, so they need some special handling to make their textures as thick and creamy as berry or stone fruit sorbets. It's even trickier with citrus like lemon, lime, and grapefruit not only does their juice lack pectin or fiber,* they're so tart they need extra sugar to balance their flavor, and even when you add enough, the resulting sorbet isn't as rich.
*Whole citrus fruit has plenty of pectin but it's all in the rind, not the juice or flesh.
Also pay attention to how much sugar your chosen fruit brings to a sorbet. Sweet strawberry purée needs less added sugar than tart lemon juice, and every batch of fruit varies in its exact sugar content depending on season, variety, and a dozen other factors we cooks can't control. But if sugar is our biggest trick for controlling a sorbet's texture, how do we sort through all the variables?
The pros have a handy tool called a refractometer, a small telescope-like device that measures the concentration of sugar in water. Refractometers can measure sugar concentration down to the percentage point (by weight), and once you know how sweet your starting fruit juice or purée is, you can start adding sugar until you hit your magic number, a sugar concentration between 20% and 30%.
You can buy a refractometer for about $30, and if you're willing to spend the cash, there's no better tool for nailing the precise optimal concentration of sugar in every sorbet you make, regardless of what ingredients go into it.
But can you make great sorbet without any extra special equipment? Sure thing.
The Master Ratio
Four cups fruit purée to one cup sugar. That's really all you need to know.
If you don't know the exact sugar content of your fruit, the best thing you can do is play it safe. A sugar concentration between 20% to 30% will generally produce a scoopable, creamy sorbet.* Add less and your sorbet is too icy to scoop add more and it may never freeze. But within that window you have some wiggle room, especially with high-pectin or -fiber fruit like berries and stone fruit, which add stability and richness to the sorbet.
Of course there are exceptions to everything, so depending on the ice cream machine and other ingredients like stabilizers and type of fruit, these numbers may vary.
I start most of my sorbet bases at a sugar concentration of about 20%, then add the fruit's natural sugar on top of that. At most you tick up a few percentage points, but nothing to bring you out of the sorbet safe zone.
Two pounds of fruit, depending on the type, produces about a quart of sorbet. If you trim and purée that fruit, then pass it through a strainer to get rid of excess pulp and seeds, you'll wind up with about four cups of liquid. Add a cup of sugar to that purée (seven ounces by weight) and you wind up with a syrup that's 22% sugar, not counting the sugar already in the fruit.
But the ratio works: from strawberries to plums to even some thin juices like clementines, four cups of fruit to one cup of sugar makes a great sorbet that tastes like nothing but its namesake fruit: because it is nothing but its namesake fruit.
I've used this ratio for all kinds berries and stone fruit as well as pulpy fruit like mangoes and bananas—anything that has some viscosity and body once it's puréed. Since these fruits don't all weigh the same I actually prefer to go by volume—four cups of any thickened fruit purée will likely take well to a cup of sugar. For peaches, that may mean three pounds of fruit instead of two.
But don't confuse a master ratio with a master recipe—as you'll see in the recipes linked here, this is a ratio that may need adjusting. Since every fruit is different, every sorbet may need more or less sugar (less for super-sweet mangoes, for instance). Thicker fruits may need to be watered down while thin juices need bulking up with thickeners. You'll also have to add acid (lemon or lime juice are best) and salt to taste. This ratio is simply a starting point use your own taste as your ultimate guide.
What About Simple Syrup?
Look at ten sorbet recipes and at least five of them will call for making a simple syrup of water and sugar, then mixing that syrup into fruit purée. I don't care for this approach for two reasons: it dilutes the sorbet's flavor by adding water and simple syrup is a nuisance to make. So why do so many recipes call for simple syrup?
For one reason, it's just how sorbet has been done for a long time, and old kitchen traditions die hard. Adding syrup to fruit purée is also a convenient way to streamline work in a busy restaurant kitchen—provided you have a big batch of simple syrup ready to go. But neither of these are particularly compelling reasons to dilute a sorbet base with water.
There's one rationale I can get behind: some fruits are just too thick when puréed on their own. If you don't add liquid to, say, puréed pears, you wind up with a sorbet that feels like frozen applesauce. That's why Harold McGee recommends diluting some fruit in his chapter on sorbet in The Curious Cook. I agree, but I'd rather swap out water for something more flavorful. In pears' case, Riesling is nice.
Make a few batches of sorbet and you'll get an instinct for what purées are too thick—they'll look more like slushies than melted sorbet. The solution? Thin out the purée with the liquid of your choice, then measure out four cups and proceed as normal.
Should I Cook My Fruit?
