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Cucumber Sorbet

Mon Jul 21, 2008

Cucumber Sorbet

Homemade Cucumber Sorbet

I invented the root beer float when I was five or six years old. I was at a birthday party at the Ground Round, staring into my glass of soda, contemplating how to make my plain vanilla ice cream taste better. And then it dawned on me. And I dumped the ice cream in the cup, watched the fizz build and then started to suck down the creamy soda through my straw. My friends watched on in awe.At least that’s how I remember it. Of course, I wasn’t the one who invented the root beer float. And I was eating vanilla ice cream because I was allergic to chocolate and drinking root beer because I was allergic to cola. These were the stories I told myself to make my food interesting, particularly when my food was different than everybody else’s. And apparently it worked. I love root beer floats like I invented them.

Ice cream, and I use the term loosely to include sherbet, sorbet and gelato, winds through our memories like ribbons of chocolate fudge. Chasing the ice cream truck. Sitting at a soda fountain. Or at the Bubbling Brook on a hot summer night. It reminds you of your first summer or after school job, of birthday parties and parents and grandparents and friends. Ice cream is a conjurer. Memories of discovery, like the root beer float, are echoed in the sound of a straw slurping at the bottom of a glass.

For something so cold, so fleeting, it’s amazing how ice cream can create feelings that are so warm and so long-lived. And while I love going out for ice cream (check out my post on the best ice cream shops in L.A. on Serious Eats) there’s something sublime about making it at home, too. That’s why once the weather turned warm I ran out and bought the ice cream maker attachment to my Kitchen Aid mixer.

The attachment—just a work bowl you stick in the freezer and a dasher—helps keep making homemade ice cream simple. Want to make vanilla ice cream? For a rich, custard-based vanilla all you need is milk, cream, sugar, eggs and a vanilla bean. Prefer chocolate chip, or, as the Italians call it, stracciatella? Melt some bittersweet chocolate and pour it into your ice cream just before it’s done mixing. And once you get a hang of it, everything from the farmers’ market to the liquor cabinet can become inspiration for your ice cream maker.

My most recent experiment is based on the refreshing Gordon’s Cup, a gin-based cocktail I had last week at Osteria Mozza. Made using gin, lime juice, vanilla-infused simple syrup and crisp summer cucumbers, the drink was like sipping garden sunshine. So I stocked up on Persian cucumbers at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market on Sunday and created this elegant sorbet. Perfect after a long day’s work, on a lazy Saturday afternoon or as a palate cleanser during a long Sunday supper, this fresh cucumber sorbet is a must-try while these snappy gourds are in season.

Cucumber Sorbet

2 lbs Persian cucumbers, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lime juice
2/3 c sugar
2/3 c water
½ vanilla bean

Puree cucumbers and lime juice in a blender or food processor and set aside.

Heat water and sugar in a saucepan on the stove, stirring until the sugar completely dissolves. Steep the vanilla bean in the simple syrup for 10 minutes (you can use a bean you’ve already split and used to impart flavor, or clean and dry this bean when you’re done to reuse).

Mix cucumber puree and simple syrup together. Push the mixture through a sieve, to get out any seeds; the batter will be slightly pulpy, but mostly liquid. Put vanilla bean back in mixture to steep. Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours, preferably overnight. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.

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15 Responses to “Cucumber Sorbet”

  1. Brooke Says:

    Well, I think it’s official. Your words and descriptions in this blog post are just as delicious as the incredible bite of cucumber sorbet I ran over the hill (to your apartment) for a taste.

    Delicious and beautiful, as always.

  2. merle Says:

    what is a parisian cucumber?

  3. Leah Greenstein Says:

    A Persian cucumber is a smaller variety of cucumber that you can usually find year-round. I liked it because I find it’s sweeter than the traditional English cucumber and its seeds are smaller.

  4. Sophie Says:

    We would like to feature this recipe on our blog. Please email sophiekiblogger@gmail.com if interested. Thanks 🙂

    You can view our blog here:

  5. Savvy Housekeeping » What To Do With Cucumbers Says:

    […] was intrigued by Cucumber Sorbet. Something about the understated flavor of cucumber makes me think that this would be refreshing […]

  6. tannaz sassooni Says:

    ended up with way too many persian cucumbers, and so i made this yesterday. so refreshing and not too sweet. unusual, but delicious!

  7. locavore Says:

    I’ve got an over-abundance of lemon cucumbers in my garden, and went looking for a sorbet recipe. I think I’ll try this with the lemon cucumbers (a little sweeter than a standard cuke, with a hint of tanginess) and elderflower syrup to replace some of the simple syrup.

  8. Bryan Says:

    I made a cucumber-gin cocktail, about a year ago.
    The only step I did differently was push the pureed cucumber through the sieve before I combinded it with simple syrup.

    I can’t wait to try this as a sorbet!

  9. Tim Gil Says:

    Can you do this without sugar for a pure cucumber taste

  10. Foodbuzz 24×24: YOU INSPIRE ME | Miladinoski Says:

    […] Cucumber Sorbet(Adapted from SpicySaltySweet) […]

  11. Leah Greenstein Says:

    Hi Tim, Sorry it’s taken so long to reply. If you don’t use sugar you will have a bowl of cucumber ice. The sugar actually helps to keep the sorbet softer. I try to use as little as possible in my recipes, though I learned long after I created this one that you can invert the sugar using citric acid for even better texture. You can try playing around with how much sugar you add by increasing the amount of citric acid in the simple syrup to see if it still freezes well, but I’m not sure how it will taste. Good luck!

  12. Lucas Trahan Says:

    Using your Cucumber Sorbet, I created a themed dessert about a sea turtle….Thanks for the inspiration.

    Tangy Cucumber Sorbet, Seaweed Medley: Ogonori, Irish Moss, Sweet Pickled Kombu, Baked Banana “sand” with Coconut Cream Sauce Spherifications

  13. Cucumber Sorbet « Nuts to Soup Says:

    […] have an ice cream maker, so I turned to these here interwebs and with the help of David Lebovitz, Spicy Salty Sweet, and Healthy Green Kitchen, I came up with […]

  14. Otto Arigato Says:

    Hello! I’d like to try your cucumber sorbet recipe. What does keeping the mixture in the fridge for 5 hours do in terms of consistency? I couldn’t quite tell if this process freezes the liquid, or if i need to put it into an ice cream maker thereafter to create the sorbet. Please let me know! Thanks!

  15. Leah Greenstein Says:

    Hi Otto–Putting the mixture in the fridge is standard for most ice cream/sorbet recipes–it helps the mixture freeze better in the ice cream maker. But you DO need to put it in the ice cream maker. These days, I’d probably also add a 1/4 tsp of citric acid to ensure that it doesn’t freeze too hard. Good luck!

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