Hibernating with orange flower-buttermilk sorbet

What to do with the three-quarters of a quart of Maple View Farm buttermilk sitting in the refrigerator? Though I am the type to drink it, I decided to make sorbet — something to share. I was headed to my friend Cathy's house for dinner and a movie, and dessert was in order. Rather than stick with the ever popular buttermilk-lemon combination, I opted to use the orange flower water that's been sitting in my pantry for eons (alongside an almost identical pretty blue bottle of rosewater).

Orange flower water has a floral quality that makes a nice counterpoint to buttermilk's rich, slightly sour flavor. Combined with simple syrup for sweetness and brightened with a few drops of fresh lemon juice, the sorbet was a big success. Cathy and I enjoyed a quiet evening with a few episodes of HBO's New Orleans drama Treme, bowls in hand. I highly recommend both. 

Note: I added orange zest to the sorbet for color and flavor, but it should be considered optional — the sorbet would be good without it. If you opt for pretty orange flecks, add them after your sorbet is frozen, stirring it into the finished product as it comes out of the ice cream machine. Zest sometimes catches on the mixing paddle of the ice cream maker, forming a big clump rather than the evenly dispersed look you're going for. 

Look for orange flower water in Middle Eastern stores or the ethnic section of an upscale grocery like Whole Foods. You can also order it (and rosewater) from Amazon. I'm a big fan of the frozen canister type ice cream makers made for home use — they come in 1 and 2-quart sizes, and you can buy an extra canister or two if you make lots of frozen desserts.

Orange Flower - Buttermilk Sorbet
Makes about 1 quart

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange flower water
zest of 1 orange, finely grated

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then turn off the heat and set the simple syrup aside to cool. 

When the syrup is room temperature, combine it with the buttermilk, lemon juice and orange flower water to create the sorbet base. Chill for at least one hour, then freeze according to your ice cream machine's instructions. Add the orange zest to the sorbet after removing it from the machine and freeze for up to 1 month.


  1. Beautiful and delicious! I'm not a big fan of rosewater but orange flower water sounds lovely.

  2. All right, I've been thinking about it for awhile, but now I'm really going to have to go and get some orange flower water. This sounds like a wonderful combination of flavors.

  3. Beautiful flavours!

  4. Lemon Gloria - I hear you on the rosewater. I like it more than I used to, but I can't handle it in large quantity (though I guess we aren't supposed to).

    Jenny - Orange flower water fun to experiment with - I've found it's best to go easy, as too much of a floral bouquet can be off-putting.

    Ellie - Thanks. The sorbet really came out well!

  5. Wow, what a nice combination of flavors...the color is so pretty, so elegant.

  6. Yum, this sounds so good and I love orange flower water but do not take advantage of it nearly enough.