When Meyer lemons popped up at the market, I knew right away that I had to use them in sorbet. Sorbets are one of the easiest desserts to prepare and you don't even need an ice cream maker. This sorbet is the perfect end to a hearty winter dinner. It's delicate, flavorful, and extremely refreshing. I've topped my sorbet with some wonderfully sweet candied lemon peels.
Meyer lemons can only be found for a short period during the winter months at specialty food stores or well-stocked grocery stores. They have thin fragrant skins and are golden yellow in color. Meyer lemons are delightfully lemony with a hint of orange and delicate floral undertones.
Meyers are believed to be a cross between a lemon and Mandarin or sweet orange. I did a little research and learned that they were not introduced to the United States until 1908, when a USDA agricultural explorer, by the name of Frank Nicholas Meyer, brought them back from China. Their popularity grew and they soon became a commonly grown tree in California, until they were discovered to carry a virus deadly to other citrus trees. They were banned until many years later, when a new virus-free variety was developed. Meyers had a resurgence in the 1980s when Alice Waters began using them at her famed restaurant, Chez Panisse, in Berkeley, CA. But enough talk about lemons, here's the recipe:
MEYER LEMON SORBET
Adapted from Joy of Cooking, 2006 edition
1½ cups water
1¼ cups granulated sugar
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon, minced
½ cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice, pulp included
In a small sauce pot, combine the water, sugar, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat to dissolve the sugar, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly cold, or overnight. Process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to a well sealed container and freeze until ready to use. Garnish with candied lemon peels, if desired.
If you don't have an ice cream maker, pour the sorbet mixture into a metal 9x13 inch baking pan and place in the freezer. Stir the mixture with a fork every half hour until you reach the desired consistency, about 2 to 3 hours. This method will result in slightly larger ice crystals, and will not be as smooth in texture as when using an ice cream maker. However, the results are equally delicious.
Yield: About 2 1/3 cups
- As always, homemade sorbets are best eaten several hours after making. However, if you'll be freezing it overnight, let the sorbet stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
- If you can't find Meyer lemons, this recipe is still excellent with regular lemons as well. You can always order Meyer lemons directly from the farm through Snow's Citrus Court, in California.
CANDIED MEYER LEMON PEEL
Adapted from Dede Wilson, Bon Appetit, December, 2009
4 0r 5 large Meyer lemons
4 cups water
4 cups granulated sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
Line a baking sheet with waxed paper, place a drying rack on top and set aside. Fill a 4-quart saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, use the leftover juiced lemons from the above recipe and cut each halved lemon in half again (making 4 quartered lemon peels per lemon). Using a sharp paring knife, slide the knife along the peel, carefully removing as much pith as possible. Cut each quarter lengthwise into ¼-inch wide strips. Once the water is boiling, add the lemon strips, and boil for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain peels and rinse well.
Rinse out the saucepan, add the 4 cups water and 4 cups sugar and bring to a boil (this may seem like a lot of liquid, but it will reduce by half during cooking). Once boiling, add the drained lemon peels and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until lemon peels are very soft and slightly translucent, about 40 minutes.
Using a fork, carefully transfer the lemon peels a few at a time to the prepared drying rack. Separate strips, seeing that none are touching. Let the peels drain 15 minutes. Generously sprinkle each peel with sugar. Turn strips over and generously sprinkle the second side as well. Let dry uncovered on the rack overnight. Once dry, place peels in a well-sealed plastic container and store in the fridge. The peels keep well for a of couple weeks.
Yield: About 1 cup