If you enjoy frozen desserts, you are not alone. The NPD Group, marketing specialists, has reported that in any two week period, nearly 40% of Americans will indulge in a frozen treat such as ice cream, gelato (gelato is the Italian word for ice cream) or frozen yogurt. It is no wonder that nearly 1.5 billion gallons of these desserts are made every year across the country.
If you are headed with your family out for a frozen treat, you may wonder about the difference between ice cream and gelato. They are made in a very similar process but there are subtle differences. The rate at which gelato is churned is much slower than when ice cream is being produced. This means it has a lot less air. Your typical gelato will have about 25 to 30% air whereas ice cream can have up to 50% air. Gelato tastes richer but has less fat. It typically has between 3 and 8% milkfat. It is also served at a warmer temperature so the texture can be softer and silkier.
Once you have decided to go for the gelato, these five tips will help make your experience spectacular:
- Check out the shape. As was mentioned, gelato is served at warmer temperatures than ice cream. This really brings out the different flavors and makes the experience richer and the flavors more vibrant. This means that the gelato may be closer to being a liquid than a solid and should be kept in cold metal bins. This means it is being handled correctly and will have the right flavor. If you get to the shop before anyone else, you should notice waves and other designs that the gelato maker put in the product. Enjoying gelato can be almost as much about the presentation as the taste, though the flavors are so great you may forget all about the presentation.
- The color of the gelato should match the flavor. When you walk into the gelateria, look at the pistachio and banana flavors. You want a gelateria whose products are made from the natural products. So, your pistachio should be green but not neon or lime or bright green. It should be more earthy, think of what pistachios look like. For your banana gelato, it should not be a yellow that can be seen from space but a gray/white. Think of what you bananas at home look like. If the colors are off, go someplace else.
- Make sure your gelato is made from authentic ingredients. Gelato is best when the flavors come from the real thing and not from artificial sources. If you see bags that have artificial flavorings in them, that is a bad sign for that gelateria. You can ask about the ingredients or just ask for some tasting spoons and let your taste buds tell you how real the ingredients and flavors are.
- Mix and match your flavors. Gelato can be either cream based or fruit based. While there are some purists out there who believe the two kinds of bases should never be combined, there are others who are less dogmatic about it. This is another reason it is a good idea to ask for a tasting spoon or two to get a sense of what flavors go well together. The strawberry and chocolate flavors and bases may work very well together. Ask what the people who work at the shop recommend. They know their product better than anyone.
- Go for the whipped cream. Whipped cream is great on ice cream and frozen yogurt but it is amazing on gelato. If you are going to treat yourself, you may as well go all of the way. The creamy whipped cream is a great complement to the rich, silky and smooth gelato flavors.
Gelato is actually an older dessert than ice cream. The two have a history that goes back thousands of years as people have almost always liked to have frozen treats. They probably seemed a lot more exotic before the advent of the new technology that makes freezing products commonplace. There are a few characteristics they do share and that is why people across the planet enjoy indulging in them as much as we do.