“A lime a day keeps the doctor away”
– old naval saying (conceivably …)
Did you know that the concept of vitamins only appeared during the early 20th century? But by then, citrus fruits loaded with vitamin C had already helped many sailors avoid the dreaded scurvy (a debilitating, even fatal, C-vitamin deficiency illness) for at least more than a century.
The British navy started the practice of administering regular citrus rations, and others soon followed suit. And while lemons actually contain much more vitamin C than limes, the Brits preferred the latter: partly because limes were more readily available from the British Caribbean colonies, and partly because limes – being more acid – were believed to be more effective (a misconception, since what matters is the C-vitamin content, not the acidity).
Luckily, one does not need to be a sailor to enjoy limes, and even if they typically only contains about 25% as much vitamin C as lemons (!), that percentage is still pretty good for you. And limes taste so good!
If you – like me – are a sucker for the titillating flavour, it is difficult not to fall in love with this sorbet. The recipe strikes a good balance between sweet and sour. Somewhat to my surprise, even one of the young members of the family liked it a lot (grimacing her way through her scoop, then asking for more:-) .
The preparations are straightforward and extremely easy – the sorbet is made up of simple sugar syrup and lime. For the sugar syrup, combine water and sugar – shake or heat until the sugar has dissolved: ready! (read more about these two different ways of preparing sugar syrup here).
The lime flavour comes from the juice and the zest of the limes. And don’t skimp on the zest – just make sure you clean your limes well and grate away: the zest will provide a lot of flavour without adding any additional water (unlike the juice, partly composed of water) and thus help you avoid a too icy (in a negative sense) sorbet.
The level of sweetness should be just right for sorbet if you follow the recipe below. But if you like, you could always test this yourself – just clean a raw egg and begin the Egg Test! (Read more about the Egg Test here).
After you have churned the sorbet base, you may want to enjoy the sorbet right away … that is fine, although you should probably be quick about it: just churned sorbet is likely to melt on you really quickly. If you prefer a firmer, less slushy consistency, leave the sorbet in the freezer for at least about 2-3 hours before serving it.
If you plan to save the sorbet somewhat longer, however, you may want to consider adding a couple of tablespoons of neutral alcohol (like vodka) to the sorbet base – such a small amount will not really affect the taste of the sorbet but will make it freeze less hard.
You could also consider whipping up one egg white and add to the sorbet base towards the end of the churning – this will also improve consistency and texture, making the sorbet feel lighter and less solid-frozen. Myself, I’m quite fond of adding whipped-up egg whites to sorbets, but again – if you plan on enjoying your sorbet relatively soon after making it, I dare say it is not really necessary with any egg white. And in case you only have unpasteurised raw eggs at hand and worry about the possible health hazards, you might prefer to add the egg whites in the shape of some “health-safe” Italian meringue instead!
In conclusion – a deeply gratifying, refreshing sorbet that really captures the delightful taste of dazzling lime. Extremely easy to prepare, even without an ice cream machine.
No lime lovers should deny themselves this simply exquisite pleasure
- 4 limes, zest of
- 8 limes, juice of
- 500 ml (2 cups) simple syrup (made up of equal parts water and sugar; stir until dissolved; bring to boil, take off from heat; let cool. Alternatively, simply mix water and sugar together and shake vigorously until the sugar has dissolved)
- 250 ml (1 cup) water
- (optional) 1-2 tablespoons of gin or vodka (will make the sorbet softer, to the prize of adding to the time it will take for the sorbet to freeze sufficiently. This is usually not a problem if you have an ice cream machine but may be a factor when still-freezing, using the household freezer).
- (optional) 1 egg white, lightly whipped
- Make the simple sugar syrup (see above). Let cool down.
- Grate and, if necessary, fine-chop the zest.
- Combine the juice, zest, simple syrup, and water.
- If using, add the gin or vodka.
- Churn in your ice cream machine according to instructions, possibly adding a lightly whipped egg white to the sorbet base for improved texture and consistency (usually not necessary if the sorbet is likely to be consumed very soon after being finished).
- Refrigerate the sorbet base until chilled. Put in a (preferably rather flat) freezer-safe container, cover with plastic film and lid, and put in the freezer. After about 45 minutes, take out and churn the sorbet with a fork or similar, evening out what has started to freeze and breaking (too) large ice crystals in the process. Return the sorbet to the freezer and then repeat the churning every 45 minutes or so for at least 3-4 hours.
- You could also gently whip up and add 1 egg white to the sorbet once it has started to gain some consistency (like after 1-2 hours in the freezer) - that will also make the final sorbet "lighter/softer" and improve the consistency.