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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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