Sunday, August 07, 2005

The ice cream project: berry buttermilk sherbet

No two people, it seems, have the exact same notion of what sherbet is. Turks seem to think it's a sugary drink, while to Brits it's a powdery candy. In North America, sherbet is a frozen dessert made with fruit, but people diverge on whether it should be made without dairy, with milk but not cream, or some other way. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates much of what Americans ingest, requires that any sherbet on the supermarket shelf have between 1 and 2% milkfat and have more sugar than ice cream. But the Italian sorbetto and the French sorbet are both translations of sherbet and both are typically made without milk or cream. They're what we would call ices, only now because we're all such foodie know-it-alls we call ices sorbet.

In my mind, a sherbet is a lighter version of ice cream and it's always made with fruit. Because I have no intention of selling my sherbet I don't have to deal with any federal agencies. I don't know what percent of this dish is milkfat and I really don't care.

So why berry buttermilk? The berries were from Chico's pantry purge. Before leaving town he bundled me up with two bags full of old condiments, odd grains, and frozen fruits. Figuring that his raspberries and strawberries had been in his freezer for at least a year, I determined to use them quickly. I always have buttermilk in the fridge for making pancakes, corn bread, or scones (buttermilk tenderizes wheat flour and reacts with baking soda to leaven), and when I saw a recipe in that fat yellow Gourmet cookbook for a buttermilk sherbet I had my eureka moment. Buttermilk has several virtues: it is thicker than milk, it has a slightly sour flavor, and because it is cultured it's easier to digest than milk. Those who avoid ice cream because of lactose intolerance might find that they can take a little buttermilk sherbet. (I didn't follow the Gourmet recipe--which is for lemon sherbet--very faithfully.)

I started by pureeing the defrosted fruit in the blender.

And then strained it into a mixture of buttermilk, sugar, and corn syrup. (Corn syrup is a texture ingredient: in a frozen dessert that isn't rich like ice cream, it helps to have something that thickens the mixture and makes it silky on the tongue.)

After chilling this for a few hours, I poured it into the machine

and after about half an hour it had frozen nicely. I resisted the urge to eat it all right then.

This got transferred to a container and stashed in the freezer. I went to bed.

After lunch today, I scooped myself a scoop in my cute stainless steel bowl, and voila.

It has a slightly harder texture than ice cream and a nice tartness. The buttermilk is a complement to the berries, which have a bit of a sour bite. It's sweet but not nearly as sugary as the stuff sold as sherbet in the supermarket or at Baskin-Robbins. It's not a showstopper like ice cream, but sherbet is cold, fruity, and refreshing. Don't you want some?

Next time on the ice cream project: mocha.

My other ice creams:

  • Egg ice cream

  • Black sesame ice cream

  • Green chile mint ice cream

  • Rice ice cream

  • Cardamom ice cream

  • Sour cream anise ice cream

  • Caramel ice cream

  • Apples and honey ice cream

  • Watermelon sour cream sherbet

  • Mojito cream cheese ice cream

  • Peach frozen yogurt

  • Oatmeal raisin ice cream

  • Mango cream cheese ice cream

  • Mocha ice cream

  • Gingersnap ice cream

    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I ran across your blog (love it!) a few days ago trawling google for a way to use up extra buttermil. Today I made raspberry buttermilk sherbet but not with corn syrup due to this Passover business, and I loved the buttermilk-berry combo but it was way too sweet. Not quite as pretty as yours, either, but I am way too low-maintenance to strain for seeds.

    7:18 PM  
    Blogger mzn said...

    Hey thanks, Melissa. One of my favorite things about making ice cream is that you can add tart ingredients. Most of the stuff in the supermarket is just sweet.

    7:37 PM  

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