The scent of honeysuckle blossoms flavor a summertime sorbet. Recipe below.
My wife, Neenah Ellis, and I came upon this recipe in North Carolina, where she was doing a reading from her book If I Live to Be 100: Lessons from the Centenarians. We were visiting member station WUNC in Chapel Hill, and someone there offered us a cup of homemade honeysuckle sorbet. It was delicious. The flavor is both familiar and unusual.
One thing we like is that there's just a moment of spring when you can pick enough blossoms to make the sorbet. And like the blossoms, it's best on the day you make it.
Neenah adapted this recipe from one she found in the Raleigh News & Observer, which adapted it from one by Bill Smith, the well-known chef at Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill.
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.
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.
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 if you have an ice cream freezer, churn it according to the manufacturer's directions.
Makes 1 generous quart.
* 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.
Our Readers Respond
In my sweet French river valley in Gascony, a neighbor makes Honeysuckle brandy with a Pear William base. Monsieur Gros calls it Saute-Buissons, the old patois name — jump the hedgerows, because like the flowering vine, it helps lift you out of the day to day fields and into a playing hooky state of mind. I recommend a chilled thimble of Saute-Buisson with this delicious sounding sorbet. Kate Hill of Ste.Colombe-en-Bruilhois, France