For Washington’s Birthday: Easy Cherry Sherbet from the 1930s

Cherry pudding doneThe 1930s – the era that brought us the Great Depression as well as an end to Prohibition – also brought us some of our most enduring kitchen convenience products, such as Miracle Whip and Bisquick. This was also the decade when many American homeowners purchased their first electric refrigerator and freezer. Flexible metal ice cube trays, also introduced in the 1930s, put drinks on the rocks within easy reach.

Metal ice cube trays figure prominently in the handwritten Cherry Sherbet from my Richmond grandmother’s handwritten recipe files. With just four ingredients, the recipe is easy and it must have helped baffled homemakers figure out how to use their new freezers. Today, it’s appealing because it’s low fat (a cup of evaporated milk contains just 5 calories from fat). You can also vary the flavors according to the fruit preserves that you have on hand. Here’s the recipe just in time for George Washington’s birthday on February 22 – though Mount Vernon’s encyclopedia notes that there is no evidence that George Washington ever chopped his father’s cherry tree and then confessed his misdeed.

Cherry pudding bowl.jpgCherry Sherbet (1930s)
Makes about 1 quart

1 cup evaporated milk
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup cherry preserves
Pinch salt

  1. Chill canned milk in the freezer until ice crystals begin to form (in ice box tray). [I poured the milk into a metal mixing bowl, put it in the freezer, and chilled it for about 1 hour].
  2. Whip the milk until it becomes stiff.
  3. Fold in the lemon juice, cherry preserves and salt.
  4. Pour into a freezing tray [I used an 8-by-8-inch metal baking pan] and freeze in the automatic refrigerator [About 2 hours].
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About heritagerecipebox

I am named after my great-grandmother, who only prepared two dishes, according to anyone who remembers: hamburgers shaped like squares and peanut butter sandwiches. Fast forward 100 years and 500 miles north from my hometown of Richmond, Virginia to Boston, Massachusetts. Somehow, I ended up with a cooking gene as well as an interest in history and family stories. I have worked as a journalist and published three cookbooks plus a memoir. This blog gives me a chance to share family recipes and stories -- and other American recipes with a past. What do you have to share?
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