This is a personal choice, but I usually don't. On the plus side, cooking fruit concentrates flavor, drives off water for a creamier final texture, and allows you to infuse spices or herbs like ginger or mint. But when I make sorbet I want it to taste like nothing but fresh fruit at its absolute best. Cooking, no matter how delicately, kills that freshness.
Some fruit, like pears, cranberries, and some plums, tastes better when cooked. If that's the case, cook away, but no more than necessary to soften the fruit. When I do cook fruit for sorbet I add bright accents: herbs, citrus zest, spices, or ginger—otherwise the sorbet simply tastes. cooked.
Adding Body to Fruit Juice
The master ratio above works great with any fruit purée that has some body and viscosity. But what about thin juices like watermelon, pomegranate, and citrus? Without any fiber or pectin they tend to produce a thin and icy sorbet, even when made with the correct amount of sugar. What's more, they're less forgiving than berry or stone fruit sorbets, because there's nothing in them besides sugar to inhibit the growth of big ice crystals.
If you're dealing with citrus juice you have another problem: the juice is so tart it needs to be diluted and sweetened with care. Go ahead: try making lemon sorbet with four cups of lemon juice and one cup of sugar: you'll get something so lip-puckeringly sour you'll barely be able to choke it down.
The solution to both of these problems is an alternative kind of sugar, one with different sweetening and freezing properties than sucrose, a.k.a. table sugar.
Sucrose is fairly sweet and doesn't add much body to a syrup. That's why pastry chefs look to liquid sugar like invert sugar, glucose, or dextrose, which all make sorbet creamier when used properly. The easiest alternative sugar—the one you can find in any American supermarket—is plain 'ol non-high-fructose corn syrup. Trust me: it's lemon sorbet's best friend.
I've written a whole article on the benefits of corn syrup in sorbet, but here are the Cliff's Notes: 1) corn syrup is highly viscous, so it makes for richer, creamier sorbet and 2) it's only one third as sweet as sugar, so you can use three times as much of it as sucrose—making your sorbet three times as creamy—without over-sweetening the end result. In a blind taste test, tasters almost universally preferred lemon sorbet made with corn syrup compared to sugar. You can see the difference in texture here.
Even small amounts of corn syrup (or other liquid sugars) can add body and creaminess to a sorbet made with sucrose. How much you use, and in what proportion to sucrose, will vary from fruit to fruit, but this lemon sorbet recipe is a good starting point for super-sour citrus.
Oh, and because I know you'll ask: no, honey, agave nectar, and maple syrup aren't good alternatives. For one, they bring strong flavors of their own that may or may not jive with your other ingredients. They're also not very effective honey has more body than sucrose, but it's so sweet you can't use much of it maple and agave don't have much body at all.
What About Alcohol?
Sorbet recipes often call for alcohol, sometimes as little as a tablespoon, to improve texture. Why? Alcohol reduces a sorbet base's freezing point, thus making the sorbet softer and easier to scoop. And the more alcohol you add, the softer the sorbet gets, until you add so much that the sorbet's freezing point is literally too cold to freeze in a conventional freezer (you start fiddling with this danger zone above five tablespoons of 80 proof alcohol per quart).
Alcohol certainly helps stubbornly icy sorbets become less icy, but it's not a miracle worker. Unlike sugar it adds zero creaminess of any kind—the sorbet will melt just as watery in your mouth. And alcohol-fortified sorbets are less stable, so they melt fast and have a tendency to re-freeze harder and icier than when they were first churned. If you're adding alcohol to a sorbet, do so in small increments, and don't leave your finished sorbet out of the freezer any longer than you have to.
Keeping it Fresh
Once you've spun your sorbet, how do you keep it in top condition? Keep it as cold as possible—in the back and bottom of your freezer piled with other items. Use an airtight container to protect your sorbet from funky freezer odors. And eat your sorbet fast—within a week for best results. Remember, this is fresh fruit we're dealing with. It doesn't last forever.
And if it All Goes Wrong?
Sometimes sorbet just goes to hell. It happens to the best of us. It's okay. Really.
I've developed a few dozen sorbet recipes and every once in a while I screw up without knowing why. My sorbet will be freeze so hard I have to chisel it out of the freezer, or I added too much sugar and it froze into a sticky slush.
If you run into problems, don't throw away your hard work: just let it sit on a counter until it melts and fiddle with the recipe. Too sweet? Add more lemon, water, or fruit. Too icy? Add more sugar until you're satisfied. Underseasoned? Lots of sorbets are simply add more salt and spin it again. Just chill your base down to 40°F or lower before you churn it again.
And if nothing seems to work and your sorbet is hopeless? Toss it in a blender with your choice of hooch and sip down that boozy slushy like the champion you are. Because sometimes dessert gives you a second chance.