A Tangy Lemon Sherbet

Lemon sherbet---before.

Lemon sherbet—before.

Lemon sherbet--after.

Lemon sherbet–after.

Here is a stunningly simple recipe for dessert. You don’t even have to have an ice cream maker, although one helps the process. My friend and island neighbor Kathy Kerr made this for a shared supper some of us enjoyed early this week. It was exactly the right thing after a wonderful, richly flavored, meal. Actually, truth be told, it would be exactly the right thing anytime. Maybe even breakfast.

I do have an ice cream maker, the kind that has a churn that one puts in the freezer. When it is sufficiently chilled, one sticks it on onto a machine with a gear that grinds it around with an irritating noise while the top holds the blades inside that scrape off frozen ice cream, sherbet, or sorbet from the interior of the churn. I often put it in the dining room, and shut the door between me in the kitchen and the noise it makes. It is handy, if annoying.

Alternatively, all one has to do is put the sherbet mixture into the freezer, contained in a bowl or baking pan, and visit it every half hour or so to stir it up until it is frozen but smooth. I have a wide, stainless steel bowl, with fairly thin sides that I would use if I didn’t have the maker.

I remember how excited my family was when my mom discovered that she could make sherbet (probably from a package mix) in a metal ice cube tray with the metal cube forms removed. Remember those? They had a handle on top that one pulled straight up to break the cubes loose. I recall she had to scrape up the freezing sherbet and then replace the tray in the refrigerator freezer, which in those days was about the size of a shoebox. I have to say, my ice cream maker is, annoying as it is, a big improvement over that.

As usual, I tinkered a little with Kathy’s recipe, and, because I have a sour tooth instead of a sweet tooth, I jacked up the lemon a little by adding lemon zest and a few drops of lemon extract. The yellow food coloring could be optional. Left to its own devices, the sherbet is more or less white, and if you don’t care whether it is lemony-looking or not, you can leave the coloring out. This recipe makes about a quart and a half of sherbet, or enough for two servings. (Joke.)

Lemon Sherbet
2 cups of milk
2 cups of water
2 cups of sugar
½ cup lemon juice
2 drops of lemon food coloring (optional)
Zest of one or two lemons (optional)
1 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix until the sugar is completely dissolved. Freeze in an ice cream maker, or pour into a metal or glass bowl, or large metal baking pan, and put into the freezer. Check back periodically to scrape toward the center congealed sherbet from the sides of the bowl or pan. Continue this process until all the mixture is frozen, and stir a few times more to break up any icy chunks that form.
Makes about a quart and a half of sherbet.

Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.