Victorian dessert tables invariably included ices. There were three main types: cream ice (ice cream), water ice (modern-day sorbet) and sorbet (water ice with the addition of quite a lot of liqueur or hard spirits). They were often served in elaborate moulds, with water ice in particular lending itself to very intricate designs. Much use was made of food colouring to achieve a really spectacular result. After all, the main meal was over: dessert was intended as a digestive aid, not a belly filler.
Peel the cucumber, halve it lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon (discard them). Chop it into chunks and put it in a saucepan with half the sugar and all the measured water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until tender (about 15 minutes).
Put the mixture in a blender and purée. Add the ginger wine or brandy, the lemon juice and a little green colouring – you want it to be pleasantly green, rather than scarily fluorescent. Chill.
Whip the cream and remaining sugar in a large bowl to form soft peaks. Fold in the chilled cucumber mix. Put this mixture into an ice-cream maker and churn until it is stiff. If you want to mould it, spoon it into a plain mould and freeze until you are ready to turn it out. The
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