Time to Social-ice! Calamansi-Basil Sorbet and Prizes

Friday, July 10, 2009 52 comments

Calamansi-Basil Sorbet

For this next installment of the Ice Cream Social series, I decided to make a refreshing sorbet. Yes, I know - sorbet isn't ice cream. For starters, it doesn't contain cream, so already it's short 50% of the equation. But that doesn't mean it's only half as good as its dairy-based counterpart; in fact, sorbet's lack of saturated fats from milk or cream makes it a healthy dessert alternative, provided you watch the sugar content. Then, there's the simple fact that it's been around a lot longer than ice cream . . .

History's Refresher

Although its exact origins are uncertain, sorbet can be traced to the ancient civilizations of the Near East and Mediterranean Basin, where people added ice* and even snow to wine or sweetened fruit juices, thereby producing what may have been the world's first slushies. However, credit for the earliest technology for making sorbet-like concoctions is given to the Chinese, who used snow and saltpetre to chill containers of syrup (Toussaint-Samat, 749). No one seems to know when this innovation was developed - estimates range from as far back as 3000 BC to the first century AD - but the real question is how the Chinese figured that saltpetre was just as good for making gunpowder as it was for making frosty refreshers!
*A cuneiform script dating to 1700 BC describes an icehouse in the ancient city of Terqa, in what is now Syria (Buccellati, 12).

'Şerbet - Şurup Günleri' (Sherbet-Syrup Days)

The long and widespread history of frozen desserts is evident even through their names. For instance, sorbet, sorbetto and sherbet are, respectively, the French, Italian and English terms for iced concoctions typically made of water, sugar and fruit purees, and are derived from the Turkish Şerbet, a traditional, sweetened fruit beverage. In turn, that term can be traced back to the Arabic word sarba, meaning 'drink'. So, despite the fact that sorbet only half-qualifies as ice cream, its global history as a sweet frozen treat has earned it a place in this line-up.

Besides, our Ice Cream Social is EEOCD (Equal Eating Opportunity of Chilled Desserts) - ice cream, sorbets, sherbets, gelatos, granitas, fro-yos, sno-cones, halo-halo, kulfi, ais kacang, nam kang sai . . . [deep breath]. If it freezes, then it pleases!

With that, Scott of ScottySnacks, Jennifer of Savor The Thyme and I invite you to join us in celebrating July as National Ice Cream Month by sending us recipes, photos, or videos of your favorite frozen indulgences for a chance to win some wonderful sur-prizes. We know we left you hanging by holding back on what exactly those rewards were but now we're ready to start dangling the first of several carrots!

Prize Surprise!

(Image from Stonyfield.com)
What better prize for an ice cream contest than . . . ice cream! My co-hosts and I are pleased to announce that winners will receive coupons from Stonyfield Farm for their line of frozen yogurts and ice creams. For those of you who may not be familiar with this company, Stonyfield began as an organic farming school over two decades ago in rural New Hampshire, funding their operation by selling all-natural, organic yogurt using a recipe developed by founder Samuel Kaymen. Today, the company is the world's leading organic yogurt producer and has won numerous accolades for its mix of business acumen and social conscience, including being named one of the most ethical companies on the globe for the third consecutive year in 2009. Please visit their website to learn more about the company's products, history and practices.

Then, one lucky winner will receive a hand-printed t-shirt featuring a design created especially for our Ice Cream Social event! I'm so very proud to tell you about its creator: my younger sister Penelope, who has her own shop through Etsy, an amazing on-line marketplace of unique handmade crafts and gifts. Her 'eco-eclectic boutique', neenacreates, reflects her personal dedication to an eco-friendly lifestyle and offers clothing, accessories and artwork using organic and recycled materials for everything from baby onesies to one-of-a-kind illustrations. For our event, Penelope has created an ice cream-themed graphic that will be custom silk-screened onto an organic cotton t-shirt from Alternative Apparel, sized to the winner's request. To see more of Penelope's creations, please visit neenacreates, where she is offering 10% off any items to those who use the purchase code #icsocial on their order.

