I realize that in a week where the most public spaces part sludge, part abyss, you might not have frozen desserts on your mind, but I cannot hide what we are: year-round ice cream people. Maybe it’s just the peculiarity of a steam-heated apartment, keeping it a balmy 78 degrees in here all winter, but snow on the ground has never kept us from cold treats, especially lemon sorbet, which tastes the way beams of sunlight feel on your skin.

lemon sorbet-02lemon sorbet-03lemon sorbet-04lemon sorbet-05lemon sorbet-06lemon sorbet-08lemon sorbet-09

Ever since I made the impulsiest impulse purchase* in the early lockdown days of a fancy ice cream maker, we’ve been making it fairly regularly, tweaking the recipe from David Lebovitz’s perfect Perfect Scoop [Amazon, Bookshop, More] until it’s exactly as full-bodied and robustly tart-sweet as we like it. What sets it apart from other recipes is infusing the simple syrup with zest, giving it a bigger flavor. I strain both the zest and the lemon juice pulp out, ensuring that there are no papery flecks in the final sorbet. I have shoved bowls of this into several friend’s hands over the last couple weeks and I love seeing the surprise on faces from just how explosive the flavor is. Think of it like wintery lemonade.

lemon sorbet-10

* Let me make it abundantly clear that a fancy ice cream maker sits squarely on the want side of the need-want continuum. We love ours but hardly think it’s a Top 10 kitchen item. Ice cream makers fall into two categories, well, three if you consider those old-school hand-cranked salt-chilled things, but I’m going to focus on the electric machines here. The first have bowls that you have to freeze for 1 to 2 days before using. The ice cream still needs to finish freezing in the freeze after it has churned. You can use them once and then they have to chill again for a couple days before you make another batch. I had a standalone one from Cuisinart at one point, and later the Kitchen Aid attachment. They work fine but the fancier (also bigger and much heavier) kind I impulse-bought comes with a compressor, so it fully freezes into ice cream in the machine in 30 to 45 minutes and also requires no advance planning to use, or use again. [Amazon, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Williams-Sonoma, More]


6 months ago: Deviled Eggs
1 year ago: Plush Confetti Cupcakes
2 years ago: Roasted Squash with Ginger and Tofu
3 years ago: Baked Buffalo Wings
4 years ago: Banana-Oat Weeknday Pancakes
5 years ago: An Easier Way To Make Cookies
6 years ago: Leek, Ham, Cheese and Egg Bake and Spaghetti Pie with Pecorino and Black Pepper
7 years ago: Fried Egg Salad and Caramelized Onion and Gruyere Biscuits
8 years ago: Homemade Dulce de Leche and Cheese Blintz
9 years ago: Intensely Chocolate Sables and Pasta with White Beans and Garlic-Rosemary Oil
10 years ago: Potato Chip Cookies
11 years ago: Chocolate Peanut Spread (Peanutella)
12 years ago: Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions and Ricotta Muffins
13 years ago: Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake and Chicken Milanese + An Escarole Salad
14 years ago: Leek and Swiss Chard Tart and Key Lime Cheesecake
15 years ago: Icebox Cake

Lemon Sorbet

David Lebovitz’s original recipe calls for 1 cup granulated sugar and up to 1 1/4, if you like it sweeter. I use less but make sure you taste it before churning to make sure it’s not too tart for you. Freezing mutes flavors so you’ll want it to taste slightly sweeter than you’d like the final sorbet to taste. If you need advice on making ice cream without a machine, David also has you covered.
  • 2 1/2 cups (590 grams) cold water, divided
  • 14 tablespoons (175 grams) granulated sugar
  • Finely grated zest and juice from about 6 lemons
In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the water, all of the sugar, and the finely grated zest of your lemons. Heat, stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved, usually right before it begins to simmer. Add remaining 2 cups cold water and chill this mixture completely. [I hasten this along by planting the pot unceremoniously in this snow on our terrace. It’s pretty quick!]

Set a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl (or a 4-cup measuring cup) and juice the lemons over it until you have 1 cup pulp-free juice. Chill this, too, until the syrup is cold. Pour the chilled syrup through the strainer, removing the zest while adding it to the lemon juice.

Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.