Gelato is an Italian frozen treat that is very trendy among many people around the world, from its humble origins in Italy in 1600 by Italian chef Francesco Procopio Dei Coltelli, who was first to serve this delicious treat at his restaurant Café Procope.
To its global phenom status after spreading through Europe and later around the world. This treat that is as simple to create as it is to enjoy is delicious and enjoyable during the hot summer months.
Gelato chefs are astonished if their product is referred to as “Italian ice cream.” Because in fact, it’s not ice cream. It may look like ice cream and taste cold and creamy, but it differs in three key ways:
Firstly, it has less butterfat, and so, dieters can eat Gelato (in moderation, of course) without guilt.
Secondly, it’s thicker because it has no air in it, while a regular ice cream does. Ice cream manufacturers usually add air to double its size; however, it also loses a significant percentage of its flavor when that happens. With Gelato, you get to enjoy the full flavor of what you are eating. Its taste is said to be so rich that you can still feel it in your throat.
Thirdly, Gelato is served warmer than ice cream, which also helps the flavor profile and also makes it melt faster. The bottom line, Gelato, is lower in fat and more flavorful than ice cream.
In this article, we will learn every historical fun-facts about Gelato, a couple of trivial pointers, a brief of famous Gelato products around the world, and all the pointers on how it can be considered a better dessert than ice-cream (no offence, ice-cream lovers)!
Origin and History of Gelato
While Gelato is actually the Italian word for ice cream and has its origins from Italy, however, its history dates back to ancient Rome and Egypt and later the Chinese.
About 3000 years ago, the Chinese Emperor used to send a contingent of soldiers to the Himalayas to collect snow and bring it back to the royal court. King Tang of Shang had 94 ice men who were responsible for making a frozen treat for the king by getting snow from the mountain tops, which was brought down and preserved below ground.
And in about 200 AD, a mixture of milk and rice was frozen by packing it into the snow for the Emperor.
Roman Emperors used to send slaves to the mountain tops to collect fresh snow, which was then flavored to create a frozen treat. Emperor Nero, who is famously known for fiddling as Rome was burning, is also known as a big Gelato fan.
The Frozen treat was first recorded as a dessert in the Persian Empire. During that period, fruit concentrates were poured onto the snow and then eaten. The Arabs did the addition of milk to the frozen dessert in the 10th century.
In the 11th century, the Arabs were also known to have created Shrb, a type of Sugar Syrup, which was mostly the predecessor of the Sorbet. (Sorbet being the sister version of the Gelato, which uses water instead of milk.)
Modern Gelato history started in the Renaissance period when Cosimo Ruggeri, an alchemist for the Medici family is credited with creating the first Gelato flavor. Another famous architect Bernardo Buontalenti created the Gelato Alla Crema D’uovo, an Egg Cream Gelato.
The first marketers of Gelato in Italy were Francesco Redi and Lorenzo Magalotti, who were some of the top opera singers at the time. They helped make Gelato even more famous by adding it to their songs and shows.
The frozen dessert once again resurfaced in history books when Catherine de Medici of Florence took an interest in the dessert. The first recipes for the dessert began in France when Catherine de Medici brought the method with her from Italy. It is believed that Catherine, in her marriage to the future king Henri II of France, brought with her an entourage of Italian chefs who eventually taught the French how to make the treat.
Legend has it that former chicken farmer turned dessert chef Ruggerio was personally responsible for introducing the French to the dessert as he dazzled many of the guests with different flavors daily in the wedding celebration that lasted a month.
It is believed that Charles I, the King of England at the time, paid his chef £500 annually to keep his recipe secret from the rest of the country.
Filippo Baldini, who was a 19th-century doctor, is also known as the top medical scientist on the treat when he touted its and Sorbet’s health benefits, which he researched and extensively wrote about. Some of this research and findings are still validated to this day.
Over time, interest in the dessert widened until in the 1920s when the first gelato cart was developed. As time passed, the dessert became increasingly popular in all parts of the world.
Soon after, variations of the desert surfaced, which includes mixing in different fruits with the dessert. The dessert then spread all around the globe and was widely favored by people as the dessert of choice during events and gatherings.
Some Historical Trivia About Gelato
With its rich tradition and history, it is no wonder that the Gelato has a colorful past that we would love to share with you in this article today.
- While the modern Gelato has Italians origins as in chef Francesco is Italian, the current iteration of the frozen treat comes from was actually invented in France as his Café Procope, where he first started serving the frozen treat was actually in Paris.
- His iteration led him to get French citizenship and an exclusive royal license from the Sun King Louis XIV, which made him the sole producer and supplier of Gelato in the kingdom.
- Gelato actually comes from this Italian word Congelato which actually translates to the frozen in English.
- Gelato can be from just milk and sugar. Similarly, it starts with a base of 3.25% milk and added sugar. Moreover, this makes it lower in fat than the other similar styles of frozen ice-creams and desserts.
