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Based on the italian lemon sorbetto recipe from Elsa Petersen-Schepelern's book, "Gelato, Sorbets and Ice Creams," this sorbet recipe will appeal to mere mortals and not just lemon fanatics. The addition of limoncello make this a sorbet to remember.


1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon zest (about 2 - 3 lemons)
2 cups Meyer lemon juice (juice of about 7 - 8 lemons, some you zested)
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup limoncello (vodka is ok to substitute)

Wash and dry lemons. Using a microplane grater, remove the zest from two to three lemons until you have about 2 tablespoons of lemon zest. Place water, zest and sugar into small saucepan and bring to a boil. Let boil for one minute and then remove from heat.

Juice the lemons until you have 2 cups of juice. Pour juice through a chinois or sieve to remove seeds and pulp. Add 1/3 cup of limoncello to the juice and place in an ice bath to chill. Pour cooled zest and sugar mixture through chinois or sieve into ice bath with juice. Stir to mix and chill mixture in ice bath until less than 45° F. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to your maker's instructions.

Once chilled, remove from ice cream maker and place in dedicated (odor-free) container to let ripen in the freezer for several hours. Because of the alcohol, it will always be a tiny bit soft.

Click any image below to enlarge
  1. Comment from Carolyn T 
    8:34 AM   16-Apr-2007
    I adore Meyer lemons. We have a tree, so are kept in lemons most of the year. I freeze the juice in small containers when the tree is overflowing. That way I can make my favorite lemon ice cream whenever the urge strikes me. I adapted it from a recipe attributed to the Velvet Turtle (an upscale restaurant chain here in Southern California, that is not defunct). I've adapted it some, and you can as well. Lemon Velvet 1 3/4 cups sugar lemon zest from 2-3 lemons 1 cup fresh lemon juice (Meyer) 2 cups heavy cream 2 cups fat free half-and-half (Trader Joe's or Land o'Lakes) 1 dash salt

    Combine the ingredients and prepare in your ice cream machine. Freeze further after preparing so it will firm up a bit more.

    I like your idea of adding the Lemoncello - I may try that the next time, and if it helps keep the ice cream softer in the freezer, that would be a VERY good thing. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
    1. Response from Brian
      9:34 AM   16-Apr-2007
      Hi Carolyn, thanks for sharing your recipe, been meaning to respond to your earlier email. The lemon velvet sounds interesting. I remember the velvet turtle--I always wanted to go there as a kid, but pricey place for kids then. I'm tempted to alter your recipe to use some combination of milk/cream/half and half to approximate the fat free half and half. What is the texture of it like? We have a trader Joes near us, so I'll check it out. I just worry some folks may not be able to get fat free half/half.
  1. Comment from Carolyn T 
    10:07 AM   16-Apr-2007
    Sorry, I didn't remember that I'd already sent you this recipe. (Note to self: keep records of when I comment and to what blogger!) Re: fat-free half and half. The reasoning behind this was that I wanted to make more like a gelato, which uses more milk than cream (if any cream at all). My machine (Cuisinart) makes a more icy kind of sherbet or sorbet if I use only milk, so I tinkered with the quantities. I'd also read that commercial ice cream contains something (an additive) that keeps the frozen product less frozen (smoother, and more easily scooped) and I was trying to get that texture. I'd heard that some FFH&H contain this (is it guar gum?). Trader Joe's doesn't happen to. But somehow, adding cream, and thinning it with the FFH&H gives it a much richer consistency and more easily scooped. But then, I also use Trader Joe's heavy cream, which is far-and-away better than anybody's, in my opinion. Most places, I've heard, do carry the Land O'Lakes FFH&H nowdays, even outside of California. You could certainly tinker with the types of milk - that's what I did to get this recipe the way I like it. And, I promise, I won't send you the recipe again!
  1. Comment from Clayton 
    12:30 PM   19-Feb-2008
    Was just given a cuisinart ice cream maker as a gift, and this was the first recipe I tried. Meyer lemons seem to be extremely "hot" at the moment. The only change I made was to add about 2 Tbs finely minced zest to the mixture. It came out great - what an incredibly concentrated flavor. Many thanks for the recipe!
    1. Response from Brian
      8:09 PM   09-Jul-2008
      Wow, you opted for even more lemon flavor! This is the super strong version of lemon sorbet on the site. I love meyer lemons and feel pretty fortunate to have regular access to them (for free, even!)
  1. Comment from Marie 
    12:00 PM   26-Aug-2008
    I worked in an ice-cream factory and the thing they used to make "soft scoop" was glucose syrup....
    1. Response from Brian
      8:00 AM   27-Aug-2008
      Well, if it was a factory, I'm sure thats not all they used ;-). I've never heard of glucose used that way in ice cream. I know glucose resists crystallization more than cane sugars but wouldn't have thought it would do much for preventing ice crystals. I've typically steared clear of glucose, which is also used heavily in many caramels and truffles, since it is an ingredient not readily available at most grocery stores and I want these recipes to be attainable by the average home cook (like me). Good to know for those folks with personal/religious aversions to alcohol.
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