Raspberry & Old Gin Sorbet


I wanted to make some ice cream to have ready in my freezer for when my friends Linda and George arrived from Spain this evening to stay for a few days. It seemed like a good idea to be a bit prepared in advance and homemade ice cream is always a treat. I decided to make a sorbet as Linda doesn’t eat diary and was thinking about what flavour would be nice. It’s a bit early in the year for my lovely Summer Sorbet because there aren’t red- and blackcurrants about yet – though there should be soon – but raspberry would be good, I thought. So I bought a few punnets (500g) of gorgeous raspberries.


They’re such a wonderful fruit; their intense perfumed taste is less sweet than strawberries and has a slightly sour note. I wondered what I could add to the sorbet to make it just a little more special and turned as I often do to Niki Segnit’s The Flavour Thesaurus, which is a wonderful book (a present from my daughter) with ideas for pairings and combinations, and the author often comes up with some surprising and wonderful things. Here I came across the idea of adding gin to raspberries and as I had a bottle of Genever – Old Gin – that I’d bought in Amsterdam at the end of March, that seemed a brilliant way to go.


I’m not really a gin drinker but when I’m in Amsterdam I love to have a small glass – shot size – of ice-cold Genever as a night-time digestif. In March, Nicola and I would go into the same pub – one of the oldest in Amsterdam – each night after dinner and sit at the bar where I’d order one; she stuck to beer. The glass is filled to almost overflowing; there’s no way you can pick it up. You’re supposed to lean forward, hands behind your back, and sip … as I did while Nicola looked on:


Well, it was going to be a simpler affair adding it to my sorbet but I really liked the idea of trying this. First of all I made a sugar syrup with 200g caster sugar and 300ml water. Put them in a saucepan and heat, stirring from time to time until the sugar has dissolved, and then allow to bubble for 4-5 minutes until thickening a bit; take from the heat and leave to cool. Now use a hand blender or liquidizer to puree the raspberries, having squeezed over the juice of 1 lemon first. Once the fruit is blended, pour through a strainer to get rid of the seeds which would spoil the sorbet. Throw the seeds away.


At this point I added 2 tablespoons of Old Gin. This was all guess work and like most guess work when cooking it’s best to go slowly: you can add more but not take out. Mmm. I added a 3rd tablespoon. That was better. Now I poured it into a jug to more easily transfer it to the ice-cream maker.


It took a long time to churn and never got very thick. I wondered if I should add less liquid another time. I was using my standard sorbet measurements but of course had added more liquid with the gin. I gave up after a while not wanting to risk destroying my ice-cream maker by leaving it on too long (it was getting quite hot on the outside), and I transferred the still quite sloppy mix into a freezer container to finish freezing. I tasted it and it tasted good; I just hoped it wouldn’t be too icy rather than smooth and creamy once I came to serve it. I gave Fabio a preview taste during my Italian lesson this afternoon; we always end up discussing food and my blog. Like all Italians I know, Fabio is very knowledgeable about food and a natural ‘foodie’. And like a true foodie he smelled it first and said it smelled very good; then he tasted and was equally enthusiastic.

When it came to serving it at suppertime, I thought it would be fun to serve a little Genever alongside. Then, affogato style – usually with coffee and vanilla ice cream, but affogato is Italian for ‘drowned’ so coffee isn’t a necessity, I think – I gave everyone some Genever to pour over the sorbet.


It was fun and it was good. The Genever is quite potent so you don’t need much! But it made a delicious and refreshing dessert and the raspberry taste of the sorbet was intensely fruity with a lovely little lift from the old gin. A dessert and a digestif all in one!

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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