Sunday, August 21, 2016

Mint Sherbet

As anyone with a garden can attest, this is the time when you get to start picking the many fruits of your watering, weeding, and chasing away squirrels! We at A Book of Cookrye are no exception, and truly, this is the time when we get to enjoy the spearmint we planted! ...Or at least, it would be the time for enjoying the mint had the plants not died.
Truly a bountiful mint harvest.

I can't lie. While the random hodgepodge of plants we try to pass off a garden does look all right, it's nothing compared to what we planned and planted for. Most of the plants we originally set out died in the spring floods. The few survivors of that were dug up and eaten by squirrels. The few survivors of the spring floods and the squirrels flopped over and died in the summer heat. (At least since we started from seeds, we didn't spend a massive fortune on plants that died.)
Among other things, we planned a beautiful little section of all night-blooming flowers, which we'd put a table in the middle of. This is one of five surviving plants of the would-have-been magical moonlight tea garden.

And so, for no reason other than it's pretty, this is the moonflower vine we planted! Actually, we planted literally two entire packets of moonflower seeds, but while most of them sprouted, only four survived and of those only one has bloomed.
Using the ant for scale, you can see this flower is huge.

Anyway, we decided that even if we didn't get the mint ourselves from our own garden, we could nonetheless savor the fruits of the mint we would have gotten from our own garden had it not died.

The Cotton Country Collection, 1972

Monroe, Louisiana's (apparently) famous
Mint Sherbet
6 firmly packed tbsp chopped* mint leaves
6 oranges
2 lemons
2 c sugar
2 c water
Food coloring (optional)
1 egg white
1 c cream

Grate the rind off one lemon. Juice all the fruit. Soak the mint leaves and the lemon rind in the juice for at least 30 minutes.
When the time has passed, put the sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat. Boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Add the mint and juice. Cover to keep out bugs and dust, and leave until it's completely cooled. You may want to do the syrup the day before since it'll take a while.
When the syrup is cooled, strain it and add the cream. If you like, add blue food coloring to make it green. Beat the egg white stiff. Pour a little of the syrup into the egg white and gently fold it in. Add in a little more, until it is no longer so thick it would make impossible-to-beat-in lumps. Then stir it into the rest.
Pack into an ice cream freezer and freeze.

The Cotton Country Collection, 1972 (contributor: Mrs. RC Sparks)

*Or, to save time, put the mint in a small cup and snip with scissors. For the record, I used stems and all since you strain it all out anyway.
While you could refrigerate it or otherwise speed up the cooling, I didn't since it seems like it's supposed to be an extended time for the mint to steep.

 Apparently this recipe is a Monroe, Louisiana specialty, or so the note above the recipe claims. Searches for combinations of words like "Monroe mint sherbet" didn't turn up so much as a late '80s newspaper clipping about the apparently famous mint sherbet to be found in Monroe, Louisiana.

Here we must pause to note that while 6 tablespoons of chopped mint doesn't seem like you will use very much, the entire package of mint leaves yielded barely over three spoons (good thing we're cutting this recipe in half). That includes all the stems since, upon realizing you're supposed to strain everything out anyway, we figured plucking all those tiny leaves would take forever. We just put all the mint in a little cup and had at it with scissors until it appeared sufficiently chopped.

Also, as we found out when we made water ice, any recipe that involves juicing massive amounts of fruit tends to get very messy. Also, if you have to cut your oranges small enough to fit in a lemon squeezer, it will take a long time.

This doesn't look like orange juice and mint, does it? If I couldn't smell it, I'd have thought you're supposed to pour it into a frying pan and get an omelet.

I had severe misgivings about the recipe at this point. This bowl of juice, having been left to its own devices to sit for however long it took to clean the kitchen and wipe off the last sticky deposits of orange juice from the countertop, tasted bitter and nasty. We considered doubling the sugar to make up for it.
This had better be enough sugar to make up for how the rest of this recipe tastes.

However, we weren't too terribly worried about how bitter and awful the orange juice tasted. Coffee tastes like the distilled misery of whatever job one drinks it to stay awake from, and copious amounts of sugar make even that pleasant. Of more pressing concern was the fact that, despite mint being in the recipe name and present in great quantity, the orange juice didn't taste minty.
Looks like I'm trying to eat compost.

To our great surprise here on A Book of Cookrye, the mint didn't add a cute green tinge to this at all. This was such a bright yellow that, despite having absolutely no artificial color in it whatsoever, looked unnatural.

It looked even worse when we added the cream. On its own, the syrupy stuff looked like it might be that weird butter stuff they dump on stale popcorn at movie theaters, but it looked like a pee sample once the cream was in it.

Here, we at A Book of Cookrye made an executive decision. Usually, when we make things that are flavored with actual things and not bottles of extract, we like to leave them whatever color they turn out to be. It makes it easier to be smug about how all-natural our calorie bombs are. However, we had to add some neon blue because mint is not supposed to be such a bright yellow. We were hoping to somehow land on that color called "mint green," but instead got something closer to the walls you stare at while in line at the DMV.
At least it looks like it contains mint now.

Here we get to the instruction that confused me the most. What's the point of this egg white?

Whatever the egg white was supposed to do, it refused to mix in at all. It just bobbed merrily away from the spoon in its little lake of artificially colored mint green. We had to remove the egg white and gradually add enough syrup-cream to make it runny enough to mix in.

It later occurred to me that maybe you were just supposed to plop it in there and it would gradually get mixed in as the ice cream freezer spun.

All right, it's now the color of the computer we had in the '90s. To be fair, that's mostly the egg white foam floating on top- if you stirred it aside, you found a pale green cream under it. The real question- will this stop looking so bad once it's been frozen?

Actually, it looks surprisingly good! And despite requiring artificial color to get there, it's a pleasantly natural-looking shade of minty green! But how does it taste?
Pretty good, actually. Everyone who tried it, independently of each other, said it was "refreshing." It doesn't taste like mint-flavored things at all, but the fresh mint and orange juice combination is indeed very delicious. Also, as a recipe note, it's really good with some gingerbread as long as you don't tell anyone the recipe was supposed to make brownies.


  1. This recipe seems like a surefire disaster on paper--everyone knows mint and citrus don't go together!--but as if by magic, it all works out! I wonder if the recipe has that distinctive coolness mint has. It would be hard to tell when sherbet is already cold.

    I remember that Kool-Aid, of all things, used to make what I can only refer to as "mentholated lemonade." It was lemonade-flavored drink, but it had that cool mintiness to it. Bit of a shame I haven't seen that in many places out side of cough drops...

    1. You know, I've never heard about keeping mint and citrus separate. I guess sometimes it pays off to be completely ignorant of basic cooking rules (not often, but you never know...). It does seem to have an extra coolness that doesn't just come from literally freezing it.
      You know, minty lemonade sounds pretty good. It may be worth steeping mint teabags instead of using just water when making it.