I made some strawberry sorbet. I cut up the strawberries and macerated in lime juice and raw sugar, then cooked them to make them soft so I could use my hand blender to make the puree. I used enough sugar to make it sweet in the non frozen state but after freezing the mixture its not as sweet.

Why does freezing change the perceived sweetness of sorbet? It's obvious next time I will make it sweeter I'm just wondering if there is a rule of thumb when making sorbet so that it turns out sweet.

  • I can't answer your last question but cold has always been well known to blunt your perception of flavor. There's a reason people say that the hallmark of a good beer is whether you can drink it warm... and why you're supposed to let cheese come to room temperature to truly enjoy its flavors...
    – Catija
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 15:37

1 Answer 1


Cold temperatures make you perceive flavors less in general. You can notice this quite directly when well-frozen eating sorbet or ice cream: you'll taste the flavor much more strongly initially than later on. And it's not just you getting used to the flavor. If you switch to something else, you'll still have a dulled perception of its flavor. I believe this is all primarily because your tongue and palate are numbed a bit. Your sense of touch doesn't work as well if your hands are freezing either! The lower temperature also reduces volatility, so aromatic things won't be as readily available to perceive.

As for sweetness, there's not exactly a rule of thumb per se for sorbet. I guess it's common to be somewhere in the ballpark of 1/2 to 2/3 a cup of sugar for 2-3 cups of fruit, but that's often more about adding enough sugar to keep it soft than anything else. In many cases, you end up adding lemon juice or something else to cut the sweetness back down, or perhaps using less sugar but adding alcohol to soften it.

In any case, you can certainly develop a sense of how sweet your sorbet will be before freezing, but it's hard to really convey in words. It's just a lot sweeter than you want it to taste in the end. Tasting a known good recipe might help train you more quickly, or perhaps tasting melted sorbet - but in that case, if you've just eaten a bunch of it, your perception is probably a bit skewed.

  • 1
    Often, a pinch of salt would give the illusion of more sweetness, particularly when there is a bit of sourness present. Sweetness is a very subjective sensation which can be hard to quantify objectively. Sugar plays a big role in the texture of the sorbet, arguably more so than the taste. My benchmark is around 25% w/w including sugars in all ingredients. Anything less (for taste) I will use gums or gels to get the texture.
    – user110084
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 18:13
  • @Jefromi - Thanks for the tips. I'm going to try this again, berries are dirt cheap right now and sorbet is such a nice refreshing dessert for summer. I'm going to buy some Hagen Daaz strawberry sorbet and melt a little to get a feel for the sweetness level when its not frozen.
    – haakon.io
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 18:25

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