Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sherbet (British and American English) or Sherbert (Australian English, also a variant spelling used in American English) historically was a cool effervescent or iced fruit drink. The meaning (and spelling and pronunciation) has fractured between three English-speaking countries as sherbet or sherbert has evolved to mean different things in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.
Sherbet is a frozen dessert made from iced sweetened fruit juice or puree. Sherbets usually have more ingredients, such as milk, egg whites, or gelatin, than sorbets. Sherbet in the United States must have a milkfat content between 1% and 2%, and a slightly higher sweetener content than ice cream; else, it must be sold as ice cream if the fat content is higher or sweetener content lower, ice milk if milk or sweetener content is lower, or as sorbet if no milk is present at all. US sherbet has a minimum density of 6 lb/gal (720 g/L) and is flavored either with fruit or other ingredients.
This frozen dessert is thought to have been developed by the Chinese, then later taught to Arab traders who in turn spread it to Europe.
The term is derived from the Turkish word for Sorbet, Sherbat. Both sherbet and sorbet typically can be used interchangeably in recipes, although sherbet both freezes and melts slower due to the presence of milk.
Sorbet can be made into sherbet if a beaten egg white and lowfat milk is added to the mixture after it is partially frozen.
Sherbet is a often sold alongside ice cream as a lower fat alternative.
United Kingdom and Australia
Sherbet in the United Kingdom is a kind of fizzy powder made from bicarbonate of soda, tartaric acid, sugar etc and usually cream soda or fruit flavoured. The acid-base reaction occurs upon presence of moisture (juice/saliva). It used to be stirred into various beverages to make effervescing drinks, in a similar way to making lemonade from lemonade powders. Today, people usually buy carbonated drinks rather than making them at home.
Sherbet is now used to mean this powder sold as a sweet (candy).
It is often sold in a cardboard tube with a straw made from liquorice as a liquorice fountain. You are supposed to be able to suck the powder up the straw into your mouth (where it fizzles and dissolves on your tongue). However, this rarely works so people tend to tip the sherbet into their mouths and eat the liquorice separately.
Sherbet dips are also popular. You can buy a small packet of sherbet with a lollipop sealed into the bag. Once you lick the lollipop, it can be dipped into the sherbet and sucked off, or used to shovel it into your mouth. Another popular type of sherbet dip is one where the packet is divided into three or four sections, one contains an edible (candy) stick which can be licked and then dipped into the other sections, each of which contains a different flavour of sherbet (for example strawberry, orange, cola, etc).
The most important thing to remember when eating sherbet is not to sneeze! (It either goes up your nose and hurts, or half of the powder is blown down your front and around the room).
Sherbet is also incorporated into other sweets (candies). For example it is used to fill boiled sweets (e.g. sherbet lemons) or wrapped in edible paper shells (flying saucers).
What Americans call "sherbet" is considered simply to be a sort of sorbet.
Beer or any alcoholic beverage
Sherbet has been used in parts of both the UK and Australia as slang for an alcoholic drink, especially beer. Sherbet is the name of a cooling Eastern drink made from fruit juice, and also the name of a European variation of this, which often had sherbet powder stirred into it to make it effervesce.
Its use as a slang term for beer is noted in a slang dictionary as early as 1890, and still appears in list of slang terms written today (especially lists of Australian slang).
- We're heading to the pub for a few sherbets
- We're going to the pub for a few pints of beer
In the 1990s, sherbet or sherbet dab began to be used as Cockney rhyming slang for a cab or taxi. Its use in this sense is probably restricted to London; relatively few rhyming slang terms enter into widespread use in the UK (two examples that have are loaf -> loaf of bread -> head, and butchers -> butcher's hook -> look).
- It's raining, let's get a sherbet
- It's raining, let's take a taxi
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