Oranges are in season during the winter which makes this Basil and Orange Sorbet a fun frozen treat to enjoy when this fruit is at its sweetest! Combine different basil varieties and orange varieties for a super unique treat.
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Years ago, and I’m talking back in my culinary school days, I was totally inspired when I took a class called Art Culinaire (this was also the inspiration for my Gourmet Mac and Cheese with Butter Poached Lobster post) by the amazing recipes we recreated from world-renowned chefs. Like James Beard-winning, multi-Michelin star chefs. One of the chefs we studied was the legendary Lidia Bastianich.
She had this incredible sorbet that was super Italian in taste and I fell in love with it. It was an Orange and Basil Sorbet. Of course, I’ve made a few tweaks to fit my taste and equipment. I still want to share this amazing recipe with you that you can enjoy virtually year-round.
When Are Oranges and Basil Actually in Season
Did you know that oranges come into season during the winter?! Shocking, I know! Often when we think of oranges we think of fresh, cold orange slices after soccer practice during the summer and fall.
It might seem odd to enjoy sorbet in the dead of winter, but this is when the oranges are the sweetest and juiciest!
If you do end up making this sorbet during the rest of the year, you can find fresh squeezed orange juice just about anywhere. I would highly recommend staying away from orange juice that was made from concentrate though, as it will affect the end taste.
And what about basil?! Basil comes into season during the late spring or early summer. This recipe seems like an unsolvable enigma but thanks to modern farming and other awesome techniques, it is possible to get fully ripe and in season ingredients to make this sorbet work.
What Kind of Basil to Add to Orange Sorbet
I do enjoy basil in a sweet application as well as savory; it pairs well with mint. This orange sorbet is super light and refreshing can act as a palate cleanser. The undertone of pepper found in basil plays off well of the sweet, clean citrus taste of the orange.
To really be creative with this recipe, try mixing up the different types of basil. In Lidia’s original recipe, she used Italian basil. I experimented with Thai Basil and the change in taste was astounding. You can also try chocolate and lime basil as well for a fun experience.
What Oranges to Use to Make Basil and Orange Sorbet
When oranges are in season, there are many varieties to choose from. I typically choose just navel oranges because you can get a good amount for a reasonable price. They also are rather big and super juicy!
If you are able to get different varieties, you can feel free to try out Valencia oranges as well. They have more of a pink tint to their pulp which would make for a fun sorbet. Also, tangelos! That would be a fun sorbet for sure!
What is Basil and Orange Sorbet
Sorbet is typically a frozen treat made from fruit juices and sugar. In this case, orange juice and sugar plus corn syrup (to help the consistency of the frozen sorbet).
To make this orange sorbet super special, I’m taking after Lidia and adding some fresh basil both in the cooking of the sorbet base, as well as adding in ribbons of basil. Not only do the ribbons of basil give a nice pop of green, it adds a different texture to the sorbet that makes the sorbet more fun to eat.
However, if you are someone that has issues with texture, you can feel free to leave out the ribbons of basil in the end stages of making the sorbet.
How Do You Make Basil and Orange Sorbet From Scratch
Making sorbet at home may seem a little tricky but it’s no different than making ice cream at home (I have a whole post on that as well!).
There are two different methods that you can go about to make sorbet though I really do prefer making sorbet in an ice cream maker.
Making Orange Sorbet in Ice Cream Maker
I personally use an ice cream attachment made for my stand mixer and I love it! When it’s summertime, that ice cream maker basically lives in my freezer. I love that it’s super compact because it is an attachment rather than a whole stand-alone ice cream maker. Though, if you have an ice cream maker, by all means, use it! Just make sure that you read the instructions on how to make sorbet with your particular machine.
With that in mind, there are two main things you need to be aware of when making sorbet:
- Your base needs to be chilled
- The ice cream making bowl needs to be frozen solid
If one of these two things don’t happen, your sorbet will be a disaster.
For my particular attachment, it needs to freeze for at least 8 hours before use.
You also need to strain the orange sorbet base of the basil before spinning the base.
Since sorbet doesn’t have fat content within them and have a higher sugar content that ice cream, you’ll only need to spin this orange sorbet base for about 15 minutes before it’s ready to transfer to the freezer.
At the 14-minute mark, I add in orange zest, as well as the basil ribbons just so that they get incorporated into the sorbet.
You may be wondering why you would put sorbet into the freezer after it’s just come out of the ice cream maker. The reason is that the sorbet hasn’t had time to “ripen,” just like ice cream needs to; it’ll be super soft and not the right consistency. Freezing the sorbet for about 2 hours before eating allows it to be the right texture for you to enjoy.
Making Basil and Orange Sorbet Without and Ice Cream Maker
Now if you are on a super tight budget, tight space, or just don’t make ice cream or sorbet all that much, you might not be looking to buy one just for one recipe. No worries, you can still make sorbet at home without an ice cream machine.
All you need is a good blender! I happen to be a HUGE fan of this one.
I like that one in particular because it has a setting just for making sorbets so it takes out all of the guesswork of what speed you need it at and for how long. However, I’m sure Blendtec or Ninja blenders could handle this as well!
What you do is you freeze the basil and orange sorbet base in a pan, about an 8×8” would be fine. Once the base is frozen, throw it into your blender and let it rip for about a minute! Once all of the ice chunks have broken up and made a smooth sorbet, you’re done.
Portion out the orange sorbet like normal and place the rest in an airtight container to keep in the freezer.
What to Serve with Basil and Orange Sorbet
Honestly, this dessert is perfect on its own. It would make a perfect palate cleanser during a multi-course dinner (if you’re super fancy). I love adding any of my sorbets to lemon-lime soda or even Ginger Ale for a fun mocktail or punch!
I really do hope that you enjoy this seemingly unconventional flavor pairing and share it with others! If you enjoyed this recipe, leave a 5-star rating along with your comment down below!
Check out these other sorbet posts to enjoy year round
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- 2 ounces Sugar
- 2 ounces corn syrup
- 2 cups fresh squeezed orange juice, (this took about 6 BIG navel oranges)
- 1/2 ounce fresh basil, chiffonade (cut into thin ribbons)
- Juice each orange, making sure to strain the seeds. Save the shell of one orange and cut into eighths. Zest 1 orange. Combine juice, sugar, basil and shell of one orange into a medium sauce pan.
- Bring to a boil. Once at a boil, turn off heat and let the juice mix steep for 20 minutes.
- Strain juice mixture into a medium sized bowl, add zest and cool for 2 hours.
- Take a pre-frozen ice cream maker and put together. Put sorbet base in ice cream maker and turn on to low setting. Spin mixture for 15 minutes.
- Add basil leaves and stir to incorporate fully.
- Put frozen mix into containers and allow to finish freezing 3-4 more hours or until completely set.
- Scoop and enjoy.
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Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 4 ounces
Amount Per ServingCalories 154Total Fat 0gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 12mgCarbohydrates 39gFiber 0gSugar 35gProtein 1g
This nutrition information is just an estimate.