The difference between ice cream, gelato and sorbetsCompared to US-style ice cream, Italian ices are denser and contain less butterfat. Compared to both gelato and ice cream, meanwhile, sherbets have even less milkfat.

With National Ice Cream Month in full swing in the US, here’s a primer on the subtle differences between everyone’s favorite frozen desserts.

Ice cream: By US law, to be labeled ice cream, the package must contain at least 10 per cent milkfat before the addition of bulky ingredients. Oftentimes, stabilizers and emulsifiers are needed to create the proper texture and mouthfeel.

Frozen custard or French ice cream: Must contain a minimum of 10 per cent milkfat and at least 1.4 percent of egg yolk solids.

Sherbets: Milkfat content is between 1 and 2 per cent with a slightly higher sweetener content than ice cream.

Gelato: Characterized by an intense flavor and served in a semi-frozen state similar to soft-serve, gelato is denser than ice cream as it has less air. Typically, gelato also contains more milk and less cream.

Sorbet and water ices: Similar to sherbets, sorbets contain no dairy.

Frozen yogurt: A mix of milk and nonfat milk which has been cultured and frozen.

Novelties: Single-serve frozen desserts like ice cream sandwiches, fudge sticks and juice bars.

–Source: International Dairy Foods Association