But that's not all, friends - we will be announcing other sur-prizes throughout the month so check back regularly to find out what else you can win for sharing your ice cream indulgences! In the meantime, head over to my co-hosts' sites to get the latest on their frozen treats:

Now, what are you waiting for? Get your scoop on!

UPDATE 7/11/09
Many thanks to OysterCulture, who noted that the contest rules needed some clarification regarding WHAT qualifies as an entry and in what FORMAT they can be:
Entries may feature any kind of frozen dessert including ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt, gelatos and any international variations, such as halo-halo, kulfi or ais kacang.

You also don't need to actually make a frozen dessert yourself! Please feel free to take a photo or video of a chilly treat that you've recently enjoyed and send it to us.
If you have any questions or are uncertain about what may qualify, please feel free to e-mail me at tanglednoodle@gmail.com for clarification!

Works Cited:
Buccellati, Giorgio. Terqa: An Introduction to the Site. Paper presented to the Symposium of Der ez-Zor, October 1983.
Toussaint-Samat, Maguelonne. History of Food. 1994
Other Sources:
Wikipedia.com - Sorbet, Sherbet, Saltpetre

Calamansi-Basil Sorbet
As much as I love ice cream, it's an affection that I can't afford to indulge on a regular basis, whereas sorbet satisfies the craving for something cold and sweet, minus the extra calories. When I first got my ice cream maker, my mother-in-law shared with me a recipe for Orange-Basil Sorbet and it quickly became a favorite. For this post, I thought I'd change it up a bit although it's still the same flavor combination: citrus and herbs. For this sorbet, I used the recipe from my mother-in-law (which I also found on Cooking.com) and simply substituted the juice, type of basil and liqueur. Try different combinations yourself!

It would be a surprise if you don't find a little container of fresh calamansi on your table when dining in the Philippines. These little lime-like fruits are used to flavor so many foods - it's added to patis (fish sauce), squeezed over dishes such as lugaw (congee/arroz caldo) and pancit (noodles), or made into a cold drink. According to the Food Lover's Companion, it is also known as calamondin and thought to be a hybrid of either kumquat and mandarin orange, or lime and mandarin. Either way, it's delicious! I have yet to find the fresh fruit anywhere in Minneapolis or St. Paul but I was fortunate enough to find frozen concentrate - good enough!

Equipment: electric ice cream maker


3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
2 cups calamansi juice
1 cup basil (I used 1/2 sweet and 1/2 Thai)*
zest of 1 lime (since I didn't have calamansi)
3 Tbsps dark rum (I used aged Tanduay, a Filipino rum)

*I left the leaves whole although next time, I think I will chiffonade them to release more of their flavor.

To prepare:

1. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, first bringing it to boil then reducing to a gentle simmer. Cook until sugar has fully dissolved; remove from heat and allow syrup to cool completely;
2. When syrup has cooled, mix it and remaining ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight;
3. When ready to make, strain out all basil leaves and zest;
4. Prepare according to manufacturer's instructions, although I suggest that you start the machine first before pouring the mixture into the bowl;
5. Mix for 25-30 minutes, then transfer to a plastic container with a tight-fitting cover;
6. Freeze at least 2 hours before serving.

Note about photos: the slices of citrus shown dressing the sorbet are key limes, not calamansi!


  • KennyT said...

    Calamasi and Basil in sorbet, how lovely!

    The contest sounds fun and the prizes are very attractive, but unfortunately I dunno how to make my own frozen indulgences.... so I am here to wish everybody luck!

  • The Diva on a Diet said...

    What an intriguing and delicious combination Noodle ... save me a scoop! I so wish I could participate in your Ice Cream Social, but alas, I am without an ice cream maker. I will have fun watching the flavors roll in though! And I can't wait to check out your sister's shop. How cool!

  • Chef E said...

    Oh my this is truly a nice one! Basil sounds like a great palate cleanser! We once had a chili lime that was delish, thanks for this post; it is a wonderful piece by you once again!

  • zerrin said...

