Day 186 Orange Sherbet

I awoke early this morning at the cottage to an exciting thunderstorm that left the air heavy and warm – the perfect day to make ice cream. The choice of recipe was based on available ingredients and the consensus of my helpers. We made Orange Sherbet using Freda Aldrich’s recipe.

The chapter on Creams and Ices in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book includes four recipes for ice cream, several for mousse and six for various sherbets. There are also ices and creams. Some are simply put in a mould and frozen as a shape. Others are frozen using an ice cream machine. This is typically a container to contain the ice cream or sherbet or flavoured ice. The container has a paddle or dasher inside which is cranked to keep the contents moving around. This continuous movement should make a creamier, smoother dessert. The container is placed inside a larger container that is filled with ice and salt so that the freezing part of the process takes place at the same time as the churning part. There is chemistry involved in the combination of ice and salt but I’m not confident in explaining. I have to look up the proportions of ice and salt every time I try using an old-fashioned ice cream maker.

I decided to make half the recipe. Six oranges and one lemon were washed and the peel of one orange and one lemon was zested. All the fruit was juiced using an old style glass juicer. This was the most time-consuming part of the recipe. I put ½ tablespoon plain granulated gelatine in a bowl with a few tablespoons of cold water to dissolve. Once it was softened I poured 1 cup of boiling water over it and stirred. The entire mixture went into a saucepan along with the strained juice, 1 cup (1/2 pint) of sugar and another 1 cup of water (2 cups equals ½ quart). I stirred everything together and turned up the heat. Once it was boiling I kept stirring and then removed the pot from the stove. Since it is 2012, I put the pot in the fridge to cool rather than in an icebox or cold cellar.

Next it was time to prepare to freeze the cooled mixture. It could simply be placed in a modern freezer but the resulting texture will be different and probably less appetizing. This recipe was intended to be frozen in an ice cream maker. I don’t own a hand cranked ice cream maker so I’m going to try a modern technique that is based on the same principle and still involves human power. The orange sherbet mixture is placed in a small quart size resealable plastic bag that is then placed inside a larger gallon size resealable bag half full of crushed ice and ½ cup of kosher salt. The bag in a bag is then shaken, tossed, kept in motion to keep the mixture moving.

In 1906 the ice would be chipped from a block of ice but I was able to buy crushed ice. Orange sherbet mixture in the little bag inside a big bag of ice and salt and we were ready for the fun. Outside in the shade two of us took turns shaking the bag. Gradually we could see that the sherbet was forming. The ice was melting so I added some more and we continued. Once the sherbet was starting to thicken I whisked up one egg white and carefully added it to the little bag. It is important to open and close the little bag carefully so that none of the salty water/ice gets inside. The little bag went back in the big bag and the shaking continued. The entire freezing process did not take very long – about 10 minutes. Once frozen it was ready for tasting.

Freda Aldrich is another of the invisible women. I can’t find her in Waterloo Generations or in the census.

The Orange Sherbet is sweet with a nice citrus taste and best of all COLD. Ours ended up more like slush so it probably needed more freezing but we were impatient. After a brief tasting we put the little bag in the modern freezer to see how the sherbet changed and to have it as dessert with our evening meal. It remained slushy. One taster thinks it is too sweet. However, it was fun to try making a frozen dessert and I’ll use this technique again with some of the other recipes in the cook book.

ORANGE SHERBET
12 oranges, 2 lemons, 1 pint sugar, 1 quart water, 1 tablespoon of gelatine soaked in a little cold water when dissolved pour over 1 cup boiling water, and add the juice of oranges and lemons, sugar and rest of water, boil all together for a few minutes. Let cool, and when cold put in freezer and start freezing. When partly frozen and the beaten whites of 3 eggs continue freezing, until frozen solid.
Any fruit sherbet may be made this way.

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