With all the fruity, frozen dessert options, it's easy to get them all confused. While sorbet, sherbet, and granita all share very similar common ingredients and characteristics, there are a few distinctions to be made about the components and preparation of these desserts that sets them all apart.
There's more than one type of delightful dessert that counts being fruity, sweet, and apt to give you brain freeze (if you eat too much too quickly) among its distinguishing characteristics. Although sorbet, sherbet, and granitas all satisfy that same sweet tooth craving for something refreshing and bright, these frozen desserts are in fact different from one another; here's a light primer on how.
This frozen treat is as simple as it gets: it’s just fruit and sugar. A good sorbet will get its creaminess from the freezing and churning process of the blended and sweetened fruit. You're never going to find a dairy product in sorbet—if you did, well, it wouldn’t be sorbet. This light dessert is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan, always! When your refrigerator is bursting at the seams with fresh fruit, a good sorbet, whether it be strawberry, watermelon, or blueberry-lemon, is a always a solid option to use it all up before it goes bad.
Despite the fact that “sherbet” (not “sherbert”) looks and sounds really similar “sorbet,” there is a small distinction to be made between these fruity sweets. Sherbet incorporates some sort of dairy component, whether it be milk, cream, or buttermilk, to thicken and increase the richness. You'll occasionally also find gelatin used as a thickening agent in sherbet. Still bright and fruit-sweet, sherbet is simply going to have a thicker, creamier consistency and flavor profile than a sorbet.
This icy dessert fits into the same equation of sorbet and sherbet, as starts with the same base ingredients: fruit and sugar. However, unlike sorbet which is then frozen and churned, granita is spread into a layer and frozen. The surface is then scraped and broken up into tiny pieces that are much coarser and icier than a smooth scoop of sorbet.