Cherry Basil Sorbet

Everything comes full circle somehow. It doesn’t matter if it is fashion, food, or even life experiences. I’m starting to realize that despite 29 years, geography, and even historical placement, my daughter and I are more similar than I expected.

On her last day of school, I helped out in the classroom as they had their year end party. One of her sweet friends politely greeted me. And all I could do was stare at her dress. You see, I had one just like it, once upon a time…layers of ruffle, a gauze-like floral, pretty (but itchy) smocking, and adorable straps that tied on bony shoulders.

That was the age I devoured the adventures of Laura Ingalls, paperback after paperback, episode upon teary episode.  Those were the summers of Atari and pretend camp-outs with my cousins in their backyard. We would smuggle Styrofoam cups of steaming ramen into our makeshift tents (if that’s what you could call little tables covered with sheets), because that was camping food, of course. We would emerge from our hiding places into the hot sun to walk to the corner store for those yellow cups of Italian Ice. I would get cherry because each scrape of the wooden spoon would guarantee that my lips would be left with that bright stain. Like my lipstick? we would ask one another, giggling.

These days, I look forward to when my daughter and I re-read the Little House on the Prairie books before bed. She recently discovered re-runs of the show and when she comes home from camp, begs to watch an episode. Ataris are replaced by DSI’s, and backyard tents are always in demand.

Out here, there are no Italian ices at the local pizzeria. But there’s a frozen yogurt shop near every Starbucks. And moms like me who make homemade sorbet. Cherry Basil Sorbet.

My cherry sorbet grew up, like its maker. Made with freshly pitted cherries, and a simple syrup infused with a hint of fresh basil, one icy spoonful brought me back to those sticky summers of not-so-long-ago. The past is not so distant, after all.

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Cherry Basil Sorbet

Yield: Makes about 1 quart.

I like the subtle hint of basil in this refreshing sorbet. If you prefer a simpler version, by all means, omit the basil.


1 cup simple syrup (to taste), see recipe below
2-3 leaves fresh basil
12-16 oz cherries (fresh or frozen), pitted
1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice


Upon brewing your simple syrup, set aside 1 cup and allow the basil leaves to steep for an hour or two. Remove basil before using.

Put cherries, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a blender. Adjust sweetness as necessary, depending on the quality of the cherries. Blend and strain. Chill for at least an hour. The sorbet mixture can be made up 24 hours in advance.

Put mixture into an ice cream maker and churn for 20 to 30 minutes.

Store in an air tight container in the freezer.

Simple Syrup

Makes 3 cups.

  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until sugar dissolves, about 3-4 minutes. Cool completely.

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by Liren Baker on June 17, 2011

42 Responses to “Cherry Basil Sorbet”

  1. Nelly Rodriguez June 17, 2011 @ 6:01 am (#

    What a fun combination! Love the color!

  2. EA-The Spicy RD June 17, 2011 @ 8:54 am (#

    Beautiful sorbet, and I’m sure it tastes delicious too! I grew up reading the Little House on the Prarie books too. Good memories!

  3. merry jennifer June 17, 2011 @ 12:47 pm (#

    Gorgeous photos, Liren. I love the combination of flavors you went for with this sorbet – basil and cherry are two of my favorites.

    I loved reading Little House on the Prairie when I was growing up. After reading your post, I think I really need to introduce my daughter to it.

  4. Jean June 17, 2011 @ 4:59 pm (#

    Liren, it seems we both had sorbet in mind this week. I had trouble photographing mine and didn’t wait long enough until it set properly in the freezer but yours looks perfect. I like the flavor combo here. Very season-appropriate with a dash of sophistication. :-)

  5. pachecopatty June 17, 2011 @ 5:07 pm (#

    Beautiful sorbet and I love the sweet basil infused simple syrup, yum- I bet it was good with the cherries;-)

  6. Tiffany June 17, 2011 @ 5:47 pm (#

    What an elegant dessert!

  7. Georgie June 17, 2011 @ 5:49 pm (#

    I love when food is laced with memories and shared through family generations. I especially love that you’re creating a recipe and it’s a keepsake for your daughter, she will cherish all of these forever. Great read, photo’s and supper yummy recipe.

    • Liren replied: — June 18th, 2011 @ 8:48 pm

      Thank you, Georgie!

  8. Gina June 17, 2011 @ 7:48 pm (#

    I love that you added the basil, you are trying to drive me back to the cherry fields aren’t you. Luckily we have a few more weeks of them, can’t wait to try this now that I have an ice cream maker. What a sweet story, I loved working in the classroom. Hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day weekend.

    • Liren replied: — June 18th, 2011 @ 8:49 pm

      Hope you have a wonderful weekend, too, Gina! If you return to the cherry fields, have fun; we loved the cherries you brought to the brunch at Jeans!

  9. Spicy Green Mango June 17, 2011 @ 8:09 pm (#

    Awe, lovely indeed Liren! Yum! Summer is finally upon us and it feels so great for sorbet!

    • Liren replied: — June 18th, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

      Yay for summer, Ms Spicy! Finally!

  10. Winnie June 17, 2011 @ 8:47 pm (#

    I love this Liren! I am going to add this recipe to the spring recipe round-up I posted on my blog earlier today ;)

    • Liren replied: — June 18th, 2011 @ 8:49 pm

      Thanks Winnie! Such an amazing round-up of recipes, I appreciate it!

