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The Difference Between Ice Cream and Sherbet

23 min read -

Frozen desserts are delicious. They’re exactly what you need at the end of a long summer day. If you’ve been at the beach or the park since morning, they might even make for a satisfying lunchtime treat. No matter when you eat them, they’re going to make you happy. They’ll satisfy your sweet tooth, cool you off, and fill your belly. 

Ice cream and sherbet have some similarities, but they’re technically completely different desserts. The ratios of specific ingredients greatly changes which is which.


What Sherbet Technically Means

A sherbet is very similar to an ice cream. The biggest difference is the ratio of cream to fruit. Sherbet is primarily a fruit-based dessert. The base is pureed fruit and sugar, which is perfectly delicious by itself. Then, a little bit of cream or milk is added to the base. Anything considered a sherbet must have less than 2% dairy fat

Sherbet is creamy and fruity, but it contains much less dairy than ice cream. That’s why sherbet is usually deeper in color. Milk and cream don’t dilute the dessert, lending a pastel hue. Strawberry sherbet is usually a very deep pink, closer to the color of salmon. A strawberry ice cream will have more cream and less strawberries, giving it a light rosy blush. 

Sherbet is almost the opposite of ice cream. If you’re ever eating ice cream and you wish the fruit flavor played a bigger role, you probably want sherbet instead. 


The Difference Between Sherbet and Sorbet

Sherbet and sorbet may seem like interchangeable terms, but they refer to two completely different things. Sorbet is essentially a sherbet that was prematurely finished. Everything is the same, except the dairy was never added into the mix. It’s just the fruit, water, and sugar. 

This makes most sorbet vegan. The only exception is sorbet that contains honey. It also makes sorbet a valuable option for people who are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy. 


What Ice Cream Technically Means

Ice cream is a dessert that contains a minimum of 10% butterfat, which is the fat found in dairy cream. Most of the things we call ice cream aren’t technically ice cream. Soft serve isn’t really ice cream -- it usually contains significantly less butterfat, which is what makes it meltier, fluffier, and easier to dispense. The consistency is thinner, allowing the soft serve to be presented in a tall swirled tower. 

Products with less 10% butterfat are deemed “light ice cream.” The word “light” gives the impression that they’re somehow healthier, but this isn’t usually the case. Fat provides the flavor in ice cream, and reducing the fat content usually requires manufacturers to increase the sugar content or utilize non-nutritive sweeteners that are difficult for the body to digest.


What About Dairy-Free Ice Cream?

Dairy-free ice cream doesn’t contain any butterfat at all, because it does not contain any dairy. The definition for what can be considered ice cream technically would not apply to dairy-free ice cream at all. 

We may call these products ice cream in casual speech, but if you look closely at the packaging, they cannot even call themselves ice cream. They’re often labelled as “non-dairy frozen dessert” or “dairy-free frozen dessert” or just plain “frozen dessert.” Dairy-free ice cream is a term we use to describe these things, but it’s technically not what they are. 


What About Gelato, Custard, and Frozen Yogurt?

Gelato, custard, and frozen yogurt all look a lot like ice cream. They even contain dairy fat, which falls within the definition of ice cream. Different ingredients and styles of preparation make some desserts fundamentally different from ice cream, and they each have their own official titles.


What’s Gelato?

Gelato is halfway between a sherbet and ice cream. By definition, gelato must contain at least 3.25% milk. It’s a little creamier than sherbet, but fruit, nuts, or seeds will still make up the bulk of its base. 


What’s Frozen Custard?

Frozen custard is ice cream plus eggs. Eggs are used to give frozen custard a creamier, more pudding-like consistency. It’s richer in fat and maintains a whipped texture even after it’s frozen. 


What’s Frozen Yogurt?

Technically, “frozen yogurt” isn’t a regulated term. Anyone can call their product a frozen yogurt if it’s a frozen dessert that contains active cultures. In most cases, these active cultures are the only real difference between the ingredients of ice cream and frozen yogurt. 

Frozen yogurt isn’t always better for you. Active cultures are beneficial to your gut health, but if your frozen yogurt contains just as much sugar as your ice cream, it isn’t exactly a step in the right direction.


So, What is Snow Monkey?

If you look at the carton, you’ll see that we call Snow Monkey a “Dairy-Free Anytime Dessert.” By definition, we’re not an ice cream because we don’t contain any dairy. We also don’t contain any animal derived ingredients, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat, or soy. We’re free from all major allergens and contain no refined sugar. 

We fall into the “dairy-free frozen dessert” category, but choose to call our products “Anytime Desserts”. We use the term because Snow Monkey is a plant-based substitute for ice cream you can enjoy anytime of day due to its ingredients and nutritional content. You can eat it on a cone or in a breakfast smoothie bowl. You can use it to make a protein shake or a sundae. We come in the same flavors that your favorite traditional ice cream comes in, and then some more unique options. We’d put Strawberry Snow Monkey up against any other strawberry ice cream without hesitation. We’re confident it’s that delicious. 

Even though we’re a dairy-free “ice cream,” we’re not the same as other dairy-free ice cream options. Our base isn’t made of some kind of milk alternative. We use fruit puree, sunflower seed butter, hemp protein, maple syrup, and antioxidant packed superfoods to make our pints. This difference makes Snow Monkey a nutritional powerhouse

Yes, the carton says it’s a dessert. But the ingredients say there’s no reason you can’t have it anytime. With 20+ grams of protein per pint and ingredients that intelligently fuel your body, there’s no good reason you can’t have our ice cream for any meal or snack. You can dig right into our pints with a spoon, and you can do it whenever you want.


The Takeaway

Sherbet, sorbet, ice cream, non dairy ice cream, and “frozen dessert” have a lot of things in common, but they also have a lot of differences. A lot of ice cream technically isn’t even ice cream, but we refer to it as ice cream for the sake of simplicity. We may use the terms interchangeably in casual speech, but they all technically mean something different. 

Snow Monkey is vastly different from all of these frozen desserts, and it's the differences that make Snow Monkey the best choice. We made an ‘ice cream’ that’s good for you, and a dessert you can enjoy guilt-free is always the best dessert. You can eat Snow Monkey whenever you pleasel and feel right about what you’re putting into your body. 




Sources:

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=135.140 

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=135.110

https://www.dvo.com/newsletter/weekly/2015/5-22-632/cooknart3.html 

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