Sparkling lemon sorbet is refreshing and refined. Traditionally served at the end of a meal, or as a palate cleanser, we think it also makes a stunning dessert. With just a handful of ingredients–lemon juice and zest, sugar, water, and the surprise ingredient, sparkling water–it’s a cinch to make.
Most bars and trattorias will have a large plastic machine constantly churning a slushy white lemon sorbetto mix to be sold in little champagne flutes with a straw at the end of a meal. It has a fizziness and freshness (like a sherbet), I wanted to replicate in my own kitchen. It is the most refreshing thing in the world, and I am convinced that the slight saltiness of a natural sparkling water enhances the zing. Serve in the hollowed-out lemon shells for added effect.–Letitia Clark
WHAT VARIATIONS CAN I MAKE TO SPARKLING LEMON SORBET?
We hear you. It’s the middle of the summer and your garden is flush with produce. And you’re wondering what to do with it all. Well, it’s possible to make a few adjustements to this gorgeous little recipe to change it up a touch. While you’re simmering the syrup, you can add a handful of fresh herbs like basil, mint, lemon verbena, or lemongrass. Once you’re done simmering though, remove them as they can get bitter after a time. As well, it’s just as easy to make this recipe with any other citrus fruit you have on hand—grapefruit would be especially good.
Sparkling Lemon Sorbet
- Ice cream maker
- 6 whole lemons
- Zest of 1 lemon preferably organic
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- Scant 1/2 cup water
- Scant 1 cup carbonated water (use a salty brand like San Pellegrino)
- If you wish to serve this inside the lemons, cut off 1⁄2 inch (1 cm) from the bottom of the fruits to create a flat surface for them to stand upright. Cut the top off (about 1 inch [2 cm] here to create a good hat) and reserve it as a lid. Scoop out all of the flesh as if preparing a Halloween pumpkin and press the flesh through a sieve to obtain the juice for your sorbetto. You'll need 1 cup of lemon juice for the recipe. Freeze the lemon shells before using them to serve the sorbet; they look much more effective slightly frosty and will keep the sorbetto colder longer.If not serving in the lemons, juice enough lemons to get 1 cup fresh lemon juice.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the lemon zest, sugar, and still water and bring to a boil. Simmer until syrupy, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain the syrup into a bowl and discard the zest. Stir in the lemon juice and the carbonated water.
- Chill the mixture until cold, at least 2 hours.
- Dump into an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions until thick and slushy, about 30 minutes.
- Serve immediately, in the hollowed-out lemons, if desired.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This recipe for sparkling lemon sorbet took me back to my childhood where on hot summer days on Revere Beach my mother would give me a nickel to go to the corner store and get a lemon slush. That was pure heaven for a child. And I've found that things haven't changed that much. The name is a little fancier and the presentation is a little fancier--hollowed out lemon vs. paper cone that caused the slush to drip all over you by the time you were halfway back to the beach, but the taste is wonderful, and a bit more sophisticated than that childhood treat.
This lemony treat is a crisp tasting, thirst-quenching bit of paradise served with a simple butter cookie. My freezer will be stocked with this easy-to-make treat all summer long.
This is a punchy lemon sorbet that gets some extra zing from the sparkling water. We made and served this in the middle of a heatwave, the perfect dessert for those hot nights. We did hollow out lemons to serve the sorbet which worked perfectly. I added some mint leaves for a garnish and to make ahead, I suggest freezing overnight and letting the sparkling lemon sorbet sit at room temp before scooping.
Originally published July 24, 2021