- Gelato usually will contain 70% less air and much more flavor and richness than the other flavors, which makes it unique and a tasty treat in addition to being healthier in comparison.
- In Italy, Gelato is treated with a more personal touch in its production and serving as chefs always tend to put their own spin on the desert. Similarly, with over 5000 Italian ice-cream parlors that employ over 15,000 people, the desert has a 55% market share from these individual artisan flavors than the mass-produced ones found in supermarkets.
- You could visit each of these 5000 gelaterie and never have the same flavor. By comparison with 365 days in a year, it means that it would take you 13 years of daily gelato taste to enjoy the same flavor twice.
- The Americans commercial preparation of gelati adds sweeteners like sucrose, dextrose, or inverted sugar; furthermore, they also add a stabilizer such as guar gum.
- Gelato may be the Italian word for Ice Cream; however, the frozen treat that bears the name Gelato is not actually Ice cream.
- Sorbetto is the other variant of Gelato that uses water instead of milk in its creation, and it is mainly found in the southern part of Italy.
Gelato Flavors You Can Have Fun With!
The traditional flavors of Gelato include some of the most sought after treats like Vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio, custard, stracciatella, and Fior di latte. Moreover, other top flavors include fruity flavors like raspberry, strawberry, apple, lemon, and pineapple.
However, as we stated earlier, this amazing treat can be woven into many different flavors, including the ones below that we have personally prepared for our frozen treats wanting palettes.
- Banana Gelato
- Caramel Gelato
- Cherry Ripe Gelato
- Choc Chip Gelato
- Choc Mint Gelato
- Coconut Gelato
- Coffee Gelato
- Cookies and Cream Gelato
- Crunchie Gelato
- Dark Chocolate Gelato
- Ferrero Rocher Gelato
- Hazelnut Gelato
- Honey Gelato
- Mango Gelato
- Mars Bar Gelato
- Milk Chocolate Gelato
- Nutella Gelato
- Peanut Butter Gelato
- Pistachio Gelato
- Strawberry Gelato
- Vanilla Gelato
- White Chocolate Gelato
Gelato and Ice Cream – We Are Not The Same Bro!
Many people do not bother about the trivial things in life as long as they get what they want. For example, many people purchase bread based on what they look like, not based on their name.
Although people can go on living without knowing these trivial things, they miss out on a lot of information and knowledge. I want to take the time to compare these two kinds of desserts – ice cream and Gelato because they are often confused with each other.
Both of these desserts are commonly called ice cream because of their similarity in appearance. However, they have a lot of differences, especially in their taste value. So, let us delve into some eye-opening and “happy realization” moment, especially for ice-cream lovers!
Gelato VS Ice Cream – Taste, Constituents, and Effects!
Gelato focuses more on making the dessert taste like its partnered fruit rather than a sweet, confectionery treat. On the other hand, the taste of ice cream comes from mixing the milk, the main ingredient, sugar, and fat. This results in a delightful taste with a mild emphasis on the main ingredient’s flavor. The difference in taste stems from three factors that vary between each dessert.
The first factor is fat. Ice cream has more fat than Gelato, resulting in a sweeter taste. This fat comes from certain ingredients such as cream, which are added to the dessert to make them more flavorful.
Gelato has less fat than ice cream because it uses more milk rather than a cream. The second factor is the air. Air refers to the churning process in which the dessert is exposed to for some time. Gelato is usually churned much slower than regular ice cream, which results in its thick texture and more intense flavor. The third factor is temperature.
Although both of these desserts are classified as frozen treats, they have different storage temperatures. Ice cream is stored at a lower temperature than Gelato, resulting in a more solid texture.
Ingredients Look The Same but Is it Really??
The ingredients for both Gelato and ice cream are necessarily the same. However, differences in the ratio of these ingredients result in a different taste between these two desserts. Milk happens to be one of the staple ingredients in these desserts and is present in all variations of the desserts. Gelato has more milk content than ice cream, which gives it a more robust flavor. This can be attributed to the milk bringing out the taste of the main ingredient. The cream is another ingredient that is present in all variations of this dessert.
In terms of cream, ice cream has a higher cream content and therefore, also has a higher fat content. More cream means that the taste of the main ingredient in ice cream is masked.
On the other hand, the sweetness of the dessert is enhanced with the taste of the main ingredient coming in as a secondary taste. The 3rd ingredient that is important for ice cream and Gelato is the main ingredient.
In terms of the main ingredient, ice cream has more choices since the taste of the central part only comes in later. Gelato only has fewer main components because some of the flavors are way too intense to be used as the main ingredient(s) for it.
Even Additional Flavorings and Toppings Are Different in Both!
Gelato is frequently eaten plain and the main ingredient is the key in it. For flavors that are a combination of several main ingredients, a sprinkle of sugar or sweetener is added so that the taste is not too overwhelming. Ice cream, on the other hand, can be eaten with additional toppings.
