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A sorbet is a type of frozen dessert made with sweetened water and flavored with fruit in the form of juice or puree that sometimes contains wine or alcohol. A pear sorbet is a sorbet made with either pear juice or puree. Sorbets are similar to sherbets and ice creams, and in some parts of the world the terms sorbet and sherbet are interchangeable, but the use of these words varies in other areas. Sorbets are often considered to be the same as a type of dessert called "Italian ice."
Sherbets and ice creams contain dairy products, which distinguishes them from sorbets. Neither does sorbet have air whipped into it to lighten the texture. Like sherbets and ice creams, sorbet is produced in a manner that causes it to freeze slowly, so that the ice crystals are very small, creating a smooth and creamy texture rather than a grainy one, which is characteristic of another similar dessert, the granita.
Pear juice or puree is mixed with sweetened water to give a pear sorbet its flavor. A small amount of wine or other alcohol, like pear brandy, may also be added to the mixture, lowering the freezing point of the sorbet and helping to keep it from becoming too hard once frozen. It is then frozen slowly, often using an ice cream maker. This machine stirs the sorbet as it freezes, keeping the ice crystals very small. Alternatively, the sorbet may be mostly frozen and then put in a food processor. It is then re-frozen and processed several times until the desired texture is achieved.
In most parts of the world, the terms sorbet and sherbet are considered interchangeable, but exceptions exist, particularly in the United Kingdom and the United States. In the U.K. a sherbet is a type of powder that fizzes when added to liquid, which means that a pear sorbet might dairy products, although this is unlikely. In the U.S., foods labeled as sherbets must contain between 1% and 2% milk fat, making them dairy products. To be properly termed a pear sorbet, the mixture will contain no dairy products.