Classification and description
Sorbet is often confused with Italian ice or water ice, and it is often taken to be the same as sherbet.
Sorbets/sherbets may also contain alcohol, which lowers the freezing temperature, resulting in a softer texture. In the UK, sherbet refers to a fizzy powder, and only the term sorbet would be used.
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 (like frozen yogurt) is served as 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)
In US American usage, sorbet and sherbet are distinctly different products. For Americans, sherbet (alternatively spelled sherbert) is the more widely-known term and typically designates a fruity flavored frozen dairy product with a milkfat content less than 3%. Sorbet, on the other hand, is considered by Americans to be a fruity frozen product with little to no dairy content, similar to Italian ice.
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 are defined as ice cream; products with lower milkfat content are defined as water ice. The use of the term "sorbet" is unregulated and is most commonly used with non-dairy, fruit juice "italian ice" products. Although the American legal definitions indicate that the terms "sorbet" and sherbet are interchangeable, actual usage by Americans and the manufacturers of these products bear a clear distinction. A similar situation occurs in the legal definitions by differing international state governments on what is considered beer.
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.
One account says that Marco Polo brought a recipe for a sorbet-like dessert on his way back to Italy from China in the late 13th Century, as written in an account of his journey, The Travels of Marco Polo. 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.
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 of sorbet include Blue Raspberry, Blood Orange, Cherry, Chocolate, Coconut, Key Lime, Lemon, Lychee, Mango, Mint, Orange, Peach, Pineapple, Raspberry, Rose, Strawberry, Vanilla, Watermelon, Wine, and several mixed flavours.
Popsicle (Ice Pop)
Agraz in Larousse Gastronomique, US edition. ISBN 0517570327
^ sherbet Definition in the Food Dictionary at Epicurious.com
^ Dictionary.com Definition of Sherbet
^ FDA > CDRH > CFR Title 21 Database Search
^ IDFA - What's in the Ice Cream Aisle
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