“Sorbet” and “Sorbetto” are two popular names that the English speaking community have come to associate with frozen desserts.
However, are there any differences between the two terms? Are they two separate frozen treats in their own rights or are they just an alternate name for each other stemming from a cultural or geographical difference?
This article explores the differences between sorbet and sorbetto to give you an insight into what they are, how they’re made and what their sister treats are.
What’s The Difference Between Sorbet And Sorbetto?
Apparently, the difference between Sorbet and Sorbetto is primarily a linguistic one, as both of them refer to the same type of frozen treat: a fruit puree mixed with sugar syrup and allowed to freeze.
Sorbetto is merely the Italian word for Sorbet which is the French word for the same desert having an Arabic origin.
What is Sorbet or Sorbetto?
Sorbet or Sorbetto is a type of sweet ice dessert, made by combining sweetener (like syrup) with fruits or fruit-based products like jams and then freezing for hours until a soft ice is formed in the mixture.
Sorbet typically bears a light consistency which makes it a perfect accompaniment for warm weather. The fruits used for sorbet can range from all time classics such as berries and melons to exotics such as mango and passion fruit.
Sorbet is served mainly after an entrée because of how light and refreshing it is, but it can also be served between courses, especially savory ones, to serve as a palate cleanser (a food meant to cleanse the palate before tasting another food so flavors are well absorbed into the buds).
Sorbetto can also be added as an ingredient (or a topping) for other types of desserts such as ice cream.
Where Did Sorbetto Come From?
Sorbetto, or Sorbet, or Italian sorbet, whichever you decide to call it, has a pretty simple history that stretches as far back as the ancient times, somewhere around 55-530 BCE.
Apparently, ancient Persians invented a drink called sharbat which was made by combining fruit juice, water and sugar and then cooled down with clean snow.
Eventually, the dessert was introduced to the Mediterranean region by Arab’s where it transformed (lingually) into “sorbetto” in Italy and “sorbet” in French — all making reference to the same type of drink.
Ever since, Sorbet has taken in a wide range of variations from the herb based ones to those having spices and even sweeteners like honey added in order to affect the complexity and depth of the flavor.
Why Is Sorbet Called Sorbet?
The mother word for the French term “sorbet” (which is the common English term for the drink) is sharbat— an Arabic word whose meaning is “a drink made from sugar and fruit juice” that was commonly served to guests as a sweet treat.
The French sorbet is likely derived from the Italian Sorbetto which inturn is a derivative of the Iranian word sharbat which itself is derived from the Arabic verb “shariba” which means to drink something.
How Is Sorbet Made?
Sorbet is a treat that is very easy to make at home. It only requires a few basic ingredients which are fruits, water and sugar.
For the fruits, you can use either fresh or frozen fruits and it would work just fine. You can even use fruit based products like jams, but for best results, it’s good to use fresh fruits that are fully ripened.
You can also choose whatever type of fruit you want. There’s no limitations in the fruits you can use when it comes to making sorbet!
After deciding on your fruit, puree it (without the seeds of course) in a blender or food processor until it is smooth in texture. Strain the fruit puree through a fine mesh to remove any particles that are present in the puree which would affect the consistency of the sorbet.
Now in a saucepan, mix equal parts water and sugar and cook it over medium heat until the sugar melts and the resulting syrup is simmering. Now take this syrup off the heat and allow it to cool down. You can add fresh aromatic leaves or herbs at this point to add flavor.
Next, add the syrup into the puree and mix well until everything is combined, then transfer it into a shallow container and chill in the freezer for at least 30 to 45 minutes to make sure everything is perfectly cooled down and a little bit of ice forms but the entire mixture is mostly liquid.
Take it out of the freezer and break the ice up using a fork to prevent the formation of large ice crystals, then return it back into the freezer for about 2 – 2 hours 30 minutes and it should be all done.
Alternatively, you can use an ice cream maker to freeze and achieve the desired consistency of sorbet.
Some like to freeze the ice cream maker bowl overnight before making the sorbet in order to get that soft yet firm consistency! Whatever you do with the ice cream maker however, make sure to never “over” churn the mixture otherwise it’ll turn icy.
Serve the sorbet as you like (or using our tips below) and freeze any leftovers in an airtight container for upto 1 week.
Remember, this is only a general guide on how to make sorbet, and you want to make sure you follow a full proof recipe to knack the perfect consistency and flavors all the time!
How Is Sorbet Served?
Sorbetto is versatile and can be served in many ways aside from placing a scoop of it in a bowl or cone.
You can certainly top it with fresh fruit, toasted coconut, cheese, whipped cream and even chocolate sauce. And you can definitely pair it with cake, cookies, other frozen treats and even crushed meringues for an extra indulgent treat.
What Are Other Desserts Like Sorbet?
Sorbet doesn’t exist alone in the world of ice deserts, it has cousins, many of which have a similar method of preparation to sorbet yet somehow taste or texture differently.
Take granita for example, it’s prepared in a very similar fashion to sorbetto, except that it is more crystalline (having a much sharper tasting ice) although some assert that the texture preference is culturally and geographically varied: that while some cities like their granita chunky, others prefer a much smoother texture like that of sorbet.
Then there’s “shaved ice” which basically is an Asian thing where ice is shaved into fluffy flakes and then combined with syrup to give it flavors. Shaved ice is usually more crunchy than sorbet.
Italian Ice has a nearly identical method of preparation to sorbet, except that its recipes produce treats that are finely textured and less creamy than sorbet.
Lastly, there’s sherbet, which is the most distant relative among all the ones mentioned above by virtue of the fact that it incorporates diary into its preparation while none of the others do. Sherbet typically has a much denser and creamier texture than sorbet but with a reduced flavor overall!