To give you a glimpse of it, sherbet and gelato are made in different ways. Also, their flavors and textures subtly differ, too. Sherbet has the same texture as ice cream but uses puréed fruit as its flavor. On the other hand, gelato is thicker in texture and dense than sherbet since it is made by churning slowly to have less air in the mixture.
We have also researched further to give you more information about these two frozen desserts. The details below are their differences in origin, flavor, ingredients texture, fat & dairy content, and more.
Gelato is a frozen dessert made from a mixture of cream, milk, and a sweetener (can be sugar). It is no surprise that it came from Italy. Italian shops are called "gelaterias" and sell it.
Sherbet (sometimes referred to as "sherbert") is a frozen mixture usually of fruit puree frozen dessert including a sweetener and a small amount bit milk or buttermilk.
Sorbet is a little more simple and is a frozen dessert made up of just fruit puree ( fruit juice, like lemon juice). The sweetening agent is usually sugar. It can also be sugar syrup or sweet liqueur. However, an important difference between sorbet and ice cream, gelato, and sherbet is that sorbet is dairy-free and therefore vegan.
Sorbet originally came about as a palate cleanser in high-class restaurants. Served between meal courses. French cafes were among the first to serve this.
Let's slowly get to the basics first to deeply understand these two sweet desserts.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Sherbet originated in the United States but it was actually the Middle East who first introduced the idea of iced desserts in the world. It comes from the Persian word, "sharbat'' which means an iced fruit drink. During the 1950s, Emmanuel Goren modified a usual sherbet to a rainbow sherbet, which made it more popular in the United States.
Serving sherbet was a cultural practice in the 20th century by making it a refreshment in the palate between meals. Now, serving sherbet is quite the opposite; it is better served after meals.
According to the International Wine & Food Society, Gelato is an Italian term that means "frozen". It is a term that refers to dairy-based milk which is somewhat similar to America's ice cream. However, what makes this different from ice cream is it is made from a mixture of milk, cream, and sweetener while ice cream is made from a custard made of milk, cream, sweetener, and often egg yolks.
Moreover, gelato was made as early as 3000 BC when Roman emperors enjoyed servings of ice sweetened with fruit juice. It was even made more popular when Bernardo Buontalenti prepared a creamy, frozen dessert in the 1500s to serve for the visitation of the King of Spain in Italy. Until then, it has become a frozen dessert that Italians enjoyed in every gelato shop called gelateria.
Sherbet is usually served frozen from mixed ingredients of water, frozen fruit, sugar, milk, and (or) cream, and flavorings. Some also add gelatin, lemon juice, or egg whites to improve its thicker texture.
Gelato is also served as frozen and contains common ingredients such as milk, cream, sugar, eggs, and flavorings such as nuts, coffee, fruits, etc. Take note, gelato contains more milk than sherbet and ice cream. Also, it uses less fat than other frozen treats making it more suitable for those who are on less-fat diets.
Another thing that makes sherbet different from gelato is its flavors. A classic sherbet only comes in fruit flavors such as lime, lemon, strawberry, and orange. The fruit is usually puréed and mixed with other common ingredients such as milk and sugar.
Gelato is available in more flavors and sweeter than sherbet. This is usually flavored with fruit, chocolates, nuts, and other sweeteners. Gelaterias in Italy are commonly served with chocolate or hazelnut-flavored ones, making them more savory and sweet than sherbet.
Their differences in texture will make you distinguish which is which. If you have a keen attention to food and its details, you will surely identify one.
Sherbet is different in texture than gelato and even sorbet, too. Primarily, making a sherbet requires you to use an ice cream maker even though they vary in procedures. One thing it has in common with ice cream is it should stay in the machine past the freezing point. With that, it will allow the mixture of ingredients to mix with air; hence, it will change in density making it almost the same with ice cream.
And since it already has a combination with air, it usually stays frozen for a longer period than a gelato. When about to serve one, it should be removed from the machine first and let it soften a little because it is normally solid and harder to eat.
The texture of gelato is more delicate, smooth, and soft, which melts easier in the mouth than sherbet.(not unlike frozen yogurt) Though it is also made using an ice cream machine, it requires a slower speed in mixing to prevent the air from combining into the ingredients. Also, it should be churned in a slower way and should be removed out from the machine once the ingredient becomes frozen. Then transfer into a container and store in a freezer to keep its temperature and texture.
Its smoother texture is the reason why it is more preferred than sherbet. More than that, it is also available in more flavors that will make you interested in eating.
Mostly, gelato contains more fats and calories than sherbet because of its ingredients. As previously mentioned, sherbet is primarily made up of fruits while a gelato can be made up of chocolates mixed with nuts, or nuts, and other artificial sweet flavors. Hence, sherbet is healthier than gelato. However, it may vary depending on its flavors. If you want a healthy gelato, you can opt to make your own or buy a dairy-free, gluten-free gelato.
Basically, sherbet is not ice cream because its ingredients contain lesser to no dairy products (1-2%). Also, it is processed differently and has a harder texture than ice cream.
A half-cup of vanilla gelato contains 140 calories and 12 grams of sugar while a half-cup of vanilla ice cream contains 266 calories and 22 grams of sugar; thus, gelato is healthier than ice cream.