Sorbetto is a sibling of ice cream and granita, and when prepared as described in this recipe it is a truly Made in Italy tradition.
It’s a cold dessert made by freezing a mixture of sugar and fruit juice or pulp; it’s different from ice cream, because it does not contain any dairy products, and it is different from granita, because the ice crystals are considerably smaller. Not completely frozen, it has a semi-thick consistency and is usually consumed with a spoon.
Sorbetto was very fashionable during the ’80s and the ’90s, typically served halfway through wedding meals to prepare the stomach for the (many) remaining courses. Nowadays, it is usually proposed as a dessert – it’s an excellent digestive and perfect for cooling off during hot summer afternoons.
There’s no need for an ice cream maker – with this recipe, you only need a blender and your freezer!
Serves: 4 | Preparation time: 10 mins | Cooking time: 5 mins + 3 h to freeze
- Water: 400 ml
- Caster or cane sugar: 100 g
- Lemon juice: about 4 lemons
- Lemon peel: about 1 lemon
- Lemon zest: about 1 lemon
Peel one lemon and grate the skin of another one, and set both aside. Then press all the lemons and filter the juice with a colander.
Bring the water to boil in a small saucepan, then pour in the sugar and the lemon peel. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken and becomes sticky.
Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool completely at room temperature. To speed up the process, you can pour it in a cold bowl.
Once the syrup has cooled, add the lemon juice and the zest that you set aside, and mix well.
Put the bowl in the freezer for at least 3 hours. Make sure to stir the mixture with a spoon about every half hour, for a total of at least 4 to 5 times.
A key characteristic of lemon sorbet is that it is less stiff than ice cream and a bit thicker than granita. To achieve this texture, put your sorbet in the blender and mix for about 1 minute. Once the sorbet has softened, it’s ready to be served.
Tip: You can use some fresh aromatic herbs to decorate your sorbetto: try some lemon balm, lemon thyme or mint leaves.