How to make a sherbet

Grapefruit Sherbet

Glossy oil sugar to make the sherbet
Oleo Saccharum

Sherbet is a somewhat confusing name. Depending on where you’re from, you’re likely either imagining a frozen desert or a sweet fizzy powder. However, we’re not talking about either of them. We’ll take you, step by step, through how to make a sherbet, which is a deliciously rich citrus syrup traditionally used to sweeten punch recipes.

You can make a sherbet with any citrus you like, lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, mandarins etc. However, the key difference between a sherbet and a simple citrus sugar syrup is the inclusion of oleo saccharum.

Oleo saccharum, which directly translates as ‘oil sugar’, is a powerful addition to the syrup, made by extracting essential oils from the peel of the fruit using sugar crystals. The oleo saccharum is then dissolved into the juice of the fruit to create a deliciously powerful citrus syrup.

Once you get to grips with the basics of making a sherbet, you can get creative. Try adding herbs to the mix when you make your oleo saccharum. Muddling in a little rosemary or sage will boost your sherbet, and add a whole new dimension, so get experimenting!

This should take about… 3 minutes.

How to make a sherbet

  1. Wash

    To begin, wash the fruit thoroughly. 

  2. Dry

    Then ensure the fruit is dried.

  3. Measure & add sugar to pan

    Measure out the sugar and add to a bowl or container. For ease, you can do the whole process in a pan rather than transferring between multiple containers.

    You only add some of the sugar at this point. Enough to make the oleo saccharum, but because you don’t know exactly how much juice the fruit will yield, you need to hold some back so that you can adjust to get to the perfect ratio of 2:1, sugar (x2) to juice (x1).

  4. Add citrus peel

    2 options here. Use either a microplane or fine grater to add fine citrus zest to the sugar. Another option is to use a peeler to remove the peel in long strips, carefully remove all the pith (the white part), as this will create a bitter and unpleasant sherbet, then add to the sugar.

  5. Muddle

    Muddle the peel and sugar together then cover and leave to rest for 2 hours (or over night if convenient), and let the sugar crystals do their magic. The oils will be pulled out of the peel by the sugar crystals, creating oily sticky sugar.

  6. Juice

    Cut and squeeze the peeled fruit to extract the juice, and carefully measure the amount of juice you extract. Now that you know exactly how much juice you have, you also know exactly how much more sugar you need (2:1).

  7. Final adjustment

    Measure out and add the additional sugar you need to reach a perfect 2:1 ratio (sugar 2:1 juice).

  8. Combine all ingredients

    Gently heat and stir the mixture to combine all of the ingredients and ensure the sugar is fully dissolved.

  9. Strain

    Strain the contents through a sieve to remove all peel while the mixture is still warm and easy to pour.

  10. Date, label and store in the fridge

    Finally, pour finished sherbet into a sterile bottle and for maximum shelf life, keep it sealed and in the fridge.

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