    As you say, sherbet is one of our popular drinks especially in summers. Especially the lemon juice based sherbet called 'limonata' is the best for these hot days. As for the snow part, most Turkish people may not know, but there is a special dessert based on snow and grape molasses in the southern region of Turkey. It is called 'Karsambac', snow means kar in Turkish. The snow for this dessert is taken from the top of Toros mountains there, so it's completely clean.

  • Maria Verivaki said...

    i love sorbet - the first time i tried it was in a high class restaurant in new zealand, it was being served in between courses 'to cleanse the pallet'

    it's very hot in greece at the moment, and ice cream is the order of the day - but i still limit it for the children. i think it should always be regarded as a treat - too much of a good thing in the case of ice-cream is a little hazardous!

  • OysterCulture said...

    I love this combination of ingredients it sounds so refreshing, I make a sorbet of lime and basil that quenches the thirst like nothing else. I'm very intrigued by the calamansi and will look into the Filipino markets to see if I can find some.

    Just to clarify, as I thought based on rules and your response to my comment on your previous ice cream post - only ice cream is accepted, but now it looks like it includes sorbet and other frozen deserts. The reason I asked is that I would have submitted a sorbet post but though it was exclusively ice cream when I read the rules, and I may not be the only one.

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

    KennyT - Thank you! I admit that it didn't take too much imagination to substitute the orange with calamansi, though. 8-) Please do consider still entering: you can submit just a photo of a frozen treat that you've recently enjoyed!

    Duo Dishes - Thanks! It's a great simple recipe that has become such a favorite!

    Chow and Chatter - Thank you so much! I have a lot of fun making and eating the sorbet, and posting about it! 8-)

    Juliana - Thank you! It's great for cooling down and the flavors, though simple, are really delicious together.

    Diva - I'll definitely set some aside for you! 8-) And I hope you'll reconsider entering: you don't have to actually make anything yourself - just send us a photo of a frozen treat that you may have recently enjoyed!

    I'm totally biased but Penelope has some really cute stuff on her site. Hope you enjoy visiting!

    Vrinda - Thank you! Nothing like a cool refresher on a hot day . . .

    Elra - It really is (well, with an ice cream machine). Enjoy your weekend, too!

    Jenn - Waaaah! You remind me that calamansi is available in CA but nowhere in MN (except in the frozen concentrate that I finally found). Still, it's better than nothing. If you let this sorbet melt enough, it's totally like a slushie . . . there's some left in freezer!

    Chef E - Thank you! Chili lime sounds fantastic - hot & cool at the same time!!

    Greg - I'm glad, too! Cherry and chocolate are dancing in my head . . .

    Jackie - Thank you! And I would totally encourage you to break out your machine. Mine was stored away for at least 5 years (I'm not kidding) until about 2 weeks ago. Now, I don't know if I will ever put it away again!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Replies, cont'd

    Jennifer - Hey, co-host! Saw your delicious pineapple sorbet with agave. I have got to try it!

    Zerrin - I recall seeing 'sherbet' in several of your posts (including the one for your guest post at 5 Star Foodie's blog) and wondered if it was the same thing as what we have here. And that's wonderful info about karsambac - I will have to ask you how it's made!

    Bob - Thank you! Please let me know if you do although I might become very jealous! 8-)

    Girlichef - Thanks! It's a great little fruit and so very close to limes. In fact, I used key limes to decorate the sorbet b/c it's roughly the same size.

    Mediterranean Kiwi - I should have mentioned the fact that sorbet is often used between courses at restaurants - thanks for pointing that out! I completely understand about ice cream - I love it but actually rarely have it even though there many are now made with all-natural ingredients. Unfortunately, the calories are natural, too!

    Rebecca - Thank you! I didn't realize that sorbet goes so far back.

    Taste Traveller - Thanks! Perhaps you'll consider joining in? There are so many variations of frozen treats around the world - I hope we'll see them represented in entries!

    OysterCulture - First of all, I have no doubt you'll find calamansi in SF (I'm so envious!). Second:

    THANK YOU!!! I didn't realize that the rules are rather confusing and unclear; I just hope it didn't discourage too many people from entering. I will update both posts to correct it!

