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

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

Classification and variants[edit]

Sorbet is often confused with water 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.[citation needed]

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[edit]

The word "sorbet" is derived from the Arabic word "Sharbat" (fragrant mashed fruit drink).[1] However, the root is present in such Indo-European languages as Greek and Persian for example.[2] The English word "sherbet" entered English directly from the Turkish in the early 17th century.

Once as popular in Turkey and parts of the Middle East such as Iran and Afghanistan as cola is today, this sweet drink, prepared using fruit and flower petals, has a long and rich history. Like many Ottoman dishes, Sherbet appears in quite a few anecdotes. When an Ottoman vizer had found he had displeased his sultan, he was served a glass of sherbet by one of the Sultan’s Bostanbasi, an elite squad of gardener-executioners. If the sherbet was white, he would live, if it was red, he would know he was a condemned man. Suleiman the Magnificent was said to be a huge fan of Sherbet. One popular story concerns the sultan ordering sherbet on a hot day while inspecting the janissary quarters. He was said to have returned his glass filled with gold, starting an annual tradition where the Janissaries would return the empty cup every time, expecting gold. His wife, the famous Roxelana even has one named after her. Sherbet was one of the most important features of a grand Ottoman banquet, and in 1573 alone almost one tonne of white rose sherbet was produced, with the palace gardens providing all the possible fruits and flower to be prepared. 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 a long nozzle.[3]

European folklore holds 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[edit]

Fudge Sorbet with chocolate and strawberry

American terminology[edit]

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 [4] , while Sorbet, on the other hand, is considered to be a fruity frozen product with no dairy content, similar to Italian ice.[citation needed]

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.[5] Use of the term sorbet is unregulated and is most commonly used with non-dairy, fruit juice water ice products.[6]

British terminology[edit]

In British English the term "sherbet" refers to a fizzy powder used in confectionery, and not a frozen dessert. The frozen dessert known to Americans by that name is not commonly known in the UK.[citation needed]

Central and Western Asia[edit]

A Central Asian Sherbet with nuts

In Central and Western Asia, sherbet is not an ice cream; rather, it has a solid state.[7]

See also[edit]




  1. ^ sorbet @ (in French language). Also the New English Dictionary on Historical Principles entries for sorbet and sherbet sorbetto @
  2. ^ "Etimologia : sorbire". 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Requirements for Specific Standardized Frozen Desserts". 2013-04-01. Retrieved 2014-08-09. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "What's in the Ice Cream Aisle". International Dairy Foods Association. 2013-10-24. Retrieved 2015-08-31. 
  7. ^ [1][dead link]