Market research: Sorbet, the palate pleaser
Ciao Bella sorbet has the most sugar of our tested sorbets, but it's natural sugar from fruit. Credit: RJ Mickelson
Special to amNewYork
While its true that sorbets a lower-calorie, lower-fat (often fat-free) alternative to ice cream, and its made of fruit and often dairy-free, thats not a green light to eat the whole pint in one sitting.
It should still be considered a treat or dessert unless its homemade, and you know whats really going into it, noted nutritionist Liz Stein.
The first step, said Stein, is to check the sugar. For all their appeal, sorbets are still loaded with sugar.
In the four market brands taste-tested for this article Ciao Bella, Haagen Dazs, Sharons and Whole Fruit sugar per serving ranged from 19g to a whopping 38g, which is a huge variable when were talking about a scoop of frozen delight.
Second, said Stein, is figure out where the sugars coming from. The fruit accounts for some of it, but you want to choose a sorbet that has natural sugar, as opposed to high-fructose corn syrup. Case-in-point: In four samples, we found everything from cane sugar to plain old sugar to corn syrup.
Sharons is Steins sort of sorbet: Fruit is the first ingredient and the secondary sweetener comes from a natural source in this case, cane syrup. She may be on to something: at 80 calories and only 19g sugar per serving, Sharons sorbets are a great go-to option for picking up a pint on the way home from work. Very tasty too.
If youre craving ice cream, Whole Fruits Strawberry sorbet, with its candy-sugary sweetness, ultra-smooth texture, and big strawberry flavor, comes the closest. We loved seeing the flecks of strawberry, but didnt love the fact that the 20g of sugar per serving are from corn syrup solids and sugar.
Haagen-Dazss Orchard Peach sorbet had the lightest, most subtle flavor of the bunch it inspires descriptions like effervescent and delicate which makes sense, given that water is first on the list of ingredients. In the right circumstances, well overlook the fact that the 30 grams sugar per serving are from sugar and corn syrup, because this sorbet reminds us of nothing so much as a smooth, frozen bellini.
Local darling Ciao Bella packs the most sugar at 38g per serving, but thats no reason for alarm: The first two ingredients of the Banana Mango sorbet are bananas and mangos, and theres no water added, which means youre essentially eating a frozen banana-mango puree sweetened a bit more with regular sugar. There are pros and cons: The flavor is really intense, but at times eating this sorbet feels like youre mushing through a banana.
If all else fails, its really easy to make your own, says Stein. All it takes is blending together fresh fruit, ice and agave nectar to taste, and freezing the mixture in a durable container. Sounds like the perfect solution for those bananas that are about to turn.
Something different: Wine Cellar sorbet
For an interesting alternative to fruit sorbet, try Wine Cellar Sorbet of Brooklyns array wine-flavored sorbets, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling,
Champagne, and more, all available at Whole Foods.
The sake sorbet, one of Wine Cellar Sorbets latest releases, is unlike any of the other samples: The spoon slides right through the sorbet, which is in a state of permanent semi-freeze. The taste is subtle, cool and smooth up front, with a lingering flavor of sweet rice, reminiscent of mochi, a favorite Japanese treat. The Sake sorbet would pair nicely with a citrus dessert, such as key lime pie, or would make for a perfect amuse bouche.