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Lemon Sherbet

At one time, sorbet and sherbert were the same thing: a frozen concoction of fruit juice, sugar and water, sometimes with additional flavoring added. Generally speaking, however, sherbet is no longer considered to be a type of sorbet, but rather a cross between it and ice cream. Sherbet is made from fruit juice and sugar, but also has an amount of milk, cream or an egg white added to it to improve the consistency. Sherbet is very often not pronounced as it is spelled, with people tending to say “sher’-bert” as opposed to “sher’-bet”. The former pronunciation is not incorrect; it is just different and, in my opinion, more pleasing to the ear.

The defining characteristic of sherbet is that it is very refreshing, though much less aggressive than a sorbet or granita because its flavor is tempered by the dairy in it. This makes sherbet a perfect vehicle for citrus fruits, which can be overpowering on their own. Orange is the most popular choice, but any classic American ice cream store worth their salt will have rainbow sherbet, which contains layers of orange, lime and strawberry sherbets.

This sherbet is a lemon one. It is best when you first churn it in your ice cream maker and then let it firm up for a couple of hours in the freezer before eating. Before freezing completely, it tastes just like those slushy lemonade drinks that you can get at fairs and theme parks, but much better. An ice cream maker will definately give you the best results when making this recipe as the ice crystals will be small and evenly distributed, but pouring it into a freezer safe container and stirring it every 30 minutes or so until it is frozen will still produce a fairly good result.

The sherbet is creamy and delicate. It is sweet but has a sharp lemon flavor that becomes more noticeable the more you eat, so it is best to serve this in small portions. If you eat too much, you’ll probably feel your taste buds start to tingle. I would not recommend reducing the amount of sugar because the texture of the dessert will start to suffer. This sherbet is incredibly refreshing and an excellent end to a heavy meal or a sweet way to finish off a summer barbecue.

Lemon Sherbet
2 cups strained lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1 cup light cream (half n’ half)
1 cup milk (low fat is fine)

In a small sauce pan, dissolve sugar in 1 cup of the lemon juice, only heating until sugar is dissolved. Combine all ingredients (don’t worry if the milk looks curdled when you combine it with the lemon juice) and pour into your ice cream maker. Freeze according to directions, about 30 minutes.
Store in an airtight container in the freezer.

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  • Amy
    March 9, 2006

    I love Anything Citrus. That sounds really refreshing and wonderful.

  • Mika
    March 9, 2006

    I love orange sherbet. I have to try this one since it is raining oranges in CA.

  • sarah
    March 10, 2006

    May I ask….do you recommend using bottled lemon juice (“reconstituted”) – or do you use fresh-squeezed lemons for this recipe? If bottled was the taste ok? (Just curious – I’m wondering if I’m up to squeezing all those lemons….)

  • Nic
    March 10, 2006

    Sarah – I do *not* recommend using bottled lemon juice. In my opinion, it tastes rather off and whole lemons are pretty cheap (I have a tree, so mine are free). I think I used about 7 or 8 lemons to get enough juice.

  • Ray
    March 11, 2006

    I learned a lot from this post!

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