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Meyer Lemon Sorbet with Limoncello

Meyer Lemon Sorbet.

I first made this sorbet last week, following the recipe for italian lemon sorbetto in Elsa Petersen-Schepelern’s book, “Gelato, Sorbets and Ice Creams.” To this recipe I added 1/4 cup of limoncello and substituted Meyer lemons to yield a sorbet that simply screamed, “MEYER LEMON!!” Although delicious, the first bite left you with puckered lips. After a few more spoonfuls I got over the initial shock, but would anyone but a citrus fiend be able to handle it?

The taste test
I feared tasters would respond like my daughter, who doesn’t like to admit when she doesn’t like something others do. Sure enough:

“Mmmm, I like it,” she says after tasting it, rubbing her tummy.

I then ask, “Do you want another bite?”

“No,” she replies, shaking her head. With only 1/2 cup of water to dilute the 2 cups of lemon juice, it was no wonder why. I can’t help but wonder how sour the recipe would have been with eureka or other common store-bought lemon varieties. I wanted to make this recipe again with some changes, but I needed more lemons.

Meyer Lemons.Musical chairs with Meyer lemons
Every Tuesday my son and I go to his violin and my viola lesson. We typically arrive a few minutes early and sit outside next to a fabulous Meyer lemon tree while another student (the oldest of whom is half my age) finishes their lesson. This week, in addition to the usual black viola case, I brought a small cooler with a sample of this sorbet for my teacher. Like last week, once our lessons were over, we filled a plastic bag with more than a dozen lemons we picked from the tree. This is the same tree that produces the lemons in the limoncello I used for the sorbet. My teacher makes several gallons of limoncello every year and I have finally found a recipe that could exhaust my supply of limoncello.

The new and improved sorbetThe new and improved sorbet
Loaded up with more lemons, I decided I would make another batch of sorbet with some variations aimed at winning over less fanatic lemon lovers. A quick scan of other lemon sorbets in my library and online shows that 2 cups of juice to 1/2 cup of water is on the extreme side. I doubled the water to 1 cup and increased the sugar by 1/4 cup. Since I didn’t want to lose the subtle limoncello flavor, I increase the liqueur from 1/4 to 1/3 cup. Thanks to the alcohol, this sorbet does a great job resisting our frost-free freezer’s attempts to turn it into a block of ice. Even after a week, last week’s batch is still easy to scoop. This new batch of sorbet was slightly less yellow than last week’s batch, but the soft, smooth consistency is the same. The first spoonful doesn’t catch you off guard and you simply want more.

The bottom line
This lemon sorbet recipe is a winner. My daughter even asked for a bowl for dessert. This lemon sorbet tastes great alone but also pairs well with blueberries or strawberries—ever had fresh strawberry lemonade? Delicious! For this week’s presentation, I have been experimenting with the natural, diffuse lighting that comes into my kitchen in the mornings, especially since my light tent seems to suck at capturing subtle yellow hues (also: my hands aren’t really as red as they appear in some pictures!). I liked this picture so much I super-sized it.

Ingredients for making Meyer Lemon Sorbet.

Heat lemon zest, sugar and water over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute and then cool.

A citrus juicer is very handy when you need 2 cups of lemon juice.

Add limoncello to sorbet base and stir. Chill mixture in ice bath before freezing.

Pour sorbet base into ice cream maker and freeze. It will take longer to freeze than typical ice cream.

Sorbet will be a little softer than typical ice creams at this point.

The recipe pictured above, with detailed instructions and complete photo gallery, can be found on the Meyer Lemon Sorbet recipe page.

  • Lemon sorbet. How clean sounding, light and delicious. This would be perfect to bring some sun to the cloudy days we have been having here lately.

  • The addition of strawberries sounds great!
    And I agree- adding alcohol to ice cream/frozen yogurt/sorbet, is definitely a good idea.

  • steve34

    Wow, just came across your post on topgrubs and I had to come over and drop a line. Buddy, your step by step pics rule, love the quality and the instructions are not too fussy. I will be back

  • Cheryl: Yes, this sorbet is a taste of summer in every spoonful.

    Brilynn: I hadn’t been a fan of alcohol in ice creams until I made raspberry sorbet with grand marnier (recipe coming soon!) and this recipe. Having a nice sorbet turn rock hard in the freezer (probably doens’t happen with egg whites?) is a bummer.

    Steve: Thanks so much for the kind words. I think the step by step pics take the mystique out of things and encourages folks to try. Now if I can just make some of my expensive appliances seem down to earth! I know that many pre-freeze $50 ice cream makers deliver great results.

  • It is the first time I visit your blog and I am pleased I found it. I love the step by step picture. Just a quick question: what brand of ice cream maker do you use? Thanks for sharing those deeeeelicious recipes.

  • Looks wonderful and refreshing! Wish we had Meyer lemons here!

  • Rose: I recently bought a Musso 4080 Lussino Dessert Maker after my old Williams & Sonoma model from 10 years ago started to go on the blink. The Musso is solidly built and not cheap at about $550 USD, but I have heard great things about the Cuisinart Ice Supreme (about $250 USD) which also has built in refrigeration—a feature that is definitely a luxury. There are numerous pre-freeze canister models that are in the $50 USD range with good reviews, like the Cuisinart 2/12 quart model.

    Freya: It’s too bad about Meyer lemon availability. I hear they are more delicate and don’t ship as well as more common lisbon or eureka varieties.

  • Your recipe is very good. I love sorbet particularly when sun come

  • jef

    Brian, I have the ICE50 that you mentioned and it has been turning out some good ice creams. It has a removable work bowl which is a big help when it is time to clean up. This was an upgrade to the ICE20 that you mentioned.

    As for the sorbet, this looks to be a good recipe. I don’t have an easy supply of meyer lemons but I may just give it a try with our local varieties here in San Diego. I’ll have to get some more limoncello, I’m sure I can find a few more uses in the kitchen for it.

  • jef: Thanks for the testimonial on the cuisinart makers. You could use any lemon with this recipe, maybe tone down the lemon juice a touch and replace with equal part water. Some recipes go 1:1 with the lemon:water. My viola teacher, the one with the Meyer lemon tree, actually liked the more sour version I made more than the final one I went with, but I think her having a Meyer lemon tree may have a little to do with her tolerance for lemon flavoring.

    I checked out your blog and really enjoyed the posts on your experience with chocolate molds and other candies you are making. Very nice.