    Please consider sending in your sorbets or even just photos of your next foray to Humphry Slocombe!

  • Daily Spud said...

    I've never made sorbet but do love it. Would it be a bit extreme to jump on a plane, head over to your house and grab some of this? Meanwhile, I have dusted off my lilac ice cream post and sent it along to Scott for inclusion in your social, just in case I don't get a chance to do any new ice cream posts this month (which is entirely possible, given the way this month is shaping up - dearie me, how did things get to be so busy?)

  • Phyllis said...

    That sorbet looks so refreshing. I rarely come across calamansi limes in NJ but that's cool that you could get the frozen concentrate.

    And those prizes look FAB! Gotta get working on my submission (conducting more ice cream research at local eateries). Kris and I are still sporting poutine bellies so we are currently on a restricted diet: we only eat ice cream every OTHER day :)

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Sophie - Thank you! It's a wonderful treat to enjoy without feeling terribly guilty! 8-)

    Bergamot - Thank you! I have to admit that the next ice cream/frozen dessert I hope to make will also be 'white' (vanilla). Maybe my recipes are a little too bland in color?

    Daily Spud - Not at all extreme - you know you'd be welcome with open arms (one hand holding a bowl of sorbet!) I'm so excited that you're submitting your lilac ice cream!! That was such a cool recipe, although I wouldn't have been averse to seeing your potato shake! 8-)

    Phyllis - I'm quite content to have the concentrate at least. 8-)

    If you're poutine adventures is anything to judge by, I can not wait for your ice cream forays! Detox that poutine from your system and start scoopin' some more ice cream!

  • Scotty (Phat) Snacks said...

    oms, noodles. for seriously. i need to get my elbows dirty and FINALLY make some of these ice cream treats (i.e. ice cream, sorbet, yogurt and then some)!!

    as always, digging/scooping the creativity and imagery.. especially the lovely purple flower petals :D

    clearly getting your scoop on... scoop you some, noodles !!

  • Forager said...

    Sounds so delicious and perfect for summer! The calamansi/lime basil combination and your orange basil flavour combo sound equally fantastic and refreshing for summer. But then, I do love sorbet so I may be biased!

  • Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

    Your pictures are fantastic. They almost jump off of the page they are so beautiful. Love the basil in the sorbet. You're making me sorry I gave away my Donier ice cream maker. I didn't have room for it. We now make granitas, which don't require the ice cream maker.

    I've been away on holiday without internet access. It's nice to be on line again and visiting my favorite friends. While we were in Florida we met our neighbors. They're from the Philippines and their son is in medical school there now. Small world.

  • Marta said...

    What a gorgeous sorbet. This would be the classic sorbet that they give you in between courses at fancy restaurants to "clean you palatte". Very delicious!
    I love this ice cream event, I hope I have time to participate! Thanks for having it!

  • Navita (Gupta) Hakim said...

    I made granita a couple of weeks back...have been making chilled desserts/gelatos n frozen ones too....just to beat the heat...I have a terrible cold now yet can't stop scooping thru my freezer ;p

  • Anonymous said...

    Lovely job, TN! The sorbet is beautiful and look at you substituting this for that! I am so proud of you:)

    Will be interested in seeing all the keen entries.

  • Reeni said...

    At first glance I though this said calamari! Ha. I'm so glad it's not. I've never heard of these little fruits. The sorbet sounds so delicious - I love basil with fruit - it gives it a nice flavor.

  • gastroanthropologist said...

    Looks so refreshing. If it weren't pouring buckets in London...I'm without my IC maker here as well, but I can kind of swing it sorbets - Freeze and scrape. Just read Lori's post on basil - I can eat a bit more knowing its minus the fat of IC and so healthy!

  • Lori said...

    I love a refreshing sorbet in the summer heat. I love the idea of herbs in this. It sounds wonderful! Your sister has some very cute things in her Etsy shop. I love that whole concept. I'm trying to get my mom started on there soon with all her crafts.

  • Deeba PAB said...

