We knew we wanted to make a lemon sorbet with the few Mayer lemons that we had left in the fruit drawer. But we also knew that we wanted it to be just a bit more than lemon-flavored, so we discussed possibilities: rosemary lemon or lemon basil, were a couple of the possibilities. We finally settled on Lavender Lemon as our flavor combination.
When we stopped at the Food Co-op to pick up culinary lavender, we almost didn’t buy any. It was listed at over $40 a pound, and, even though we knew we’d only need a little bit, we thought that it would cost a lot. We forged ahead, picking out a small bag and placing two heaping spoonfuls into it. Wow, it sure felt light. We headed to the checkout, and it sure was light. Turns out that it ran us a whole 46¢, with the amount of lavender being about twice to three times what we actually needed.
So, now that we know that the lavender buds aren’t going to break the bank, let’s get scratchin’.
Makes 3 cups
You don’t have to use Meyer lemons here; other lemons will work, too, although the resulting sorbet may have more pucker-power. Since you’re using the zest — and you’ll want to, with all its lemon flavor — wash the lemons very thoroughly before use. Most commercial lemons have a wax applied to seal in the moisture. That wax will also seal in things you don’t want to ingest. The lavender we picked up was organically grown, and, since you use so little, we suggest you try to get organic, too. After all, it was less than 50¢.
Procedure in detail:
We’ll show the pictures for our ice cream maker (Kitchen Aid); you might have to modify these instructions if you have a different brand.
Zest lemons. Place the sugar in a small saucepan, and zest the lemons, placing the zest in with the sugar. We use a microplane grater, which does a fantastic job of zesting, but we’ve used ordinary graters in the past, and even a chef’s knife. If you use a microplane, be aware that these things are super-sharp and they can zest your fingers in a trice (we learned the hard way). Once the lemons are zested, rub the zest and sugar together to release all those wonderful oils in the lemon zest.
Make syrup. Add the water, place the saucepan over high heat, and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat.
Add lavender. Stir the lavender buds into the simple syrup. Our photo shows us using a scant tablespoon of lavender, which turned out to be too much, which is why we suggest using just a teaspoon. Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.
Juice lemons. Our Meyer lemons were huge, so we had no trouble getting a cup of juice from just three. With ordinary lemons, you might need four or five to get enough juice. We do not recommend using concentrated lemon juice as a substitute. Strain the juice to remove the pulp and seeds, then refrigerate until needed.
Make sorbet mix. Strain the simple syrup into the lemon juice; it should be about a cup of simple syrup to a cup of lemon juice. Discard the zest and lavender buds.
Freeze and churn. Assemble your ice cream freezer and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. Ours suggests 8 to 12 minutes of churning.
Pack and freeze. Once churned, either serve immediately, or pack into an airtight container and freeze.
Wow! This is some super-lemony sorbet, with a really bright fresh flavor. As we remarked in the instructions above, we made ours with a scant tablespoon of lavender, which resulted in a strong lavender flavor, rather than a subtle lavender undertone, so we changed the recipe to use just a teaspoon, instead. But this will be your sorbet, so feel free to up the amount if you want. If only we knew how easy it is to make great frozen desserts, we would have bought an ice cream freezer years ago. Overall, four stars.