Homemade Ingredients - Citrus Sherbert
Updated: Mar 29
We at Cocktails For You believe in better drinks, we believe in delicious ingredients & even though nowadays everything is going quite down the direction of scientific experiments there are some classic old-school techniques that need to be mastered by all bartenders in our opinion. We’ve taken on the humble sugar syrup in a previous article so today we’re going to approach the infamous ‘Sherbert’ family of syrups.
It all starts with Oleo-Saccharum: The old school ingredient was brought back to the bartending masses by David Wondrich in his book “Punch” & hit the shelves everywhere ever after. Somehow it was only reserved for use in classic punches & didn’t quite hit off as heavily past the UK here in Europe where we’re based. Regardless the romance of the ‘Oleo-Saccharum’ is that it is like making a stew or a soup, it is a very personal thing that doesn’t quite taste 100% the same batch to batch. The traditional way & the one we still believe works the best requires 3 things - time, elbow grease & keen observation.
Step by Step:
Buy preferably organic UNWAXED citrus fruit (we love to use even a combination of different citrus. Lemon works best in oleo-saccharum but oranges, especially blood oranges, also work well and are often combined with lemon. We’ve ended up playing around with clementines, grapefruits & mandarins also!
Wash your citrus fruit especially if you’re getting it from a commercial supplier for your bar. Slightly above standard room temperature is perfectly fine (approx. 24C).
Peel citrus with as little of the white pith as possible on the peels and place in whatever useful container you prefer. When making this in bulk in your prep area/kitchen I suggest using large non-reactive metal mixing bowl.
Measure 50g of caster sugar per citrus for lemon, 80g for large oranges or grapefruits. The next step is key - in layers of sugar then peel then sugar again - you create a ‘lasagne’ of citrus peel infusion. Using a rolling pin you mash the sugar into the citrus to release the essential oils from the skin & let the sugar absorb this.
Mix the entire thing up then muddle more & repeat this process over a 2 hour period until the sugar starts to resemble the texture of toothpaste & you can see all those oils have been absorbed.
The next step is to remove the citrus peels & add to the bowl the same amount of citrus juice as sugar. Mix to dissolve the sugar as much as possible & create a homogenised ‘syrup’. I even recommend to use a little heat if required. Add 50ml of vodka to fortify & bottle.
The shelf life of this can be up to 2 weeks if not longer depending on the conditions you keep the citrus.
NOTES: - When making a sherbet from sweet citrus as opposed to lemons I don’t suggest using any heat in the process of dissolving the sugar. Even more so I always suggest to add some lemon juice to the mix to allows the acids to keep the mixture in staying fresh longer.
- ALWAYS strain your squeezed citrus juice before combining