Ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbet, sherbet, gelato – all amazing on a hot summer day but special in their own way. But what exactly is the difference?

Let’s start with an easy one. Ice cream. It’s a frozen dessert always made from dairy products, mostly cream unless it’s a variation made from soy milk or rice milk… in which case it really isn’t ice cream at all. To qualify as ice cream the product must have a minimum of 10% milk fat (or butter fat). The more milk fat the creamier and more decedent it is, some premium ice creams have upwards of 16% milk fat content.

Frozen Yogurt is made with… that’s right yogurt! It has a slightly tangier taste and is lower in fat because it uses pure milk in the yogurt instead of cream. This is similar to, but not the same, as ice milk – sometimes called ‘light ice cream’ – which uses pure milk as well but contains no yogurt.

Moving on… gelato. A favourite of hubby’s and mine as we honeymooned through Italy. It is similar to ice cream as it is dairy based, but it has a lower milk fat content, usually between 4%-8%. It also has a lower sugar content and contains less air for a denser, more flavourful frozen treat. Gelato is frozen in small batches and is only at its prime for a few days, as oppose to ice cream which can last for months in the freezer. As such many gelato shops make their own product on site or near by.

Sorbet is a whole new creature. It’s typically made from sweetened water and fruit juice or puree. But it can also be made with chocolate, wine or liqueur. Another name for sorbet is sherbet. Unlike ice cream or gelato there is no air whipped in giving it a crunchy texture thanks to the ice crystals.

So now when you are on the hunt for a frosty treat on a cool day and someone asks you the difference between ice cream and gelato, you’ll know!