How to Make Rich, Tart Lemon Sorbet


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[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

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A switch has flipped in me—now all I want to do is eat spring vegetables and drink lemonade. Of course, in the Serious Eats office, ricotta is considered a vegetable and most of our fruit comes in macaron form. So I've resigned myself to pigging out at the office and eating dinners of repentance at home.

As often as not, that dinner has been lemon sorbet, because it's tart and light and delicious and I'm lazy and hey, stop looking at me like that. Even if you don't approve, my deviant behavior is your gain, because this lemon sorbet is pretty sweet.

Actually, it's not. Sweet, that is. There's enough sugar to keep the lemon's tartness in check, but the flavor is definitely on the light, refreshing, Italian ice side of the spectrum. The texture, though, is a lot like a plush French sorbet: luscious, smooth, and crystal-free. Usually when making sorbet you have to choose between bright tartness or super-smooth rich texture, but with this recipe you don't have to.

How? Well, you may not be happy with the answer. But here goes: corn syrup. A lot of it.

One of the reasons you find corn syrup in so many processed sweets is because it's so good at keeping things smooth and creamy. This is especially true for water-based sorbets that are low in natural fruit pectins, like lemon, lime, and grapefruit. Corn syrup makes these sorbets much smoother and less prone to forming ice crystals. It also makes them more stable, so they'll be at their freshest and best for longer. I really can't recommend it enough.

If you've been frustrated in your search for a fresh-tasting sorbet that doesn't ice up, this should be your go-to. It is for me. And it makes a decent dinner, too.