For this next installment of the Ice Cream Social series, I decided to make a refreshing sorbet. Yes, I know - sorbet isn't ice cream. For starters, it doesn't contain cream, so already it's short 50% of the equation. But that doesn't mean it's only half as good as its dairy-based counterpart; in fact, sorbet's lack of saturated fats from milk or cream makes it a healthy dessert alternative, provided you watch the sugar content. Then, there's the simple fact that it's been around a lot longer than ice cream . . .
Although its exact origins are uncertain, sorbet can be traced to the ancient civilizations of the Near East and Mediterranean Basin, where people added ice* and even snow to wine or sweetened fruit juices, thereby producing what may have been the world's first slushies. However, credit for the earliest technology for making sorbet-like concoctions is given to the Chinese, who used snow and saltpetre to chill containers of syrup (Toussaint-Samat, 749). No one seems to know when this innovation was developed - estimates range from as far back as 3000 BC to the first century AD - but the real question is how the Chinese figured that saltpetre was just as good for making gunpowder as it was for making frosty refreshers!
*A cuneiform script dating to 1700 BC describes an icehouse in the ancient city of Terqa, in what is now Syria (Buccellati, 12).
'Şerbet - Şurup Günleri' (Sherbet-Syrup Days)
photo from Armada Hotel, Istanbul
The long and widespread history of frozen desserts is evident even through their names. For instance, sorbet, sorbetto and sherbet are, respectively, the French, Italian and English terms for iced concoctions typically made of water, sugar and fruit purees, and are derived from the Turkish Şerbet, a traditional, sweetened fruit beverage. In turn, that term can be traced back to the Arabic word sarba, meaning 'drink'. So, despite the fact that sorbet only half-qualifies as ice cream, its global history as a sweet frozen treat has earned it a place in this line-up.
Besides, our Ice Cream Social is EEOCD (Equal Eating Opportunity of Chilled Desserts) - ice cream, sorbets, sherbets, gelatos, granitas, fro-yos, sno-cones, halo-halo, kulfi, ais kacang, nam kang sai . . . [deep breath]. If it freezes, then it pleases!
With that, Scott of ScottySnacks, Jennifer of Savor The Thyme and I invite you to join us in celebrating July as National Ice Cream Month by sending us recipes, photos, or videos of your favorite frozen indulgences for a chance to win some wonderful sur-prizes. We know we left you hanging by holding back on what exactly those rewards were but now we're ready to start dangling the first of several carrots!
(Image from Stonyfield.com)
What better prize for an ice cream contest than . . . ice cream! My co-hosts and I are pleased to announce that winners will receive coupons from Stonyfield Farm for their line of frozen yogurts and ice creams. For those of you who may not be familiar with this company, Stonyfield began as an organic farming school over two decades ago in rural New Hampshire, funding their operation by selling all-natural, organic yogurt using a recipe developed by founder Samuel Kaymen. Today, the company is the world's leading organic yogurt producer and has won numerous accolades for its mix of business acumen and social conscience, including being named one of the most ethical companies on the globe for the third consecutive year in 2009. Please visit their website to learn more about the company's products, history and practices.
Then, one lucky winner will receive a hand-printed t-shirt featuring a design created especially for our Ice Cream Social event! I'm so very proud to tell you about its creator: my younger sister Penelope, who has her own shop through Etsy, an amazing on-line marketplace of unique handmade crafts and gifts. Her 'eco-eclectic boutique', neenacreates, reflects her personal dedication to an eco-friendly lifestyle and offers clothing, accessories and artwork using organic and recycled materials for everything from baby onesies to one-of-a-kind illustrations. For our event, Penelope has created an ice cream-themed graphic that will be custom silk-screened onto an organic cotton t-shirt from Alternative Apparel, sized to the winner's request. To see more of Penelope's creations, please visit neenacreates, where she is offering 10% off any items to those who use the purchase code #icsocial on their order.
But that's not all, friends - we will be announcing other sur-prizes throughout the month so check back regularly to find out what else you can win for sharing your ice cream indulgences! In the meantime, head over to my co-hosts' sites to get the latest on their frozen treats:
ScottySnacks - Sugar Cookie & Ice Cream
Savor The Thyme - Ice Cream Social: Pineapple Sorbet with Agave Nectar and Surprises!
Now, what are you waiting for? Get your scoop on!
Many thanks to OysterCulture, who noted that the contest rules needed some clarification regarding WHAT qualifies as an entry and in what FORMAT they can be:
Entries may feature any kind of frozen dessert including ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt, gelatos and any international variations, such as halo-halo, kulfi or ais kacang.You also don't need to actually make a frozen dessert yourself! Please feel free to take a photo or video of a chilly treat that you've recently enjoyed and send it to us.
If you have any questions or are uncertain about what may qualify, please feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for clarification!
Buccellati, Giorgio. Terqa: An Introduction to the Site. Paper presented to the Symposium of Der ez-Zor, October 1983.
Toussaint-Samat, Maguelonne. History of Food. 1994
Foodtimeline.org - Italian ice, granita, sorbet & sherbet
As much as I love ice cream, it's an affection that I can't afford to indulge on a regular basis, whereas sorbet satisfies the craving for something cold and sweet, minus the extra calories. When I first got my ice cream maker, my mother-in-law shared with me a recipe for Orange-Basil Sorbet and it quickly became a favorite. For this post, I thought I'd change it up a bit although it's still the same flavor combination: citrus and herbs. For this sorbet, I used the recipe from my mother-in-law (which I also found on Cooking.com) and simply substituted the juice, type of basil and liqueur. Try different combinations yourself!
It would be a surprise if you don't find a little container of fresh calamansi on your table when dining in the Philippines. These little lime-like fruits are used to flavor so many foods - it's added to patis (fish sauce), squeezed over dishes such as lugaw (congee/arroz caldo) and pancit (noodles), or made into a cold drink. According to the Food Lover's Companion, it is also known as calamondin and thought to be a hybrid of either kumquat and mandarin orange, or lime and mandarin. Either way, it's delicious! I have yet to find the fresh fruit anywhere in Minneapolis or St. Paul but I was fortunate enough to find frozen concentrate - good enough!
Equipment: electric ice cream maker
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
2 cups calamansi juice
1 cup basil (I used 1/2 sweet and 1/2 Thai)*
zest of 1 lime (since I didn't have calamansi)
3 Tbsps dark rum (I used aged Tanduay, a Filipino rum)
*I left the leaves whole although next time, I think I will chiffonade them to release more of their flavor.
1. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, first bringing it to boil then reducing to a gentle simmer. Cook until sugar has fully dissolved; remove from heat and allow syrup to cool completely;
2. When syrup has cooled, mix it and remaining ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight;
3. When ready to make, strain out all basil leaves and zest;
4. Prepare according to manufacturer's instructions, although I suggest that you start the machine first before pouring the mixture into the bowl;
5. Mix for 25-30 minutes, then transfer to a plastic container with a tight-fitting cover;
6. Freeze at least 2 hours before serving.
Note about photos: the slices of citrus shown dressing the sorbet are key limes, not calamansi!