Frozen Purees and Juices: Ices, Sorbets, Sherbets

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

When purees and juices are frozen, they form a refreshing semisolid mass that’s known by a variety of names, including ice, sorbet, granita, and sherbet. This kind of preparation was first refined in 17th-century Italy, which gave us the term sorbet (via sorbetto from the Arabic sharab, or “syrup”). Its flavor is essentially that of the fruit (sometimes an herb, spice, flower, coffee, or tea), usually heightened with added sugar and acid (to 25–35% and 0.5% respectively), and with an overall sugar-acid ratio similar to that of the melons (30–60:1). The puree or juice is often diluted with some water as well, sometimes to reduce the acidity (lemon and lime juices), sometimes to stretch an ingredient in short supply, and sometimes to improve the flavor, which is interestingly affected by the very cold serving temperature: for example, undiluted melon can taste too much like its close relative the cucumber, and thinned pear puree tastes less like frozen fruit, more delicate and perfumed. In the United States, “sherbet” is the term applied to fruit ices with milk solids included (3–5%) to fill out the flavor and help soften the texture.