Milk Sherbet, 1942–A Mid-Century Recipe Test

Posted on Jun 1 2016 - 4:55am by RetroRuth

It’s been hot around here lately, so this week we decided to make a frozen treat.


This is milk sherbet.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Milk Sherbet
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  1. Mix juice and sugar, add milk slowly, stirring constantly (if milk is added too rapidly the mixture will have a curdles appearance). Freeze, using 6 to 8 parts ice to one part rock salt. (We halved the recipe and made it in a modern ice cream maker.)

Milk Sherbet001

This recipe comes from a book that I received for my birthday from Tom’s folks.  It’s called Food for Home and Trade and it is a textbook/cookbook from the Girls’ Trades and Technical High School in Milwaukee Wisconsin from 1942.  I love this book!!  I’m a big fan of home economics cookbooks in general, but I am especially excited about this one.  I’ve done a quick once-over, but it deserves a much closer look.  Not only does it give directions and specifications (doneness, color, texture) for food, but it also gives the reasons why they need to be served that way.  I’m very interested in their reasons and standards for gelatin molds.

In any case, I decided to give the ice cream maker a workout this week and I was really interested to see if this mixture would curdle when mixed together.  Tom came and looked over my shoulder while I was mixing.


“Are you mixing milk and a bunch of lemon juice?”


“There is no way this is going to work.”

“We’ll see, I guess.”




“How is it?”


The Verdict: Delicious

From the Tasting Notes –

This was surprisingly good, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it is actually genius.  I really enjoy the lemon ice smoothies at Culver’s, which are basically frozen lemonade and custard mixed together.  This milk sherbet tastes a lot like those, but is much simpler to make.  It was sweet and very mild.  Tasted a little bit like frozen yogurt because of the slight tang.  Not creamy, more of a crystalline texture.  The lemon flavor is mostly absorbed by the whole milk.  Alex said it “Tastes really good,” so it also got her vote.  Woulc be excellent with fresh berries.

*Note: This mixes together and froze well, but it did curdle when it became melty.  So do not let this melt and try to refreeze it!

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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (, No Pattern Required (, and I Ate The 80's (

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10 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Becky T June 1, 2016 at 10:56 am - Reply

    Well Heck…. now I have to go dig out the ice cream maker!
    This looks way to good (and simple) to miss

  2. Beth Anne June 1, 2016 at 11:48 am - Reply

    This sounds quite good! We are having out of town guests in a couple of weeks and I might have to make this for them!

  3. Becky June 1, 2016 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    That does look good. I may try to find that book!

  4. Lynn Bacon June 1, 2016 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    Great recipe! I grew up with a similar sherbet…made in a hand-cranked freezer for many years until we got an electric one! I still make it, and receive raves from everyone! It tastes like childhood to me. Orangeade, lemon juice, pineapple juice, sugar, evaporated milk, whole milk. It is crisp, tangy, and light while also creamy.

  5. Poppy June 2, 2016 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    I hope you post more from that book. I love old home ec textbooks too, but I haven’t had much luck finding them. Just picked up one from 1927 at Half Price Books last weekend, so I’m digging into it now.

  6. zydny June 6, 2016 at 10:22 am - Reply

    This sounds kinda like the delicious lemon ice cream that my neighbors make with their homegrown Meyer lemons.

    I’m curious about the “whole” milk, though. In 1942, that would have meant milk as it came from the cow–in other words, milk with cream. Wonder how that would change the results. Could be even tastier!.

  7. Rachel June 15, 2016 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    Going to try this recipe. If you love old cookbooks, give a try. They tend to have older cookbooks from the turn of the century, but I’ve spent HOURS poring over these great recipes. 🙂

  8. SkyGuy June 15, 2016 at 10:07 pm - Reply

    Erica actually found a recipe similar to this one a couple years ago, but it uses cream instead of milk, lemon peel for texture, and doesn’t need an ice cream machine.
    I tried it one before and it was also delicious!

  9. Alan C June 20, 2016 at 3:38 pm - Reply

    What kind of ice cream maker did you use? We have a Kitchenaid ice cream maker and I’m wondering if/how I’d need to alter the recipe.

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