Thursday, June 2, 2011

Honeysuckle Sorbet

Summer is officially here!! Aside from the horrid humidity and suppressing heat we get here in Northern Virginia, I love the summer.  Cute skirts, flip flops, the beach, and ice cream.  I mean, I eat ice cream all year round. I'd eat it every day and at every meal if I could. (Yes, I know I'm a little obsessed with the stuff.) But there's something special about eating frozen treats like ice cream and sorbet and Popsicles in the summer. They taste better and they remind me of childhood and vacation. *Sigh*

my honeysuckle bush

it was hard work picking all those little flowers

Late in spring every year, my front yard is enveloped by a sweet aroma.  I walk outside my front door and down my sidewalk. Next to my sidewalk is a nice big tree engulfed by a huge honeysuckle bush. This year when it bloomed, the sweet honey smell was just so intoxicating. I knew there must be some way I can harness the power of this beautiful flower. So I began searching for recipes.  The first one that popped up was this one for Honeysuckle Sorbet.

Yumm!! Seemed easy enough too.  Let's go for it!

honeysuckle blossoms

soaking in water overnight

mmm...sweet honeysuckle water...

5 2/3 cups cool water
4 cups honeysuckle blossoms, tightly packed but not smashed*
2 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups water
Few drops lemon juice
Dusting of cinnamon
Add cool tap water to flowers. Place in a nonreactive container (glass or stainless steel) and let stand on the counter overnight.
The next day, make a simple syrup by heating sugar and 1 2/3 cups water in a saucepan over low heat until the mixture is clear, then boiling it for a minute or so, until the syrup begins to appear lustrous and slightly thick.

sugar + water

= syrup

Remove from heat and add a few drops of lemon juice to prevent the sugar from recrystallizing. Cool the syrup.
Strain the honeysuckles, gently pressing the blossoms so as not to waste any of your efforts.
Combine the honeysuckle and the simple syrup and add just the merest dusting of ground cinnamon — a hint will enhance the honeysuckle flavor; even a bit more will overpower it. [I've been told that the secret to a really good sorbet is alcohol. Particularly vodka. It helps keep the sorbet from becoming too hard. I actually used about 2 tbsp of peach flavored vodka.]

peach vodka

straining blossoms

Put the mix in a glass baking dish, let it freeze a little, stir and smash with a fork. Wait another couple of hours and do the same thing until it's almost frozen through, then put it all in a blender so its gets nice and snow-like. It need to be taken out of the freezer a few minutes before you serve it. [Or instead of doing this step, pour the mixture right into your ice cream maker (it will be warm and very liquidy) and let it churn about 40 minutes. It will still need to go in the freezer for a bit before its the right consistency.]

churning in...

the best little ice cream maker

Makes 1 generous quart. [My ice cream maker is 2 qt and not all the mixture fit in.]
* Note: Four cups of flowers is the least you will need to make this worthwhile. If you're using more, adapt the ingredients as follows: Use 1 2/3 cups water for each cup of flowers for the initial infusion. For the syrup, use 2/3 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar for every cup of flowers.

almost frozen

This sorbet had a sweet honey flavor with a slight hint of peach. A perfect flowery perfumey sweetness to welcome in the summer!

served with fresh blackberries


  1. When you combine the honeysuckle and the simple syrup, are you combining the strained flowers or the honeysuckle infused water? And would this recipe be perhaps less time consuming, or easier for someone without a honeysuckle bush (like me) to make with a honeysuckle extract -- if such a thing exists?

  2. Meg at The Red Spoon, I added the honeysuckle infused water to my simple syrup. Picking the blossoms from the bush was definitely a little time consuming. It requires A LOT of those little flowers and I used the bare minimum needed. So if you can find honeysuckle extract, go for it! Let me know if you find some and how it tastes!

  3. Saw your note that you were from the town that Wendy's filmed their commercial in. Very fun!
    What a great use of Honeysuckle. I never would have thought to turn it into a sorbet. Brilliant!

  4. DOnna that is genius. I love the smell of honey suckle but never thought they were edible. On top of that sorbet made of it you are kitchen scientist.