Learn how delicious science can be! This post shares with you how to make sherbet that’s fizzy on your tongue, delicious and creates wonderful chemical reaction that will amaze.
Kids love science and this is one activity that also provides a sensory taste sensation that some might really enjoy.
Here is a basic recipe in how to make sherbet. There can be some confusion between sherbet, sherbert and sorbet but as I understand it (and as a child growing up in Australia) sherbet is a light and sugary powder that can be enjoyed by itself and is tingly on the tongue. Great fun!
I had found a recipe online that included bi-carbonate soda, however, I didn’t think it tastes as nice so instead I simplified it and improved its taste. It also meant that it was only going to take 2 ingredients to make.
Recommended age: 2.5 years +
(I always recommend active adult supervision on all my activities)
How to make sherbet
You will need –
- Soft icing sugar
- Citric acid for baking
- Jelly crystals (optional)
This recipe couldn’t be simpler for children make.
Add 3 teaspoons of soft icing sugar to a medium sized bowl. Next add 1 teaspoon of citric acid. If you wish for your sherbet to be flavoured you might choose to add 2 teaspoons of raw jelly (or Jell-o) crystals. Another fun addition might be to include some popping candy or 100s & 1000s, which can often be purchased from supermarkets or cake stores.
Product variations – There seems to be some variations to the names of products according to different countries. As far as I can research, icing sugar can also be called ‘sugar powder’ and citric acid can be called ‘sour salt’. All these products should be available at your grocery store and found in the baking aisle.
Storing and serving – I choose to store it in zip lock bags and only serve out small half teaspoon sized serves to children in tiny 30ml plastics cups.
I absolutely love ‘cooking’ with Possum (aged 2.5 years). She gets to see me measure ingredients and understand that there is purpose behind what we are doing and we are working towards a goal, that is to make sherbet.
Sometimes it can be tricky for little ones to get involved in cooking because they don’t have the muscle strength to stir stiff batter and naturally an adult needs to come along (aka take over) and make sure it has been given a thorough mixing. Children have no trouble mixing this recipe together because the simple ingredients are light and easily combined.
I chose to make a flavoured variety of sherbet and simply added the well measured jelly crystals.
If you are familiar with sherbet you will know what a fizzy explosion it causes in the mouth. This would be Possum’s first ever sensory experience of tasting sherbet and I had a good feeling I’d know how she would react…..
This picture makes me giggle. Possum had never experienced such a sensory experience in her mouth before and she loved it of course and was soon asking for more! LOL
Serving Size – I would only recommend offering children half a teaspoon of sherbet mixture over a 24 hour period. Having them lick a clean finger and dipping it into the sherbet will usually pace children’s consumption of this fizzy mixture. Always have children clean their teeth afterwards.
The science of what makes sherbet fizz
Typically when the citric acid and bi-carbonate mix together with the saliva in the mouth it releases a gas, which causes a fizzy chemical reaction. A similar fizzy reaction can be achieved with just the use of citric acid and saliva. The icing sugar sweetens the mixture.
Making sherbet is a fun and engaging science activity for children and what adds to it’s ‘awesomeness’ is the fact that it’s an edible science activity.
Here is another post that might interest you about making sherbet. Kids over the age of 2.5 years will love making it and tasting the fizzy sensation on their tongue.
Jelly crystals? Do you mean Jell-o? Citric acid for baking? Baking powder?
I saw this pinned on pinterest and we do science every week and would love to add this to August while it is hot outside.
Yes, Jell-o and citric acid for baking. 🙂
After reading all of the questions about the citric acid for baking, I did some research. I also live in the U.S. and would like to try this project. Citric acid for baking should be in stores in the canning section. The brand name I was able to find was Ball who is the maker of canning jars. So look in your grocery store down the aisle that has all of the canning products. Hope this helps.
Bless your gorgeous heart Lisa! Thank you so kindly for all that fabulous information. 🙂
is that a boy or girl if she is girl how old is she
She is a girl. 🙂
You also need baking powder not just citrus acid just saying
Thanks for your feedback Brylee. My version I was happy not to. Certainly add that if you like.
It’s called jelly here
Dorothy Hansen says
Soft icing sugar? Is this the same as powdered sugar?
Kimberley Weston says
Soft Icing Mixture contains Cornflour.
It’s best to use Pure Icing Sugar.
Hi there, this looks amazing! Just wondering what the uk equivalent is to the citric acid and jello crystals x
Hi lovely Heather.
I’m learning that many parts of the world call these products different things. 🙂
It was my understanding that citric acid is available in the UK and can be purchased from the supermarket in the baking section. I hope that helps you but do ask at the shopping counter. The Jelly crystals you need for this is what is used to make flavoured gelatine.
Yep, citric acid is very normal in the UK 🙂 the last batch I bought (and I have no idea what it was bought for…) was purchased in the brewing section of Wilkinsons if that helps!
Thanks for your help Katy. 🙂
Alan Andersen says
We call jello jelly in the UK, but citric acid is the same.
I want to make this with my Pre-K Class. Is soft icing sugar same as “powder sugar”? Where do I find/purchase citric acid? Do most grocery stores carry it? Thank you!