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  12. The Cilantropist June 18, 2011 @ 12:05 am (#

    Liren reading this post brought a smile to my face, I love remembering days of childhood and I LOVED little house on the prairie! <3 I used to read it with my dad, so bringing up that memory is especially perfect for this weekend. Beautiful recipe.

    • Liren replied: — June 18th, 2011 @ 8:47 pm

      Aw, what a sweet, sweet dad! Not many men I know have read Little House – that is such a precious memory, Amanda!

  13. June 18, 2011 @ 12:32 am (#

    What a fantastic combination – love it! Must try this, as I have too many cherries just now and am fed up with jam. Basil plant just sitting there so why didn’t I think? Love your creativity.
    I can just imagine that feeling, seeing your daughter’s friend with that dress. Funny déjà-vous…

    • Liren replied: — June 18th, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

      Ha ha, now that I’ve had my fill of sorbet, now I think I want to make some jam!

  14. Hopey June 18, 2011 @ 4:54 am (#

    I very much want to make this and the basil is a fine addition! What a sweet story, too. My mom used to tell me she got the lipstick effect from beets when she was little. :)

    • Liren replied: — June 18th, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

      I love it! So cute how little girls know where to find natural forms of make up :)

  15. Jen @Tiny Urban Kitchen June 18, 2011 @ 6:23 am (#

    Oh Liren – I love this post and the memories it brings back! I totally remember loving certain dresses and enjoying sweet, colorful desserts as a child too. :) I love the idea of fresh cherry sorbet!

    • Liren replied: — June 18th, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

      Hi Jen, thanks! I know – as I was eating this sorbet, I realized all those ices we grew up on were probably just all chemicals, sadly. This is just so much better!

  16. Monet June 18, 2011 @ 6:38 am (#

    What a great post…I, too, grew up loving Little House on the Prairie, and I can’t wait to read it to my own daughter one day. And this sorbet? Stunning! Thank you for sharing such yummy photos and this tasty recipe. I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    • Liren replied: — June 18th, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

      Hi Monet, happy weekend to you, too! What little girl doesn’t love Little House? I was so happy she loved it as much as our generation.

  17. Meghan June 18, 2011 @ 9:47 am (#

    Love the color! Great idea adding the basil

  18. A Canadian Foodie June 18, 2011 @ 6:47 pm (#

    You must have been reading my mind, Liren! I actually had your sorbet opened for half a day trying to read it – the recipe sounded so good. And I think it would be tasty! I love making unusual flavours of cold treats!
    I left a note for you on my site regarding the importance of school gardens:
    Wonderful to hear from you! It is so important. You have young children, and believe me, they will eat what they grow just like my students eat what they cook. They turn their noses up at suggestions, or at some of the ingredients they see going into a recipe, and the agreement is “one small taste”. Ninety-nine percent of the time they not only like it, they love it! It is the same with “their garden”. When they plant it, they eat it with all the magic and wonder and awe we all used to possess….

    • Liren replied: — June 18th, 2011 @ 8:44 pm

      Hi Valerie! Yes, you’re so right – I do find that in general the more involved the children are in all aspects of cooking, the more they feel ownership, even if it’s not a food they want to try :) I must get a garden growing soon!

  19. Roxana GreenGirl June 18, 2011 @ 8:13 pm (#

    what a sweet post Liren. my daughter is too young for Little house on the Prairie, I’m looking forward to read to her soon.
    The sorbet sounds great, love the addition of basil. What a delicious combo.
    Thanks for sharing and Happy Birthday!

    • Liren replied: — June 18th, 2011 @ 8:43 pm

      Thanks for the birthday greetings, Roxana! One day, your little girl will be ready for Little House, and you’ll find that it’s also a wonderful way to explore life’s lessons – lots of teaching moments in that book :)

  20. renee@sweetsugarbean June 18, 2011 @ 10:51 pm (#

    I LOVE the “Little House” series too – I stayed up many a night reading into the wee hours when I was a kid. Your sorbet looks amazing – basil and cherries, what a perfect combo!

  21. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen June 19, 2011 @ 1:42 am (#

    I grew up reading Little House on the Prairie too! It’s such a classic. I like your “grown -up” version of cherry sorbet, the basil is a wonderful addition.

  22. Jenn June 19, 2011 @ 4:20 am (#

    This looks so refreshing, and what a perfect combination! I’ve never put basil and cherry together but see them marrying so well. Love your “grown up” Italian ice :)

  23. Russell at Chasing Delicious June 20, 2011 @ 7:05 pm (#

    This recipe looks scrumptious. I am always looking for new sorbets and ice creams. This may take the cake from what I have seen so far.

    Great shots too!

    • Liren replied: — June 30th, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

      Thank you, Russell, your kind words mean a lot!

  24. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts June 20, 2011 @ 7:23 pm (#

    What a great idea to put Basil with the sorbet! Sounds creamy and delicious!

  25. Kevin (Closet Cooking) June 22, 2011 @ 1:50 am (#

    That sorbet looks so good! I like the sound of the cherry and basil combo.

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  27. norma July 11, 2011 @ 10:53 am (#

    I guess we all owned one of those dresses. Lovely story and I must say the addition of basil is quite intersting….

  28. Kim Bee October 5, 2012 @ 7:06 pm (#

    I must try this one. I am such a sucker for ice creams and sorbets. Love anything cherry so this would make me swoon for sure.

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