TONY STAPLES: Turn your extra strawberries into a pretty sorbet

It's strawberry season so make the most of them with this pretty dessert says Tony Staples, executive head chef at the Arora Hotel in Crawley.

Strawberry and basil sorbet with vanilla cream
Strawberry and basil sorbet with vanilla cream

If you love going strawberry picking, but don’t know quite when to stop, this recipe is for you. When I take my children to the PYO farms, we always pick more than we can eat on the day. So, I turn our excess into sorbet. It is also a great way of using up overripe strawberries.

Savoury flavours work so well with this fruit. I have used basil in the sorbet but bergamot is also a perfect complement. If you don’t believe me, try sprinkling a little balsamic vinegar on some strawberries next time, or maybe add a touch of black pepper.

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The Grill in the Arora is Crawley’s only AA-rosette restaurant. To book, phone 01293 530000. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook or share your strawberry recipes with us on Instagram by tagging @aroragatwick.

Strawberry and basil sorbet with vanilla cream and fresh strawberries

For the sorbet (10-12 scoops):

450g punnet of strawberries

150g granulated sugar

Half bunch of basil, chopped

1tsp lemon juice

1tsp lime juice

For the vanilla cream:

100ml double cream

6g (approx. one heaped teaspoon) agar agar powder

2 vanilla pods

500ml whipping cream

Fresh strawberries to serve


To make the sorbet, put the strawberries into a bowl and break up slightly with a wooden spoon.

Stir in the basil, sugar, lemon and lime juice and leave to macerate for an hour.

Blitz in a blender until it is a smooth puree. Either place in an ice cream maker at this point or pour in to a container and pop in the freezer. After an hour, give it a good stir, then stir every half-hour to break up the ice crystals until it is frozen.

To make the vanilla cream, put the 100ml of double cream into a small saucepan with the vanilla pods and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the agar agar powder and leave to cool.

In a bowl, whisk the whipping cream until it reaches the ribbon stage (when you lift the whisk the cream should fall slowly forming a ribbon that holds its shape for a few minutes). Fold into the vanilla cream, pour into a rectangular dish. Leave to set in the fridge for at least four hours.

To serve, remove the sorbet from the freezer about 20 minutes before you want to serve it. Cut the vanilla cream into cubes and place on plates, add a couple of scoops of sorbet and decorate with halved fresh strawberries.

Chef’s tip

Once you have blended the strawberries and basil, you don’t have to freeze into a sorbet. Instead, use as a delicious coulis for ice cream, which will keep in the fridge for up to three days.

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