Litchi and Lemon Sorbet

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This sorbet is fruity and fresh (and vegan!)

Litchi was always a prominent feature of my childhood and I would wait for the season when my dad with return with a bunch, literally a bunch of litchis on their branches with leaves, bought fresh from a roadside vendor. He also had the unenviable task of peeling them for me – all that was left for me to do was relish in the fruity joys of summer.

Alas, all that remains is now a fond memory – fresh litchis in Cape Town are a lot scarcer than in Durban. You can then imagine my delight when I happened to stumble across them at one of our local markets one weekend. “Freshly flown in from Durban” , as the lady selling them put it.

All too excited at the sight, I immediately grabbed a bunch – had a moment of self-doubt – and then swiftly proceeded to grab another. It turns out the second one was one too many, and I had to find use for it in a dessert. Challenge accepted!

Synonymous with summer is also ice cream, but wanting to keep the recipe ingredients minimal and low maintenance, I opted for a sorbet rather than an ice cream. The litchi flavour was rather subtle and I wanted something really bright and refreshing, so paired it with my most loved zing of lemon which really dances when it hits your pallet.

You freeze the litchis, make a syrup, blitz everything together and freeze! It really could not be easier.

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  • Is it necessary to freeze the fruit before blitzing it? Yes, the fruit contains a fair amount of water and freezing it first ensures that when you refreeze it, it sets up firm. If you were to blitz the fresh fruit with the syrup, it would not set in the freezer.
  • Can you use sugar instead of glucose? You can, but your sorbet will not be a smooth and creamy. Sugar syrup is not very thick. Glucose syrup, on the other hand, is viscous, and adds a rich, full-bodied texture to your sorbet. A thicker sorbet base implies one which is creamier. If you want to use sugar, use 200g sugar and 250ml water to make a syrup, then add it to the frozen fruit and churn.
  • Can I omit the vodka in the recipe? Yes. Alcohol reduces the freezing point of the sorbet, which means it does not freeze rock hard. If you omit the vodka, it may have a less smooth mouthfeel.
  • Some recipes make sorbet from only the fruit alone. How is that? Many canned fruits such as peaches, pineapples and even litchis are preserved in a simple syrup. So all you need to do is blitz the fruit together and freeze the blitzed fruit until solid. Then blitz again and viola – you have sorbet. This is not as smooth and a bit more icy than the sorbet made with glucose syrup.


  • 450g fresh or canned litchis, syrup drained if using a can
  • 80ml lemon juice
  • 60ml vodka
  • 180g glucose syrup


  1. Remove the peels of the litchis, deseed and place in the freezer for at least 12 hours until frozen.
  2. Once frozen, place the vodka, lemon juice and glucose syrup in a small saucepan on medium heat, until the glucose has melted and the syrup begins to bubble.
  3. Let it cool down until tepid.
  4. Place the frozen litchis in a blender or food processor and add the syrup to it.
  5. Blitz until you have a slushy mixture. The mixture will be more lose, as opposed to thick.
  6. Pour into a freezer safe container and freezer for 8 hours, ideally overnight.
  7. When ready to serve, remove the sorbet from the freezer five minutes prior.

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