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Raspberry sorbet
Type Frozen dessert
Main ingredients Water, sugar, flavoring (fruit juice or purée, wine, or liqueur, and very rarely honey)
Cookbook: Sorbet  Media: Sorbet
Strawberry sorbet

Sorbet is a frozen dessert made from sweetened water with flavoring (typically fruit juice or fruit purée, wine, liqueur, or very rarely, honey).

Classification and variants

Sorbet is often confused with Italian ice and often taken to be the same as (American) sherbet (see below).

In the UK and Australia, sherbet refers to a fizzy powder type of sweet. (The variant pronunciation /ˈʃɜːrbərt/ is so common in all kinds of English that the corresponding spelling sherbert makes up about a quarter of the examples found in the Oxford English Corpus.)

Sorbets and American sherbets may also contain alcohol, which lowers the freezing temperature, resulting in softer texture.[1]

Whereas ice cream is based on dairy products with air copiously whipped in, sorbet has neither, which makes for a dense and extremely flavorful product. Sorbet is served as a non-fat or low-fat alternative to ice cream.

In Italy, a similar though crunchier textured dish called granita is made. As the liquid in granita freezes it forms noticeably large-size crystals, which are left unstirred. Granita is also often sharded with a fork to give an even crunchier texture when served.

Agraz is a type of sorbet, usually associated with the Maghreb and north Africa. It is made from almonds, verjuice, and sugar. It has a strongly acidic flavour, because of the verjuice. (Larousse Gastronomique)

Givré (French for "frosted") is the term for a sorbet served in a frozen coconut shell or fruit peel, such as a lemon peel.

Early history and folklore

The Western word sorbet is derived from the Arabic word Sharbat which means fragrant mashed fruit drink.[2] The word Sharbat exists in Hindi-Urdu and many Indian languages, and describe the many varieties of the drink still popular throughout the Indian diaspora. The roots of the word are also found in a diverse set of Indo-European languages, including Greek and Persian for example.[3] The English word sherbet entered English directly from the Turkish variant, in the early 17th century.

This sweet drink, traditionally prepared with fruit and flower petals, has a long and rich history. At one time it was as popular as cola is today, prevalent throughout West and South Asia and the Middle East, from Turkey to Iran to Afghanistan. In Ottoman culture, sherbet is the focus of many anecdotes, as are many Ottoman dishes. One is about an Ottoman vizer who, when he found he had displeased his sultan, was served a glass of sherbet by the Sultan's Bostanbasi, an elite squad of gardener-executioners. The sherbet was used to inform him of his fate; if it was white, he would live; if it was red, he knew he was a condemned man. Another popular story concerns sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, said to be a huge fan of Sherbet. The story is, on a hot day while inspecting the janissary quarters, he ordered sherbet to cool himself off. He was so pleased with the Janissaries' preparation, he is said to have returned to them his empty glass filled with gold. This started an annual tradition, where the Janissaries would return their empty cups, every time expecting gold in return. Even the sultan's wife, the famous Roxelana, has one named after her. Sherbet was one of the most important features of a grand Ottoman banquet. Folklore has it, that in 1573 alone almost one tonne of white rose sherbet was produced, with all the necessary fruits and flowers provided by the palace gardens. In the Ottoman hey-day, sherbet was sold by a serbetci who would carry a large brass flask on their back, and serve sherbet in cups from its long nozzle.[4]

European folklore has it that Nero, the Roman Emperor, invented sorbet during the first century AD when he had runners along the Appian Way pass buckets of snow, hand over hand, from the mountains to his banquet hall, where it was then mixed with honey and wine.

Distinction from sherbet

American terminology

In the United States, sherbet and sorbet are different products. For Americans, sherbet typically designates a flavored, frozen, dairy product which is usually fruity with a minimal butterfat content,[5] while sorbet is considered to be a fruity frozen product with no dairy content, similar to Italian ice.[6][7]

Sherbet in the United States must include dairy ingredients such as milk or cream to reach a milkfat content between 1% and 2%. Products with higher milkfat content of 10% or higher are defined as ice cream, while those between 2% and 10% milkfat are termed "frozen dairy dessert"; products with lower milkfat content and not using any milk or cream ingredients, and no egg ingredients other than the egg white, are defined as water ice.[8] Use of the term sorbet is unregulated and is most commonly used with non-dairy, fruit juice water ice products.[9]

British terminology

In British English the term "sherbet" refers to a fizzy powder used in confectionery, and not a frozen dessert.

Central and Western Asia terminology

A Central Asian Sherbet with nuts

In Central and Western Asia, sherbet is not an ice cream; rather, it has a solid state.[10]

Canadian terminology

In Canada[11] , Sorbet, which is known as Sherbet, is defined as a frozen food; rather than ice cream or ice milk which is made from a milk product. A typical Canadian Sherbet possibly contains water, a sweetening agent, fruit or fruit juice, citric or tartaric acid, flavouring preparation, food colour, sequestering agent, lactose. Also, it may contain not more than 0.75% of stabilizing agent, not more than 0.5% microcrystalline cellulose, and not more than 1% added edible casein or edible caseinates. However, it shall contain not more than 5% milk solids which including milk fat, and not less than 0.35% acid that determined by titration and expressed as lactic acid.

All of the above criteria are needed for the product to be considered as sherbet in Canada which is regulated by the Government of Canada under The Food and Drug Regulations.

See also




  1. ^ Falkowitz, Max. "The Science of the Best Sorbet". Serious Eats. Archived from the original on 2017-03-23. Retrieved 4 July 2017. 
  2. ^ sorbet @ Archived 2013-01-20 at the Wayback Machine. (in French language). Also the New English Dictionary on Historical Principles entries for sorbet Archived 2014-01-02 at the Wayback Machine. and sherbet Archived 2016-08-09 at the Wayback Machine. sorbetto @ Archived 2013-01-20 at the Wayback Machine..
  3. ^ "Etimologia : sorbire". 2007-02-08. Archived from the original on 2014-08-08. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-04-22. Retrieved 2017-03-24. 
  5. ^ "Requirements for Specific Standardized Frozen Desserts". 2013-04-01. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  6. ^ Gallery, Christine (12 June 2017). "What's the Difference Between Sherbet and Sorbet?". The Kitchn. Archived from the original on 2017-02-12. Retrieved 4 July 2017. 
  7. ^ Walcerz, Marysia (13 June 2017). "Sorbet Vs. Italian Ice". Live Strong. Archived from the original on 2016-11-06. Retrieved 4 July 2017. 
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-06-08. Retrieved 2007-09-12. 
  9. ^ "What's in the Ice Cream Aisle". International Dairy Foods Association. 2013-10-24. Archived from the original on 2015-08-29. Retrieved 2015-08-31. 
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-26. Retrieved 2011-06-25. 
  11. ^ Branch, Legislative Services. "Consolidated federal laws of canada, Food and Drug Regulations". Retrieved 2017-07-19. 
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