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Buttermilk Sorbet

The only reason that this is called “sorbet” and not “ice cream” is the fact that there is no cream in it. Don’t let the name fool you, though, because it is still as cold and satisfying as ice cream, while having the unique flavor profile of buttermilk.
When I first saw the recipe in this month’s issue of Cooking Light, I knew that I had to make it. Not only did the original recipe have but three ingredients, but buttermilk is one of my favorite flavors. Interestingly enough, I never really cared for buttermilk growing up. I didn’t much like yogurt either, so I think that the slight tanginess I now love put me off somewhat. It’s a good thing I changed my mind. It imparts a rich, full flavor to baked goods, so I always keep it on hand.

In the recipe, both sugar and corn syrup are called for. Sugar is included to make the mixture sweet and creamy, while the corn syrup is included to make sure it stays that way, as it does not crystallize like sugar does. I reduced the corn syrup to two tablespoons from four primarily because I only had two tablespoonfuls left in the bottle. Light corn syrup is not as sweet as sugar (contrary to popular belief), so this change did not have a big impact on the sweetness of the sorbet.

The sorbet itself is smooth and slightly tangy. It is not as rich and creamy as ice cream, but it isn’t icy at all. It is light and melts quickly on the tongue. I added vanilla extract to my buttermilk mixture before putting it into the ice cream maker, which added another layer of flavor that I highly recommend.

Buttermilk Sorbet
(adapted from Cooking Light)
2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together sugar, corn syrup and 1/2 cup buttermilk until sugar is dissolved. Stir in remaining buttermilk and vanilla. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze as directed (this took 15/20 minutes in mine). Place in freezer for 1 hour, until slightly firm, before serving.
Store in freezer in an airtight container.
Serves 4.

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  • Kate
    June 10, 2006

    Yum!! I just made buttermilk chess pie last night…mmmmmm.

    Always appreciative of ice cream that doesn’t require an ice cream maker!

  • Lei
    June 10, 2006

    This sounds really interesting–and luckily I just happen to have a few cups of buttermilk in my fridge left over from another blog recipe I tried earlier in the week!

  • Nic
    June 10, 2006

    Kate – This ice cream does require an ice cream maker. I really recommend buying one (there are some really inexpensive ones available) if you make ice cream with any regularity at all. The difference is amazing!

  • Alanna
    June 10, 2006

    This one struck me, too!

  • Ana
    June 10, 2006

    I also like buttermilk flavor (love yogurt too, though!) and wanted to try this recipe when I saw the picture!
    The only thing I didn’t like about it was the corn syrup… not a big fan of it (flavor, texture), and I don’t even have it at home.
    Do you think I could make it without the corn syrup? Or maybe honey would work here? (decreasing some of the sugar maybe).

  • Nic
    June 10, 2006

    Ana- Honey is not a good substitute for corn syrup. You could try brown rice syrup instead if you really don’t want to use the corn syrup, or simply look for a brand that doesn’t contain any “high fructose corn syrup” in the ingredients list (like a dark corn syrup), since HFCS and CS are not the same thing.

  • Eggy
    June 10, 2006

    I’ve been meaning to make buttermilk sorbet for a while now. But like you, I was never really big on buttermilk until recently so I wasn’t sure what it would turn out like. I think you’ve just convinced me.

  • gagatka
    June 11, 2006

    for me the word “sorbet” is putting-off (why eat iced water if there is ice cream?)but this buttermilk saved the dish:)

  • keiko
    June 11, 2006

    Nic, this sounds lovely! I’ve been wanting to try the buttermilk & meyer lemon ice-cream from Recchiuti’s book, have you tried it yet?

    And I totally agree with you, an ice-cream machine is a must 🙂

  • Cathy
    June 12, 2006

    Yum – this sounds great and so easy – a definite must-try. I made something similar, but lemon-flavored a while back… wonder where I put that recipe?

  • kotas
    October 6, 2006

    From what I understand about ice cream, in this recipe the role of the corn syrup has very little to do with making the ice cream sweet. It is most likely added to keep large crystals from forming so that the “ice cream” stays creamy.

  • Katie
    March 16, 2008

    I just made this and wow, what a smooth and wonderfully refreshing recipe! Just enough sugar to mellow the tang of the buttermilk, and the corn syrup really does make for a velvety texture. Really, this is about as healthy as ice cream gets–I don’t think you can find a lower fat recipe that yields the same level of creaminess). I make ice cream several times a week and this recipe is going to be a staple–I’ll have to make sure I keep buttermilk as a regular on my grocery list. I served this with a marionberry coulis drizzled on top…deeelicious. This summer, I plan to serve it with poached/barbequed fruit (can’t wait till the farmers are selling boxes of peaches along the roadside)–what a perfect summer evening treat it will be!

  • Katie
    March 16, 2008

    P.S. For those who inquired about ice cream makers, I have a 1-quart Donvier maker that I adore–I’ve had it for over 10 years and wouldn’t trade it for an electric variety (silent, ice cream within 20 minutes or less, only have to turn every few minutes, super easy to clean, no worries about it ever dying on you…guests always want to buy their own after coming to our home and seeing how quick and easy they are to use). You can purchase them quite cheap on e-bay.

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