These two words are commonly interchanged when it comes to this sweet frozen dessert. But though similar, sorbet and sherbet pertain to two different things. Thekitchn.com concisely differentiates them this way: sorbet is “just fruit and sugar” while sherbet is “fruit and cream.”
Sorbet is said to be one of the earliest frozen desserts and an earlier variation of our beloved ice cream. Accounts can be traced back to the Roman Empire, when its emperor Nero was said to have sent slaves to the mountains to collect snow and to solidify or freeze their drinks, to which they added fruit juice and honey.
Sorbet & Sherbet Trivia
- Antonio Latini published a two-volume book in 1692 and 1694 titled “Lo Scalco Alla Moderna or The Modern Steward.” This contains recipes of sorbets and iced waters, making him the first person to write about this in detail. The sorbetto recipe in this manifest is said to be the oldest recipe on record for a dessert. He is also credited for making the first official ice cream, with his milk sorbet recipe.
- Sherbet, according to accounts, can be traced back to the Ottoman Empire. Alexander the Great is said to have served this dessert made from fruit and flower petals.
- Another ruler of the Ottoman Empire, Suleiman the Magnificent is said to have used it for another function. He was said to have used two colors of sorbet to tell the fate of his advisor. If white sherbet is given, it meant the advisor would live and if a red sherbet, let’s just say color matches the advisor’s fate.
Sorbet & Sherbet Buying Guide
Sorbets are almost usually dairy-free and fat-free, and is just made of three ingredients: fruit, sugar, and water, which are churned in an ice cream maker. Meanwhile, sherbets are somewhat of a cross between sorbet and ice cream. Sherbet is a fruit-based dessert that usually contains milk, cream, or sometimes, even egg white, gelatin, or buttermilk.
These are often sold in dessert shops, or confectionaries and creameries. Restaurants also often carry sorbets in their menu as a dessert or palate cleanser.
Sorbet & Sherbet Production & Farming in Texas
Anyone can easily grab a cup (or more!) of sorbets and sherbets at ice cream or gelato shops, as well as any dessert place. Commercially processed sherbets and sorbets are also easily available in the frozen or dessert section of groceries or supermarkets. Locally, artisan producers have sprouted, who use fruits fresh and ingredients from the farm to make their concoction as natural and healthy as they can be.
Preservatives, Chemicals and Additives
In theory, sorbets do not contain any chemicals or additives, as it only contains fruits or fruit purees, sugar and water. But when using store-bought or processed purees or artificial sweeteners or syrups, that’s when the realness of this dessert gets compromised.
Looking for wholesome sherbets follow the same rule: sherbets should contain a small number of ingredients, and no unknown substances listed on the ingredients list.
When bought in bulk instead of per serving, sorbets and sherbets are usually placed in tubs or cups (in pints, or quarts) made of polystyrene or plastic. Some also use laminated paper packaging.
Enjoying Sorbets & Sherbets
Sorbets and sherbets are great dessert options, especially on a hot summer day! But in the early times, it is tagged as a luxury as access to ice was only limited to the wealthy class. It has carried on its fancy tag through the years, being served in restaurants as dessert and palate cleanser between meals. This helps do away any strong flavors or grease before starting on the next course or ending the meal.
But of course, anything this good must be available for everyone! Brands have also come up with store-bought and commercially processed sorbets and sherbets that people can just easily grab off the shelf!
Sorbets and sherbets must be in airtight containers and placed on the freezer. It is also a good practice to put a plastic wrap on the surface of the ice cream before the lid to prevent ice crystals from forming and to keep it from being contaminated from other odors in the freezer. Also, avoid putting the sorbet and sherbet container on the door of the freezer. Opening and closing of the freezer will cause the temperature to fluctuate and the constant thawing and refreezing will compromise the quality and texture of your fave dessert!
It is said that if the frozen sorbet is kept constantly frozen at zero degrees Fahrenheit, it will maintain its best quality for 2 to 4 months. Commercially made sorbets and sherbets however have a “Best By” date, which pertains to the period of time these desserts are estimated to be at their peak quality. For homemade sorbets, it is said to generally keep for a month in the freezer before getting too icy.
Homemade Sorbets and Sherbets
TheKitchen.com published a general guide on making a sorbet using fruits, water, sugar and lemon juice!
- 4 to 5 cups of fresh fruit (after prepping and slicing)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1 to 4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Prepare the fruit by removing rinds, peels, pits, seeds, stems or any non-edible parts. Slice it into bite sized pieces.
- In a saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat while gently stirring about once or twice. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- Using a blender or food processor, combine the fruit and about half of the cooled syrup. Reserve the other half of the syrup.
- Process and blend until the mixture is completely liquified and no more chunks or any seeds remain. You may use a fine-mesh strainer to completely remove any solids from the mixture.
- Stir in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and add more depending on your preference.
- Chill the sorbet base in the refrigerator for at least an hour to overnight.
- Churn the sorbet base for about 10 to 15 minutes or until it reaches the consistency of a thick smoothie.
- Transfer to containers and freeze at least 4 hours or until the sorbet is hardened.
Food Network’s Alton Brown has his own take (and an easy-to-follow one!) on making an orange sherbet!
- 7 ounces sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons finely grated orange zest
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups very cold whole milk
- Combine all of the ingredients, except the milk, in a food processor and process until the sugar is dissolved. This takes approximately a minute.
- Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk in the cold milk.
- Cover and store in the refrigerator. The mixture should reach 40 degrees Fahrenheit and below, or at least about an hour.
- Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process until it has the consistency of a soft-serve ice cream.
- At this point, the sherbet can be served already or store in the freezer for about 3 hours, until the mixture gets firm.