Sunday, 20 August 2017

Sherbet or Sorbet? An East-West Beverage Tradition

Text and photographs by SkyLife*   
Sherbet and sorbet are a pronounced example of the contemporary gastronomic approach to the “Eastern-Western” synthesis.

Sherbet is a drink which is usually served chilled (though it may also be served warm) and is prepared by combining flowers, fruits, spices, dried fruits and nuts, and similar foods with sweeteners, such as honey and molasses, and water.

Sorbet is, technically, a chilled dessert produced by freezing sherbet to produce crystals of ice. It is also served between two dishes during multiple-course meals in order to cleanse the palate.

While sherbet and sorbet may appear to be close relatives, completely different cultures have sprung up around them.

When carbonated beverages had not yet appeared and during the Ottoman period, sherbet was an important beverage for various reasons and was consumed frequently. Naturally, there used to be a sherbet industry in those days which produced great quantities of sherbet. It wasn’t possible to meet demand by producing fresh sherbet alone. Therefore, several inventions were developed to produce ready-made sherbet. Mass quantities of sherbet were produced thanks to concentrated liquid syrups, pastes, and sherbet powders.

Particularly during the summer months, cooling sherbet was a costly and difficult task. Until the appearance of refrigerator technology, palaces resorted to such preservation methods as snow boxes, ice boxes, snow wells, snow chambers, snow jugs, and snow sacks among others. Besides, the snow that was to be gathered had to be of a certain kind – snow and ice were not gathered just for cooling, but also for the production of food and sherbet.


Snow halva, also known as “karsambaç”, is prepared by mixing molasses, honey, fresh fruit, and fruit syrup with snow. Snow sherbet was also apparently made using this method. Snow sherbet and sorbet produce the same result not because of how they are made, but because of their composition. The Italians staged a massive revolution when they successfully used refrigeration technology to crystallize sherbet. It would be more of a stretch to say that ice cream derives from the sorbet method – its composition is different from sorbet.

Turkish sherbet culture was unfortunately almost forgotten due to progress. However, some restaurants have started offering delicious sherbets in tiny glasses to customers once more.

Sorbet continues to preserve its place in world cuisine.



15 limes, 2 tablespoons jasmine flower, 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar.


Zest and juice limes. Add lime juice, zest, jasmine flower, and confectioner’s sugar to a mixing bowl and mix. Chill at –18 for five or six hours. When lime juice has frozen, crush using a fork. Chill at –18 for five hours again. Serve in chilled cups.



200 g cherries with stones removed, 200 g apricots with stones removed, 1 slice melon, 1 slice watermelon, 100 g strawberries, 100 g mulberries, 2 peaches.


Remove stones and seeds from all fruits. Blend until puréed, mixing well. Pour into a deep steel basin. Freeze at –18. Once frozen, crush using a fork. Freeze at –18 and mix again. Serve in chilled cups and jug once mixture has reached a flaky, snow-like consistency.



10 bunches arugula, 10 bunches mint, 10 bunches parsley, 5 bunches dill, 5 bunches cress, 6 bunches basil, juice of 15 lemons, juice of 10 oranges, 6 liters watermelon.


Wash all herbs, chop, add water, and then put through food processor… Drain herbs, add lemon and orange juice. Add sugar to taste if desired. Serve chilled.

This text and photographs are courtesy of SkyLife, a monthly magazine published by Turkish Airlines.

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