Olivia Dish

My Darling Clementines

In Homemade, Sweets on January 16, 2011 at 10:54 pm

Standing by to make citrus reticulata sherbetus

Clementines are that bit of sunshine that gets you through the winter, I’ve decided.

For years, when I’ve spent winter weeks in Paris, I’ve loved that I could buy bottles of deep orange clementine juice at the corner grocery. At home, clementines are everywhere come December, in their cute little crates, making them a great fruit treat to take to a dinner host (surpassed for me as a “hostess” gift only by the pineapple).

I’d bought a crate for myself and had been enjoying daily salads made of sunflower sprouts tossed with clementine wedges and toasted almonds, drizzled with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Then a family crisis forced me to be out of town for some weeks. When I returned, the clementines needed to be consumed or we’d have to just say goodbye.

Before the crisis, I’d though I might try making clemoncello–a variation on limoncello with clementines. But I wasn’t in the mood to bother with it. Life had already become too difficult, at least for the moment.  I was exhausted just by the thought of trudging over to the liquor store to buy Everclear.

So I decided to make a simple sherbet with my aging clementines.

clementine juice

Squeezing and squeezing and squeezing…

For sherbet, I generally follow a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, but I’ve altered it a little. (Find my version here.) I began by mixing the zest of four clementines with 2/3 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt in a bowl.

spent  clementines

That’s a lot of clementines

Then I squeezed 2 cups of clementine juice in another bowl.  (I haven’t counted yet, but it’s a lot of clementines.)  I poured that into the sugar and zest and mixed until dissolved, then strained it all into yet another bowl.

I added a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice–and the last of my Woodford Reserve (about a tablespoon of bourbon), bringing a happy note to what would have otherwise been a sad goodbye.  I put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill a bit.


Bourbon keeps the sherbet from freezing too hard–and, of course, adds flavor!

I’d read that clementines are also known as seedless tangerines, and for the most part, my clementines didn’t have seeds. But one or two did–and they were humongous seeds to come from such a tiny orange. Had some randy bees been cross-pollinating with my clementines?

For part two, I whipped 2/3 cup of heavy cream in a large bowl. Yes, I know that ultra-pasteurized cream is hard to whip. It’s what they had at my neighborhood market. So I used my hand mixer instead of a whisk (and still felt as if my arm might fall off). At last, the cream was whipped. With the mixer running on low, I poured in the chilled juice, put into my ice cream maker, and let it churn.

Heavy cream

Whipping the cream keeps the sherbet light.

While it churned, I googled for more information about the clementine. It’s the smallest type of mandarin orange, I read, possibly a mutation discovered by an Algerian monk named Clement. Or not. Clementines went into commercial production first in Spain, around 1925.

Fortunately for all of us, I didn’t have time to look for more information, because my sherbet was setting up nicely. I dipped an iced tea spoon into the spinning canister a couple of times.  So good–I think the secret is the combination of zest, fresh juice and a dash of bourbon. The sherbet is a pretty pale orange, very creamy, but be ready when it’s time to stop churning. It melts quickly. I had a chilled stainless steel bowl in the freezer, waiting for this moment. Sherbet in, save a scoop or two for me.

homemade sherbet

Sherbet from the grocery store is nowhere close to this good.

Clementine sherbet has less bite than orange sherbet, is a little sweeter and richer, just as I find bottled clementine juice in Paris to be. Or, if I were feeling a little drunk from less than a tablespoon of bourbon, I might call it a bit of breezy summer heaven on a chilly winter night.

P.S.-Even better on Day 2, which means it’s unlikely there will be a Day 3.


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