YOU SAY GELATO...
It didn’t used to be this way.
Gelato was ice cream and ice cream was gelato. After all, gelato is just the Italian word for ice cream.
Then after the world wars, things began to change in the UK. Ingredients were rationed, so ice cream makers improvised with vegetable fats and cheap ingredients. People were so relieved to be able to treat themselves to an ice cream again, they didn’t care.
So the ice cream makers got greedy. They used even cheaper ingredients – artificial flavourings and colourings, heat treated sugars, you name it, it went into ice cream.
I SAY GELATO
Today in the UK, even the premium ranges aren’t very premium. Whole generations have grown up, not even knowing how ice cream is supposed to taste.
Unless, you’ve been to Italy.
Italian style ice cream is better than the ice cream you find in the UK. So much better, in fact, that it’s like a completely different thing.
To differentiate, we now call Italian style ice cream – you’ve guessed it – gelato!
And whether you’ve been to Italy or not, we think everyone should learn the difference between mere ice cream and proper gelato!
SO WHAT IS GELATO?
MILK & CREAM
The two main ingredients in both ice cream and gelato are milk and cream. However, it’s the ratio in each which differs.
People often comment that gelato is so much more velvety and creamier than ice cream. This suggests that gelato contains lots of cream, however, the opposite is true. Gelato contains more milk, and ice cream (as the name suggests) contains more cream.
However, as cream is generally expensive, ice cream makers started supplementing it with cheap fats and hydrogenated vegetable oils instead.
(AND SYNTHETIC SUBSTITUTES)
Ice cream has them, gelato generally doesn’t.
Technically, ice creams that use eggs are a frozen custard. The reason that gelato doesn’t use eggs is because of the taste it imparts. It overpowers other flavours and makes the base too stodgy.
However, if you’re an ice cream maker with an eye on the profits, there’s a good reason for using eggs and synthetic substitutes in your base mix!
It’s not just the ingredients that are different between ice cream and gelato. It’s the way that they are made.
Both ice cream and gelato need to be churned as it is frozen, otherwise you would end up with a solid block.
Greedy ice cream makers soon realised that if they churned their ice cream faster, they could whip more air into the mix. The reason that eggs, synthetic substitutes and fats are added to ice cream is to stabilise the mix, so that more air can be added – like a soufflé. Some ice creams brands now contain as much as 200% air. It’s why you can eat a huge bowl full of the stuff and not feel full up.
Gelato is churned much more slowly than ice cream and, as a result, only has about 25% air. This is why gelato feels denser and more velvety than ice cream.
The third difference of ice cream and gelato is in the flavours.
Ice cream contains lots of fat, and this fat coats the tongue creating a layer between your tastebuds and the flavours in the ice cream. Couple this layer of fat with the high amount of air in ice cream and you can see why many ice cream makers use artificial flavours. Natural flavours would get lost.
Gelato doesn’t have this problem. Gelato makers can use fresh, natural ingredients and all of those subtle flavours are allowed to shine.