Standard or Philadelphia-style ice cream: Made primarily of cream, milk and sugar. To be labeled commercially as ice cream, it must contain at least 10 percent milk fat, with premium brands ranging to 16 percent.
French or custard-style ice cream: Standard ice cream with the addition of egg yolks, which produce a smooth texture even with relatively low levels of milk fat. Often has a thicker texture than standard ice cream.
Ice milk: Similar to ice cream but contains less than 10 percent milk fat. Reduced-fat, low-fat and nonfat are contemporary marketing labels for yesterday's ice milk; additives help keep ice crystals small. Soft serve is a type of ice milk (3 to 6 percent milk fat) with a high percentage of air pumped into it during freezing.
Gelato: The U.S. Department of Agriculture sets no standards for gelato, so milk-fat levels vary from brand to brand. In Italy, gelato may or may not contain eggs. Gelato makers often claim their product contains less air than ice cream.
Sorbet: A frozen, often fruit-based product containing no dairy, likely developed in France; tends to be dense with very little air. Sherbet is a sorbet with low levels of milk fat added.
Granita: A traditional Italian preparation frozen without stirring, then shaved, producing a crunchy crystalline texture.