by Betty Thompson

Photo of three serving suggestions (Photo by Brandi Easter)

"But the sherberts were worthy of notice, from their peculiar delicacy: these were contained in immense bowls of the most costly china, and drunk by the help of spoons of the most exquisite workmanship, made of the pear tree." (James J. Morier, The Adventures of Haji Baba of Isphahan).

In Persia, sharbah is sour cherry, quince or pomegranate syrup poured over shaved ice and served as a refreshing drink. The Arabic word sharbah, which means drink, has become sherbet in English.

Sherbet, sorbet, ice, granita and frappé are all light, refreshing frozen fruit juice and syrup mixtures. Sherbet, as we know it, is frozen fruit juice with sugar, water, milk or egg white.

Classifying homemade sherbet products is difficult because of the variety of recipes and combinations of ingredients, while commercial products are regulated to control milk fat and stabilizers (agar, gelatin, etc.). Commercial sherbet, for example, contains milk but home recipes may not.

Sorbet, French for sherbet, is frozen fruit juice, wine (port, Marsala or Sauterne) and/or liqueur mixtures served between dinner courses, before the entree, to cleanse the palate. The French consider it an aperitif and an aid to digestion.

Sorbet also refers to frozen fruit mixtures used as dessert.

Ices (granita in Italian) are fruit juice and sugar syrup frozen without much stirring to produce a chunky, gritty-textured ice. Frappé is sherbet or ice slushed with a beverage such as carbonated lemon lime or ginger ale poured over the top.

All of these are easy to make using a home freezer. An ice cream maker is handy but not necessary. Make a simple boiled sugar syrup to keep on hand in the refrigerator. Combine with a favorite fruit puree and freeze. For variation, steep herbs like scented geranium leaves, lemon verbena, mint or rosemary in the sugar syrup and strain before adding to complimentary citrus fruit juices.

Most fruit combinations go well together. Keep color in mind. Some reds combined with other colors end up an unappealing mud water brown. Most fruit flavors are improved with a little lemon juice, particularly the milder flavor fruits. A bit of citrus peel intensifies flavors.

Freeze mixtures in a shallow layer in a pan until fairly firm. Eight-inch square pans or bread pans are ideal. When mix is fairly firm, beat with a whip, an electric mixer, a food processor or blender to break up ice crystals, incorporate air and create a smoother texture. (Fruit ices are only stirred.)

Refreeze until serving time. Some recipes call for stiffly beaten egg whites or milk. This also contributes to a smooth texture. To serve, remove from freezer to soften about 10 minutes before.

Serve them as a dessert surrounded by additional fruit or topped with a fruit sauce; try a scoop on fruit salad or in a melon wedge as an accompaniment to grilled meat or use as a delicious slushy drink before or after dinner.



Choose ripe, fresh fruit such as berries, mango, fig, melon, peach.

Sugar syrup

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 cups water

In a sauce pan, combine the sugar and water. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and boil for three minutes. Remove from heat and cool. The syrup can be kept in a covered jar in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Berry Sorbet

1 2/3 cups sugar syrup

3 cups fruit puree (strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Peach Sorbet

1 2/3 cups sugar syrup

2 1/2 cups unpeeled and sieved peach puree (or use apricots or nectarines)

1/4 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

Place fruit of choice in a food processor or blender, then sieve if desired. Mix syrup and fruit puree and freeze in a 9- by 12-inch pan until almost frozen. Beat in a food processor or in a bowl with a hand mixer. Freeze until solid. Delicious topped with complimentary liqueur or whipped cream.


1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped mint leaves

Reserve four pineapple chunks for garnish. Turn remaining pineapple and juice into an eight-inch pan and freeze until almost solid. Put in the blender with mint. Whirl on low speed until smooth but not melted. Serve immediately or return to freezer until serving time. Spoon into parfait glasses. Garnish with pineapple, a cherry and a mint leaf. Yield: 4 servings.


The corn syrup and egg white give this sherbet a snowy smooth texture.

3 cups water

3/4 cup light corn syrup

1 1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon grated lemon rind

2/3 cup lemon juice (3-4)

2 egg whites

Combine water, corn syrup, sugar and lemon rind in a sauce pan. Place over low heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Boil five minutes without stirring. Cool. Add strained lemon juice and freeze several hours, stirring occasionally. Remove to a chilled bowl, break up with a wooden spoon and beat with an electric mixer until free from hard lumps. Fold in two stiffly beaten egg whites and freeze until serving time.


A favorite from Rachel Stamps of Manila. This recipe makes a lot but never enough. Serve it as a slush or pour Seven-up over and serve it as a refreshing party drink.

4 cups sugar

6 cups water

Heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil 1 minute. Cool.

1 12-ounce can frozen orange juice

(no added water)

1 46-ounce can pineapple juice

5 ripe bananas, well-mashed

Juice of 2 lemons or 16-ounce can

frozen lemonade

Mix all together. Pour into pint or quart freezing containers. For a smoother texture, freeze in pans until almost firm, then beat and place in freezer containers.

Betty Thompson has taught cooking locally since 1974.

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