    Just so exciting & totally refreshing. Beautiful flavours here. I love sorbets, & yours is really fab TN. And your sis is very talented indeed!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Was in the midst of replying to these most recent comment when Safari 4.0 gave out on me! All that typing lost . . . so now I'm starting over.

    ScottyPhat - Better get your scoop on: we're at the half-way point already! Thanks!

    Forager - I'm starting to give sorbet the edge over ice cream: same frostiness, less guilt!

    Sam - Thank you so much! I almost gave my machine away, thinking I wasn't using it. But now, I'm dreaming of upgrading! Hope you had a lovely holiday; did you have a chance to try Filipino food with your neighbors? 8-)

    Marta - Thank you! These certainly refresh between dishes but I'm now such a sorbet fan that I think they should get their own course! Please do consider participating in the social - there's still plenty of time!

    Cynthia - I didn't either! My first inkling was reading about sherbet as a syrup from Zerrin in Turkey on her blog GiveRecipes. It's fascinating to trace the history and migration of food!

    Molly Jean - Thank you so much! I had fun with it all.

    Maria - Thanks! It's a favorite recipe with a slightly different twist.

    Navita - I don't blame you; I would never ignore a frozen treat waiting for me in the fridge! Granita is something that I need to make since it doesn't need a machine. So many delicious foods to try . . .

    OPC - Thank you, O Teacher! It wasn't too much of a stretch but it's a step toward understanding how different flavors, texture, etc. are related and work/don't work with each other. You taught me that! 8-) So far, the entries are really fantastic!

    Miranda - Thanks! I'm hoping to be coming around your site in just a bit - I see quite a few posts that I've missed again! 8-)

    Teanna - It's amazing to know that certain foods go back such a long way, all without benefit of machines. Could I make sorbet w/o my Cuisinart? Not sure about that . . .

    Sala - Thank you! After reading your lavender post, I wonder how that flavor would work out . . .? 8-)

    Lisa - Thanks for checking out Penelope's site! She's been doing a great job with it and I'm so proud of her. The sorbet recipe is such a favorite that I couldn't deviate from it too much; thank goodness my basil plants are full right now - this takes up quite a bit!

    Reeni - [LOL] I have to watch the words I choose - don't want to turn off potential readers! Basil makes everything taste great, doesn't it? As for the calamansi, it's a tasty little fruit - too bad I can't find any fresh ones in MN.

    Gastroanthropologist - I saw your tweets about the rain! I'm one of those people whose mood is seriously affected by dreary weather. If it's the same for you, then between this and Lori's post, you should go and make yourself some sunny basil sorbet!

    Lori - Thanks! Sorbets are fast supplanting ice cream in my estimation (gasp!) And thank you for checking out Penelope's site. I hope your mom decides to go for it - Etsy is a wonderful marketplace for handcrafting.

    Deeba - Thank you so much! Penelope loves her crafting and artwork as much as we love our baking and cooking, so I'm happy that we can bring it all together!

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Ricardo - Hi! Your comment came in while I was posting the other replies so you get your own!! 8-)

    Thanks so much - as always, it was great fun making it and then I also got to eat it!

  • Carolyn Jung said...

    Only in the past year or two, was I introduced to calamansi. All I can say is, "Wow!'' I love the taste of it in place of lemons in an ice-cold "-ade.'' In sorbet, I can only imagine that it's even more magical.

  • Jude said...

    It's also quite tough to find kalamansi over here. I'll try my luck this weekend.
    Been enjoying this tequila-avocado sorbet lately. So creamy because of all the avocado fat.

  • Tangled Noodle said...

    Carolyn - The only time I have a chance to drink calamansi juice is when we visit California (or the Philippines!) Even using a concentrate, the flavor is really refreshing - it was an easy choice for sorbet. 8-)

    Nora - Thank you! The base recipe is wonderful and can be used with pretty much any citrus juice!

    Jude - Perhaps it will give me hope that it will show up here in Minneapolis if you do find it there! That tequila-avocado sorbet sounds awesome - hope you'll share it with us. 8-D


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