[sawr-bit, sawr-bey; Fr. sawr-be]

Sorbet is a frozen dessert made from sweetened water flavored with iced fruit (typically juice or puree), chocolate, wine, and/or liqueur. The origins of sorbet can be traced to a Middle Eastern drink charbet, made of sweetened fruit juice and water. The term "sherbet" / "charbet" is derived from şerbat/şerbet, "sorbet", which in turn comes from the Arabic شربات meaning "drink(s)" or "juice." .

Classification and Description

Sorbet is often confused with Water Ice, Italian ice, and Sherbet. The FDA does not have a classification for sorbet as it is a synonym for sherbet. Sherbet in the United States must also include dairy ingredients such as milk or cream to reach a milkfat content between 1% and 2%. Products with higher milkfat content are defined as ice cream; products with lower milkfat content are defined as water ice. Although the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably in the United States, the use of the term "sorbet" is unregulated and is most commonly used with non-dairy, fruit juice "water ice" products.

The word "Sorbet" (pron. ) is French (pron. sɔʀˈbɛ) for the Ottoman Turkish word "Sherbet". Sorbets/sherbets may also contain alcohol, which lowers the freezing temperature, resulting in a softer texture. In North America, sherbet is often written and spelled sherbert.

Whereas ice cream has air whipped into it, sorbet has almost none, which makes for a dense and extremely flavourful product. Sorbet is served as a non-fat or low-fat (sometimes 3% fat) alternative to ice cream.

In Italy a virtually identical dish called granita is made, which is only really different from sorbet in that it has a crunchier texture because of the freezing process. As the liquid freezes, it forms noticeably large-size crystals, which should not be present in sorbet because of the stirring. 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)

Early History and Folklore

Folklore holds that Nero, the Roman Emperor, invented sorbet during the first century A.D. 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. The Chinese have made concoctions from snow, juice, and fruit pulp for several thousand years.

Frozen desserts are believed to have been brought to France in 1533 by Catherine de' Medici when she left Italy to marry the Duke of Orleans, who later became Henry II of France. By the end of the 17th century, sorbet was served in the streets of Paris, and spread to England and the rest of Europe.

English/French Labeling

On sherbet packages which have both English and French labels, sherbet is translated to sorbet laitier which directly translates into English as dairy sorbet, differentiating the milk containing sherbet from milk-less sorbet.

Popular Flavours

or mixed flavours

See also


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