Sorbet (sorbeto, sorbetto) is a milk-free form of gelato, most commonly made with ice, fruit and varying other ingredients.
Generally dense and very refreshing, sorbet rivals the flavor of its dairy-based competitors.
The origins of sorbet are shrouded in folklore. While the Chinese have been making sorbet-like dishes using snow and fruit for thousands of years, legends also claim the Roman Emperor Nero was the first to bring sorbet into the world, making it by mixing snow from the Appian way with wine and honey.
Myth also suggests that sorbet was introduced into France by fourteen-year-old Catherine de’ Medici. She allegedly brought along her own chefs, skilled in the arts of frozen dessert-making, when she traveled from Florence, Italy to the French court of Francis I, preparing to marry the boy who would later become Henry II.
Originating with Catherine or not, sorbet was soon popular throughout France, sold by street vendor throughout 17th century Paris, this popularity quickly spread throughout Europe.
Sorbets can be purchased at grocery stores in flavors that range from mango to chocolate and every fruity flavor in between.
Homemade sorbets, blended or made in an ice-cream maker, can incorporate almost any form of fruit (fresh, frozen, juiced or pureed), and can also be made with wines or champagnes. Sorbets made with alcohol have a higher freezing temperature, so be prepared for a soft sorbet.
Inexpensive sorbets can be purchased from almost any grocery store, and specialty stores also offer pricier gourmet varieties.
Keep store-bought sorbets frozen, and try not to leave them out for too long before re-freezing for storage. Trying to eat a sorbet that has melted and been frozen again can be like trying to chip through a block of ice.
Homemade sorbet is best when first made. If you must freeze it for storage, keep it in the ice cream maker in which you made it, or, if prepared in a blender, transfer it to Tupperware.
If the ice hasn’t been ground finely enough in a homemade sorbet, it might freeze harder than you would like.
Sorbet is popular as a refreshing dessert, and is delicious when blended into smoothies or alcoholic beverages.
Following the tradition started by the French, many people use sorbet as a palette cleanser between the starter course and main entrée of a fancy meal.
Sorbet functions as an easy and delicious vegan dessert option.
Most sorbets are fat-free and, when made with real fruit, retain the fruit’s nutritional benefits.
Try one of our favorite sorbet recipes:
Champagne Sorbet with Wild Strawberries
Sazerac Rouge, Blanc, Bleu Sorbets in Ice Swan
View BigOven's sorbet recipes