Sherbert vs Sorbet

The other weekend at Bellevue Square, Stanman, Saran, Carolyn and I were discussing about ice cream, which ended up either Stanman or I bringing up ordering Rainbow Sherbet at Thrifty (before they got bought by Rite-Aid). Rainbow Sherbet has been and still is my favorite ice cream flavor (I think…). Anyway, we got to the point where we were debating how to pronounce sherbet and what sherbet really was.

When I was small, I called sherbet, well sher-bet or sher-bert, but then I learnt the word sorbet (pronounced sor-bay), so I thought, maybe that’s how you pronounce it (i.e. sher-bay). Others chimed in that sherbet was a derivation of sorbet (but pronounced differently) or that it was just another way of spelling sorbet and are in fact the same thing.

Then I mentioned that sherbet wasn’t really ice cream because it didn’t contain any milk (needed for the cream part of ice cream), but Stanman argued that it was an ice cream and does in fact contain milk. I’ve always associated sherbets with frozen fruit juices and they don’t really taste like they contain any type of milk in them. I mean when I get a “dream” smoothie from Jamba Juice, those taste like it has milk.

According to Merriam-Webster, the correct pronunciation is sher-bet, with a variant: sher-bert.

Anyway, thank god for Wikipedia: Sherbet (U.S.)

Sherbet (often pronounced and even occasionally spelled sherbert in American English) is a frozen dessert made from iced sweetened fruit juice or puree. Sherbets usually have more ingredients, such as milk, egg whites, or gelatin, than sorbets, which are generally made from iced fruit puree and other ingredients. Sherbet in the United States must have a milkfat content between 1% and 2%, and a slightly higher sweetener content than ice cream; else, it must be sold as ice cream if the fat content is higher or sweetener content lower, ice milk if milk or sweetener content is lower, or as sorbet if no milk is present at all. American sherbets have a minimum density of 6 lb/gal (720 g/L) and are flavored either with fruit or other ingredients.

There you have it. Sherbet does in fact contain milk, but is not ice cream due to the lower milkfat content and the higher sweetener content.

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3 thoughts on “Sherbert vs Sorbet

  1. sherbet has milk .. sorbet does not .. sherbet is creamier – more like icecream than sorbet .. sorbet is frozen, ice-y like italian ice .. sherbeRt, with a second “r”, is “sherbet” spelled incorrectly

  2. Sorbet vs. Sherbet
    The difference between sorbet and sherbet is that sherbets contain milk or another fat, making it similar to ice cream. Generally thought of as being fruit based, sorbets can be made with any ingredient.
    Sorbets are technically ices (as in Italian ice) and are also referred to as granitas. They were actually the first iced dessert, probably having been invented by the Asians and then introduced to the Middle East and Italy. They are generally granular in texture where sherbet is creamy as a result of the added fat.
    The smoothness of a sorbet is also dependent on the secondary ingredients because of how they can change the structure of the frozen recipe. More or less sugar or alcohol or even the amount of water will make a big difference in the texture of the recipe.

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