How to make cranberry sherbet

Cranberry Sherbet

If you want to know how to make the world’s best cranberry sherbet, you’re in luck. Read on. But the real discussion here is about tradition.  I’m just using cranberry sherbet as a pretext to talk about it.

Ever since I was a wee lad, I’ve gorged on cranberry sherbet twice a year, at Thanksgiving and Christmas. A frozen dessert in winter is an unconventional choice on the frozen plains of Nebraska, but we think my maternal grandmother’s family has been doing so for about a hundred years or so. We actually pronounce it sherbert, with an extra R. Because sure-burt just sounds tougher than sher-bet. And because we’re difficult — the people of the great plains didn’t survive harsh winters eating frozen desserts by doing things the easy way.  Or maybe because my family believes there’s no such thing as a “sure-bet”.

But cranberry sherbet is not a quaint memory for me. It’s a visceral, emotional connection to my childhood, to my family and to my sense of place. In some small way it frames who I am and how I see the world. And that’s what family traditions are about.

But I think Tradition is a loaded word. Tradition (big T) sounds heavy, full of pomp and circumstance. Tradition (big T) sounds like it should be planned and well thought-out. “It’s tradition to name the first born son William in our family.” But don’t be fooled into thinking that’s the only type of tradition. Anything we do regularly with our kids can become a tradition (small t). That might be Saturday morning walks to the coffee shop or Tuesday night boardgames. Doesn’t matter; the best traditions (T & t) carry the same powerful effect of helping our kids frame the world and their place in it.

And now, without further ado, how to make the world’s best cranberry sherbet:

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups sugar (any dessert with a 6:4 water:sugar ratio has to be a winner)
  • 1 package (3-4 cups) cranberries
  • 4 Lemons
  • 4 Egg Whites

Instructions:

  1. Stew (almost boil) water, sugar and cranberries until all berries pop.
  2. Strain, smashing to get some pulp but mostly juice. (The more you smash, the better.)
  3. Discard solid. Keep the Juice.
  4. Add juice from 4 lemons.
  5. Cool.
  6. Mix in 4 beaten egg whites (foam will stay on top).
  7. Freeze.
  8. When semi-hard, take out and beat again. (If frozen, let partially thaw and beat)
  9. Re-freeze.
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