Blood orange sorbet brightens a rainy day


The gray, rainy days of February bring at least one consolation, these beautiful, juicy blood oranges in the market. Citrus is extraordinarily plentiful this season – a friend’s Meyer lemon tree is in overdrive – but it ‘s blood oranges that captivate me.

Although their California season extends for several months in the dead of winter, we have to catch them when we can in our local supermarket. Their rind is thick and often marked with a burgundy blush. Slice them open and there’s no question how they got their name. At it’s best, the flesh is a deep red, glistening like a garnet.

On looks alone, these descendants of Sicilian orchards stand out in the market among the crates of navel, Valencia and mandarin citrus so abundant at this time of year. Yet it’s their sweet, tangy flavor, with undertones of young red wine, that brings me back.orangesliced

Blood oranges are wonderful eaten straight out of hand, slowly peeling off the segments one at a time. They’re gorgeous in salads or garnishing a dessert and I just knew they would make a fabulous sorbet.

The great thing about sorbet is it’s so easy to make, especially if you have an ice cream machine. Mine is a low end Cuisinart with a work bowl that I leave in the freezer between uses. You could spend much more, of course. On the other hand, you could just chill your mixture to a stiff slush in the freezer and run it through the food processor or blender to get the right texture.

I use the term sorbet advisedly here on the authority of ice cream guru David Lebovitz, author of “The Perfect Scoop” (Ten Speed Press, 2007). I’ve added yogurt to the mix, which might send it into the sherbet category. David notes, though, that he’s seen even professionals use the term interchangeably. And the texture and flavor say “sorbet” to me.

A little juice, a little yogurt, a little zest, some superfine sugar and a splash of Cointreau went into the blender and whirled around. I stashed the blender jar in the fridge to cool and, a couple of hours later, poured the mixture into the spinning ice cream maker to freeze. That was all.

The flavor, was amazing – bright and lively with a bit of body from the yogurt and enough zing from the zest to cut through a gloomy winter day . What could be more welcome in the middle of February?


Makes 1 quart

Finely grated zest of 1 orange (see Note)
2 cups blood orange juice, freshly squeezed
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 cup superfine sugar
2 tablespoons Cointreau or other orange liqueur

Combine all ingredients in the jar of a blender and whirl on high speed until it comes together and turns a uniform flamingo pink. Chill mixture in the refrigerator for at least an hour – you want it to be very cold. Freeze in ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Spoon sorbet into a freezer-safe container with a tightly sealing lid and place in the freezer to firm up for an hour or so. If it’s left too long in the freezer, you may need to remove it about 5 minutes before serving to soften enough to be scooped.

Note: I find the acid bite of the generous portion of zest refreshing in this sorbet. If you prefer a more subtle dessert, cut back to a tablespoon or so of zest.

5 thoughts on “Blood orange sorbet brightens a rainy day”

  1. Yum, I bet this recipe would be nice with the aforementioned Meyer lemons. I imagine just adding a tiny bit more sugar would work. I think I’ll try it with what’s left of my Meyers.

  2. Sylvia, lemon juice is pretty strong. You might consider diluting it a bit with water or switching the ratios of juice to yogurt — say 1 cup of lemon juice to 2 cups of yogurt. Then again, if you have lemons to spare, you might try it with my proportions, but I might you’ll need more than a tiny bit of additional sugar. Please let me know how it works.

  3. Aleta – I want to make this so bad! I keep buying blood oranges, and my son keeps eating them before I can get to it! Aggghhh!
    They’re all over the farmers’ markets, so maybe maybe this weekend it will happen. I don’t have an ice cream maker anymore, so I’m going to try just the straight freezer method.


  4. Hey Aleta – the great thing about the blood oranges here in Sweden (they’re shipped up from Italy mostly) is that you can always count on them to be juicy, they’re never dry. Which I guess isn’t something you suffer from in California. Here, it’s always a risk. (They make a great salad with endive, blue cheese and cumin-spiced cashews.)

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