French poet, novelist and playwright, Victor Hugo, once wrote, “Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart”. I dote on this lovely sentiment, even though, reality feels more like a quote from Welsch poet, George Herbert who said, “Every mile, is two, in winter”. Cold and dark, winter is my fourth favorite season. If forced to cast a ballot, I’d vote winter off the island.
Well…okay, I take that back.
I adore, in particular, exactly two, things about winter. One: the peak of the citrus season. Two: dungeness crab, and more dungeness crab (but I’ll save that for another time). Back to the citrus. My parents sent us a gigantic crate of juice-filled oranges and grapefruits, from a grower in Texas they’ve been loyal customers to for years. It landed at our doorstep the day before Christmas, and our juicer has been working over-time ever since. Even a simple breakfast of toast and jam, feels like something special, when accompanied by a tall, handsome glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. But nothing, absolutely nothing, tops my love for satsumas. These miniature oranges, or mandarins, become the go-to snack around the house this time of year. The bite of each wedge is like a small burst of sunshine. A filled bowl, is quickly, an empty one.
For me, satsumas are perfect, just as they are. So, imagine my excitement when I discovered their perfection could be pushed upward, yet, another notch. Forget a burst of sunshine! When I had my first spoonful of this satsuma sorbet, a supernova literally exploded in my mouth. The operatic sweet-tart balancing act deserves a standing ovation, and with each spoonful, spring feels closer. Who ever said icy treats should only be enjoyed in the middle of July? (And who knew my affection for pineapple sorbet could be surpassed so soon)? As far as winter is concerned, I won’t cast my vote – just yet. She’s making a fierce comeback, and I suspect, Victor Hugo knew about this sorbet, long before I did.
SATSUMA SORBET, yields approximate 1 quart
Tweaked from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, Andrea Nguyen
Dial back on the sugar for the simple syrup, if you enjoy things more tart than sweet. Likewise, you can leave the measurements as is, and stir in 3/4 of the simple syrup first. Taste, and then proceed to add the remainder, a bit at a time, until your desired sweetness is reached. Don’t forget to save a few satsuma peels, dry them in a cold oven for a few days, and once completely dried, pop them into a ziploc for future use.
Music Pairing: Aretha Franklin, Hello Sunshine
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 2 1/2 cups fresh satsuma juice (about 14-16 fruits, depending on size)
- 6 tbsp fresh lime juice
To make simple syrup, whisk together sugar and water in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil for about 30 seconds, or until sugar is dissolved and mixture is clear. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Stir together simple syrup, satsuma juice, and lime juice. Taste and add more lime juice if needed to create a strong sweet-tart balance. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve positioned over a medium sized bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 24 hours to chill well and allow for flavors to develop.
Freeze mixture in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Eat right away if you like your sorbet on the softer side. For an icier treat, leave it in the freezer for 3-4 hours before serving.