Sorbet vs Italian Ice: What’s the Difference?

Sorbet and Italian Ice are two of the best frozen treats for summer! While they may look similar, there are actually ways in which they differ. We’ll explore all the ways in this article.

What Is Sorbet?

Sorbet or Sorbetto is a light frozen dessert similar to ice cream but has no dairy products in it which makes it a much healthier alternative. 

It is made by combining pureed fruits (either fresh or frozen and of different varieties) with sugar syrup and then freezing or churning in an ice cream maker until a light icy mixture is formed. 

The fruits are there to add flavor whereas the sugar acts as the texturizer so the Sorbet freezes into a soft, smooth and creamy consistency (though still slightly icy: which sets it apart from ice cream) that can easily be scooped and served in a bowl. 

Sorbet has its origins rooted deep into the Ancient Persian Culture, and it is believed to have been brought into the Mediterranean region by Arab settlers somewhere around the 17th century. 

Sorbet is typically served on its own or alongside other desserts like cakes, cookies and biscuits. It can also be topped with toasted coconut cheese or even whipped cream.

What Is Italian Ice?

Italian Ice, also known as water ice or shaved ice in some regions, has a very similar method of preparation to Sorbet. The primary difference lies in the extra addition of ice to the recipe. 

Italian Ice is typically made by combining fruits, sweetener like sugar or honey and ice until the mixture blends into a smooth consistency. 

Then, it is transferred into a baking pan and frozen briefly (for about 30 minutes) so as to create a semi-icy medium. 

Then, a fork is used to break the mixture into a slush, from where it is placed back in the freezer for hours in order to firm up and form a coarse texture with small ice crystals throughout.

Popular flavors of Italian Ice include lemon, cherry, raspberry and mango, but it can be made with literally any type of edible fruit.

Italian Ice is beloved in Italy but has its origins from Ancient Persian culture, just like Sorbet, and was brought into the United States by Italian immigrants in the 1900’s.

What Are The Differences Between Sorbet And Italian Ice?

Sorbet and Italian Ice are quite similar in their makeup, but a few things differentiate them from one another. Let’s go through them. 

First, the ingredients. 

Italian Ice constitutes a process where ice is blended alongside flavoring ingredients such as fruits, flavoring or juice and a sweetener. 

Sorbet on the other hand, does not include ice, instead, a sugar syrup is added to a mixture of fruit puree, mixed and then frozen. 

By virtue of their different methods of preparation and composition, Italian ice typically freezes into a coarse texture with presence of small ice crystals throughout, whereas sorbet freezes into a much creamier and softer consistency, though not as soft and creamy as ice cream. 

This means that Italian Ice is much lighter and airy than sorbet which is dense. 

When it comes to the types of fruit used to prepare both desserts, they could take on any shape, both fresh and frozen. 

While sorbet almost always employed only real fruits blended into a puree, the Italian Ice recipe is a bit more flexible and can include juices, jam, artificial flavoring and even coloring. 

Which Is Better Between Sorbet And Italian Ice? 

The choice between sorbet and italian ice really boils down to personal preference. Both are really exciting additions to your summer plans and share nearly the same nutritional profile. 

Both are low in fat and therefore calories which makes them a much healthier alternative to ice cream and other frozen desserts made using ingredients that are heavy in fat and calories. 

You should note however, that they both contain high amounts of sugar and therefore must be enjoyed in moderation in order to prevent the birth of any negative side effects later on. 

Another great tip is to always make your own frozen dessert and use fresh fruits for better flavor and more nutrients, as freezing can degrade the quality and nutrition of items. 

If possible, ditch Italian Ice made with artificial flavoring and coloring as these ingredients may not entirely be healthy for the body.

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