What’s the Difference between Ice Cream, Sherbet, Sorbet and Gelato?

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This week I explain the difference in some food words that confused me for years. But, because it’s Labor Day this coming weekend in the USA, I’ll talk about a global favorite: ice cream! …. and its relatives.

At the end of the post you’ll find a heavenly pomegranate-coconut milk sherbet that you’ll swear is ice cream. It takes a couple of days to make, so get started: your cookout is this weekend!

So to task:

  • Ice cream: made with milk or cream plus sugar and eggs and possibly some fruit or flavoring; it’s cooked, chilled, then churned and frozen
  • Sorbet (pronounced “sor-BAY”): contains only fruit and sugar and maybe a little water; it’s churned and frozen like ice cream but has no dairy; often used as a palate cleanser between courses of a meal
  • Sherbet (pronounced “SHER-bet”; also erroneously spelled “sherbert”): contains fruit and sugar like sorbet, but also has added cream, milk, egg whites or gelatin; it’s churned and frozen like ice cream, too, but it’s like “ice-cream lite”
  • Gelato: (“gel-AH-toe”): the Italian word for ice cream, but gelato has less fat than ice cream because there is more milk than cream and is churned less than American ice cream. It’s softer and creamier than its American counterpart. Plus it’s magic.
  • Granita (“gran-EE-tah”)/plural is granite (“gran-EE-tay”): also Italian; like sorbet but fluffier and grainier; contains sugar, water and flavorings such as fruit juice; ingredients are mixed then frozen; occasionally during the freezing process, the mixture is agitated or briefly churned; common flavors are lemon, coffee, mint or berries; eaten as palate cleanser or summer treat; FYI: Italian ice is basically granita with lower quality ingredients, and a snow cone is plain shaved ice with flavor syrup added just before eating

Wow, granita turned out to be a rabbit hole! Anyway…

What they all have in common:

  • they are frozen
  • they are sweet
  • you love them!

Happy Labor Day, my American friends! Enjoy this (gluten-free, lactose-free, non-dairy, raw vegan, vegetarian) miracle of taste!

Print Recipe
Pomegranate Coconut Milk Sherbet Recipe
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 6.5 hours
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 6.4 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 6.5 hours
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 6.4 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a medium sauce pan and warm over medium heat until the coconut milk solids and the honey have completely dissolved in the juice. Do not bring to a boil.
  2. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a bowl. Chill in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally so that the pomegranate juice and coconut milk don’t separate. Chill the mixture about an hour or so until it’s cool enough to churn but not so cold that the coconut milk starts to solidify again.
  3. Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Freeze 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally.
  5. Remove leaves from mint stalks and use them to generously garnish the sherbert before serving.
Recipe Notes

DO NOT skip the mint leaves as garnish. They absolutely make the dish!

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denver sculpture

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