Twice as Tasty

Rhubarb-Rosemary Sorbet

A heavy-duty immersion blender handles the blending work, and an ounce of alcohol in the mix makes the ice crystals smaller and easier to smooth out

By Julie Laing
Rhubarb-Rosemary Sorbet. Photo by Julie Laing

I first tasted a rhubarb sorbet infused with fresh rosemary at the Whitefish Farmers Market more than a decade ago. Sweet Peaks Ice Cream had recently set up shop in town and pulled a trailer down the street for market day. My first thought was, “The flavor is so amazing!” My second thought was, “Rhubarb and rosemary grow all summer in my garden. I need to make this.” That began my exploration into homemade sorbets.

Previously, frozen desserts like sorbet and ice cream seemed like too much work. Growing up, my dad had an ancient electric ice cream maker that sat in a wooden bucket, surrounded by ice and rock salt, and seemed to make more noise and mess than ice cream. Modern ice cream makers can be quieter and more efficient, but they take up more space than I’m willing to dedicate in my tiny kitchen.

That’s one reason I got excited about sorbets: I don’t need a special machine. A heavy-duty immersion blender handles the blending work, and an ounce of alcohol in the mix makes the ice crystals smaller and easier to smooth out. It works out to about 3/4 teaspoon of alcohol per serving, so you won’t get tipsy on it. For an alcohol-free version, swap in corn syrup to get a similar effect. Stirring the mixture occasionally as it freezes also helps to break up ice chunks, and a final whiz with the blender gives the silkiest texture.

I recommend cooking fruit that’s hard to puree, like rhubarb and cherries. You can skip the cooking step for berries, peaches and melons: simply blend all of the ingredients, including an herb like basil, mint or lavender, and freeze.

Rhubarb–Rosemary Sorbet

Makes 1 quart

1 pound rhubarb, sliced (about 4 cups)

1 cup water

3/4 cup honey

2 teaspoons fresh minced rosemary

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons vodka or gin

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the rhubarb, water, honey and rosemary. Bring to a simmer and cook for five to 10 minutes, until the rhubarb is soft and honey is dissolved. Add water as needed to keep the rhubarb from sticking to the pan.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the lemon juice, alcohol and salt. Puree the mixture until smooth using an immersion blender; alternatively, transfer it to a food processor or upright blender to puree. Pour the mixture into a 9- by 13-inch baking pan, and let cool to room temperature.

Cover the pan with a plastic lid or wrap and freeze for four to six hours. Occasionally remove the mixture, quickly stir it with a fork until it forms pebble-sized chunks and then return it to the freezer. When the sorbet is nearly frozen hard, puree again to smooth it out. Refreeze the sorbet for at least 1 hour before serving; transfer to a freezer-proof container for longer storage. Makes about 1 quart.

Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.

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