When you tell people you spent your freshman year — and only your freshman year — in Florida, at a small school in Clearwater, just a quick drive from white, sandy beaches and surrounded by year-long sunshine, the most typical response is confusion. Especially when they find out you later transferred to the northern woods of Wisconsin, just half an hour from the U.P.
What can I say?
The truth is, Florida and I never quite hit it off.
First, there was the intense heat when I arrived in August, with humidity that made my hair frizz any time I stepped out the door.
Then there were the bedbugs, the failed French test, the homesickness, and the time I passed out trying to give blood.
Mostly, there was Christmastime. And while I loved visiting the beach on spring break in high school, it was an entirely different thing in December, when white twinkling lights and waving Santas dotted yards filled with palm trees and colorful flowers, and we still didn’t need to put coats on when we went outside.
One thing I will say for Florida, though – and this is something important: the people there know how to grow a good orange.
On more occasions than I should admit, my friend Liz and I hopped in her bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle, the one with daisies propped up in a bud vase on the dash, and headed to the retail shop for a local orange grove.
I guess some people would make the trip for the oranges, or maybe for the juice. But we went for the ice cream.
Orange Blossom Groves in Clearwater, Florida closed in 2015. But during the 2000-2001 school year when I was there, they made the most amazing orange soft serve ice cream, totally worth a drive over in the middle of the day, sometimes more than once a week.
That soft serve was frosty perfection: silky, creamy, ice cold, and incredibly fresh.
The entire place smelled like citrus – the way your hands do when you peel an orange and the fragrance sticks to your fingers – but the flavor of the ice cream was ten times the aroma that permeated the air.
You know that episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where they’re in Italy and Robert gets the peach gelato, and says it’s like he’s never tasted a peach before? That was what this soft serve was like, only orange.
So, you can imagine how excited I was when, in an attempt to use up some extra orange juice, I made this: homemade orange sherbet so similar to that orange grove soft serve, I was immediately transported back.
This sherbet is a mix of orange juice, milk, and a few other things, blended together and chilled, then churned in an ice cream maker or with a simple method of alternating freezing and whisking by hand. This frozen dessert is as refreshing as it gets, pure orange in creamy, icy form.
In fact, talking about it right now makes me want some more… which wouldn’t be a problem, if there was more than just a spoonful left in the bowl! Looks like I’ll be making some more, very soon.Print
Bursting with fresh flavor, this orange sherbet is a no fuss way to enjoy sunshine in a bowl. Cool off with this sweet tangy treat, and make it at home today.
- Add all ingredients except the milk to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until the sugar is dissolved, approximately 1 minute. Add the mixture to a large mixing bowl, then whisk in the milk.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Chill for 1 hour.
- Add the mixture to an ice cream maker, chilled according to manufacturer’s direction. Process until it is the consistency of soft serve ice cream. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, freeze mixture in 30 minute intervals, whisking between each, until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Serve immediately, if you prefer a softer texture. Otherwise, place the mixture in an airtight container or loaf pan covered with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours.
Adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown.
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Measure and Prep Ingredients
Using a zester or microplane, zest the oranges to get the required amount.
Juice the oranges and lemon, and measure. Set aside the quantity that you’ll need, and reserve the rest for another use.
Measure the remaining ingredients, and set aside.
Make sure the milk is very cold, so it won’t curdle when it’s added to the orange juice. Chilling the citrus juice as well before combining the ingredients is not a bad idea, especially if you plan to make this recipe on a hot day!
Step 2 – Make Base
Make the sherbet base by combining all ingredients except for the milk in a food processor or blender.
Process until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute, and add this mixture to a large bowl.
Whisk in the milk using a large balloon whisk.
Step 3 – Chill
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. Chill for 1 hour.
Step 4 – Mix
Once the mixture is chilled, add the mixture to an ice cream maker. Process according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
At this point, the sherbet will be the consistency of soft serve. If you like it this texture, serve immediately. If not, move on to step 5.
If you do not have an ice cream maker, you can place the mixture in the freezer for 30 minutes at a time. Whisk in between each interval until the sherbet reaches the texture of soft serve.
Step 5 – Chill Again
Place the sherbet in an airtight container or a loaf pan covered with plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 3 hours to set completely.
Citrus Bliss at Any Time of Year
Thankfully, with constant access to fresh oranges and 100% orange juice in most grocery stores, this frozen treat is one that can be enjoyed any time of year.
The best part about this recipe is that it does not require an ice cream maker. It take a little bit more time to make the sherbet without one, but in a pinch, it is completely doable and quite easy to accomplish.
When you freeze the mixture in 30 minute intervals, whisking in between, you are keeping the mixture chilled and mixing it just like an ice cream maker would, helping to aerate the liquid. It’s just happening at a bit of a slower rate, and the ice crystals won’t develop in quite the same way, since you’re alternating a full freeze with a short period of melting when you stir.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see that this deliciously simple recipe can be made at any time of year, to brighten up an otherwise mundane week. And it’s perfect at the peak of citrus season, made with fresh Valencias, Navels, Honeybells, or your favorite orange variety.
Have you tried this creamy, dreamy recipe for yourself? If so, be sure to tell us how you liked it in the comments below, and give our recipe a rating while you’re there. Do you love ice cream? Check out our homemade ice cream guide for some more ideas.
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Photos by Meghan Bassett, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on July 20th, 2009. Last updated: May 20, 2018 at 0:00 am. With additional writing and editing by Meghan Bassett and Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her mantra? Restoring order and celebrating beauty through creative content, photography, and food. Shanna's work has been featured in Bon Appetit, The Kitchn, MSN.com, Everyday Health, Better Homes & Gardens, Houzz.com, Food News Journal, Food52, Zeit Magazine, Chew the World, Mom.me, Babble, Delish.com, Parade, Foodista, Entrepreneur and Ragan PR.