Hi Debbie. I’m in Australia so there may be some variations to how products are wording. Thanks for contacting me. By my research, powder sugar IS the same as icing sugar needed for this recipe. I have also looked into citric acid and I believe it can sometimes be called ‘sour salt’ but available from your grocery store. Hope that helps you. 🙂
You will find citric acid in the baking aisle of your supermarket. We got ours where baking power is kept.
baking POWDER that was supposed to be
Sherri in WI says
What is citric acid for baking? Doesn’t sound like anything I have ever seen in the US (and I bake a lot!). Also, here sherbet is a frozen dessert – this doesn’t seem like it needs to be frozen and it seems from looking over the recipe that it is just a powder when it is all mixed together.
Thank you so kindly for your message Sherri. This is not a frozen dessert but I sugary (fizzy) powder that can be simply enjoyed alone. Kids love it because it crackles on the tongue has gives them a fizzy taste experience that can also be flavoured. It isn’t to be eaten in large amounts because it is basically sugar! It’s a sweet powder.
Thank you again. I’m in Australia and now realising that many of our products are named differently. I’ll be sure to adjust the recipe to suit my US audience. I’ve looked into it and I believe that citric acid can also be called ‘sour salt’ in the US and purchased from your grocery store. http://candy.about.com/od/candyglossary/a/What-Is-Citric-Acid.htm
Let me know if you need any more clarification.
Citric acid isn’t fizzy though.
Citric acid is sour.
sour and fizzy are two separate sensation.
You’re thinking of S-H-E-R-B-E-R-T, not sherbet
Hi Kristina. Thanks for your comment. In Australia, which is where I am from, S-H-E-R-B-E-T is a fizzy powder. See here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sherbet_(powder)
I love this and can’t wait to make it with my daughter.
One little thing. I do not recommend brushing your children’s teeth right after, as the citric acid softens the enamel, and brushing at this time can brush the enamel away. Waiting for an hour after any citrus, or really anything that has that fizzy component, before brushing, solves the problem 🙂
Oooh great feedback thank you Kristy. Very much appreciate it. 🙂
Deceptively Educational says
This looks just as fun to make as it would be to eat. Thanks for linking up to the After School party!
It tastes so rad
Awesome Amy. Thanks for trying it out.
if you leave out the bicarb soda, it isn’t sherbet it is just sour sugar…
as you say at the bottom of the post, it is the citric acid reacting with the bi-carb soda and forming fizzy carbon dioxide that makes it a sherbet. the carbon dioxide is in the bicarbonate of soda and released by the acid. you can see that in the simpler reaction between hydrochloric acid and bicarb soda:
NaHCO3 + HCl = NaCl + H2O + CO2
as you can see, no part of HCl can be made into CO2. the chemical reaction with citric acid is the same, but with edible ingredients.
You are a clever clogs Peter. Thank you
Please don’t put HCl in candy, haha. Citric acid is C6H8O7. But yes, you need the reaction between the baking soda and acid to produce CO2.
Hi there!!!! Our ration ended up like 20:1 sugar to citric acid ….. using tablespoons.
Then we added 1teaspoon of bicarbonate soda. The soda made all the difference to create a classic ‘fruit tingle’ sensation! So thanks Damian for your science knowledge, it’s alchemy ✨🥰✨
Kimberley Weston says
Peter, omitting the Bicarb is only a matter of taste. It still has a fizzy sensation on the tongue.
Can too much make you sick?
[i love your blog]
Yes Kiara. It’s like eating straight sugar so moderation is advised.
Lisa powers says
Can you change the colour?
Absolutely. The jelly crystals is what creates the colouring. 🙂
Hi, Kate. I’m an American and I love sherbet sweets! I have made this many times. For those in the US, citric acid can be found in Walmart. And bi carb soda is the same as what we call baking soda. 😀
Ace! You’re amazing, thank you SO much for clearing that up.
I could not find it at Walmart and nobody that worked there knew what it was. What section did you find it in?
It is in the canning section. Other stores with a canning section will also carry it.
Im wanting to make some in bulk and in various colours to top soft serve..
Ive tried and taste was too sweet and couldnt get a yellow colour..
It’s super sweet Jasmyne so it’s difficult to do anything about that.
Can you add baking soda?
It’s the citric acid that really causes the reaction. I think baking soda wouldn’t taste as nice either. You’d have to use it very sparingly.
Super cute name, right? LOL
I’ve been looking for a simple recipe everywhere! Thank you so much.
Btw I’m Aussie too, aeroplane jelly worked better for me than the Woolworths brand and most others
Great feedback thank you Absycado. 😀
Hello i sure love this stuff i made it even for a school project i sure need to make it agian!!!!!😍😍😍
Fantastic Zita. What a fabulous idea to do for a school project. Fun and yum!
Please tell me.. i want to make sherbert.. but like 2kg of sherbert.. do you have a recipy for me please… Or do i just multiply the i grediants??
Absolutely just multiply all the ingredients. Sounds like you’ll be having a fun and fizzy time! Enjoy.
Thanks Kate (& Possum). This recipe is great using powdered, freeze dried fruit instead of sugar &/or crystals.
Blitz the freeze dried fruit in a food processor until it’s a powder. You could used a small blender. A mortar & pestle works well and can be good stress relief 🙂
Oh my gosh, that sounds AMAZING!!!!!!!
I’m keen to try it. Thank you so much Meg.
Has anyone tested this alternative? Is it successful? I would greatly prefer this ingredient.