Ice cream around the world (and at home)

Raspberry Lemon Sorbet

Raspberry Lemon Sorbet

Written in September 2012

“I love raspberries,” my friend declared and stared at me, unleashing a magical wand in the form of a single finger. “You must make me a raspberry sorbet!”

Maybe those weren’t the exact words he said or the expression he wielded. Maybe the words he said was “my favorite fruit are raspberries and it would be awesome to have something with raspberries!” I do remember saying that making such a sorbet went against the principle of my 31 flavors: I intended to make only flavors with a twist. No vanilla, chocolate or strawberry!

But, then why not?

Yet, I love fruit. I love lemons. I love sorbets. And I loved the bright, juicy color of raspberries. At first, I resisted…sort of…and the rules I set…wavered.

Raspberry clamshells are expensive!

Whatever changed my mind, a few weeks later as we drove to Marin, he showed me a page from his well-loved Italian cookbook (instead of a love story to Vancouver intended to help me on my first ice cream stop). He declared, “This is it!”

I was convinced too since the custard-based ice cream had been overwhelming me lately. I almost barely ate my ice cream anymore.

Staring at the page, I memorized the ingredients:

  • 2 lemons (easy, I’ll get it from my parents’ porch)
  • caster sugar (British colloquial for powdered sugar or slightly ground granulated sugar, I later learned)
  • 2 lbs of raspberries
  • TWO POUNDS. Of an expensive product. I remember thinking that normal ice cream shops couldn’t do this—this recipe did not embody the word “cost-effective” for fresh produce.

    Initially, I thought: easy, I’ll head to the farmer’s market and drop my bills at the first sight of organic berries. Due to an inability to schedule, I missed that week’s opportunities to visit the farmers’ market. So on a Sunday afternoon, I desperately hunted through the city for viable raspberries.
    Finally, at a market out in the Sunset neighborhood, I purchased their entire stock—carefully stacking them into my green grocery basket and sheepishly grinning at the register. All 6 clamshells—amounted to nearly $20 worth of fruit. Uncharacteristic of me, I threw in a stick of candy to soothe and reward myself.

    Blending whole lemons

    The resulting sorbet was a luscious burst of flavor. The meyer lemons came from a tree in the front yard of my parents’ house. Unlike typical lemons, their FAT inside bursts with juice. Sometimes almost sweet like an orange. Each spoonful was rich with a tinge of lemon, so I cannot call this one purely raspberry, but raspberry lemon.

    Scientifically speaking, the lemon contains natural pectin allowing the ice crystals to bind together so the result scoop is smooth.

    I later served it at a dinner party (almost 2 weeks after I initially made it) and before I knew it, there was nothing left. If I had been given a whole basket of raspberries, most certainly, the same thing would have occurred.

    Blending all the raspberries and lemons


    Adapted from River Cafe Italian Kitchen by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers


    6 clamshells or 2 lbs of fresh raspberries (each box is 6 oz)
    2 whole large (preferably unwaxed since you’ll be using the skin) lemons, washed
    1 1/2 cup of powdered sugar


    Cut one whole lemon into small 1/2 inch pieces, removing any seeds. This includes the skin and all the crazy parts of a lemon.

    In a blender or food processor, blend powdered sugar and lemon pieces until a thick puree forms. Small bits of the lemon skin (like fresh zest) will be visible. Add the raspberries in small batches so that the mixture is blended uniformly. Reserve about half of a clamshell (or 3 oz of raspberries) to use as toppings.

    Juice the second lemon. Add half of the fresh juice if a less sour taste is desired. I added the entire lemon, because we both loved the sour taste.

    It is possible to churn immediately (mixture will be room temperature if the ingredients are at room temperature), but for better results, chill for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions.

    Serve with raspberries on top.