The toppings include marshmallows, candy sprinkles, syrups, and many other choices. Mostly, these toppings further mask out the flavor of the main ingredient and enhance the sweetness of the desert. One of the latest toppings that were released to the public is known as the “shell” syrup, which when poured on the ice cream, hardens into a shell that covers the area on which it is poured. This does not affect the taste of the ice cream and is merely for aesthetic purposes.
When it comes to Health and Nutrition, Gelato Takes the Cake!
Both of these desserts are not advised to be eaten daily because they contain a lot of calories and sugars. Comparing these desserts, it is evident that ice cream poses more health risks than Gelato. The higher fat content and sugar content on ice cream makes the dessert a hazard when consumed in large amounts.
Also, additional toppings and flavorings can bring these values higher. A serving of ice cream complete with toppings is equal to half of a full meal in calories.
Some ice cream and gelato brands compensate by releasing sugar-free variations of their desserts. This helps tremendously in reducing the sugar content and calories in the pudding. The only setback is that the dessert will not taste as good.
The Way You Serve A Gelato VS Ice Cream…
One of the most common differences between Gelato and ice cream is in its serving. Ice cream is primarily served using the scoop format with a scooping spoon while Gelato is served with a paddle.
The Popular Artisan Gelaterie VS Industrial Gelato!
In Italy, the Artisan Gelaterie (Gelato parlors) represents 55% of the market compared to the commercial suppliers, and with over 5000 locations, you have genuinely unique flavors that are loved by many. Below are some of the reasons why Gelaterie is so trendy in Italy and around the globe.
This type of frozen treat is formed using very fresh raw materials. Similarly compared to industrial ice cream, there are some substantial differences:
- There is less fat, about 6% compared to 8% of the industrial one.
- Less air about 35% versus 70%
- Inside the artisan Gelato, the ingredient that makes it robust is milk that represents about 60% of the product, then there are sugars about 14% and then cream.
- Often the milk used is low and powdered. This is very important to maintain the structure of the Gelato.
- The artisanal Gelato, in addition to having high-quality products, must have the right balance between all the ingredients.
- The basic mixture for all tastes must be pasteurized; this will make it safe and allow the perfect bond between solids and water, making the final product creamier.
- When you want to make artisan Gelato with water and fruit, otherwise known as Sorbet, milk is not usually used; many, however, are not able to make the Sorbet creamy and therefore use it anyway.
- In the production of a delicious artisan Gelato, you can also use the so-called compound ingredients. In essence, they are pre-mixes of all the components already prepared commercially, and all you have to do is add the water or milk and follow the recipes. Sometimes it is thought that the use of such products leads to a decrease in the genuineness of the Gelato, but if all the components are mixed well and are from a trusted source, you will avoid substances that you do not know.
- To date, all Italian Gelaterie use these bases to produce Gelato. This does not mean that the Gelato produced is without texture and personality or that wherever you go, the Gelato is always good or bad; these essential ingredients do not affect the final taste. What is necessary, in fact, is to create a quality Gelato with all the fresh ingredients.
- The artisan Gelaterie usually tries to reproduce for its customer the original Italian Gelato made with the same traditional techniques. Furthermore, the Gelato is traditionally made through a hot process, which takes longer: They will pasteurize milk and sugar base overnight, and then blend with the flavors in the morning. Moreover, they also use fresh milk with 35 percent less butterfat than ice cream, and that reduction in fat means more flavor. These Gelatos can be stored ideally in the freezer in Tupperware or, in this case, in an airtight plastic package for a salad that is clean. Although these ices can be stored for several weeks, their taste and smoothness are most magnificent over the first 15 days.
With Gelato – You’ve Got The perfect Dessert for Parties & Large Functions!
Gelato is perfect for all occasions; for example, after a party or barbecue, a little luxurious ice gelato for dessert after a meal could be the entire desert that you need. Because it is full of taste and promise for any business function as well, it is sometimes not necessary to buy a small one-person container. Still, instead, you can have a catering service create a large enough amount for a party or function.
Everyone loves Gelato as a desert and, by extension, ice cream, so it is a safe choice to consider for a large gathering even when a lot of the people are there for different functions.
Gelato has less than 35% less air content than typical ice cream and is dense and rich in taste. Besides, milk fat content is about half that of ordinary ice cream of 4-8%.
Moreover, for the health-conscious among us, it is a perfect dessert because of the relatively low calories. The only person who needs to worry about eating the Gelato dessert is those who are intolerant to the ingredients, like those who are milk intolerant or also those who have diabetes or on a sugar-free diet.
While those with diabetes can eat it, they need to be careful of the sugar content and add that into consideration when enjoying the treat.
Do You Know About ‘The Gelato Cart’?
The Gelato cart has now become synonymous with the frozen treat and but it did not come into being until the 1920s and 1930s. The cart was first used in the Italian city of Varese before the Second World War even though the history of the treat goes back to the 16th century and maybe even further.
German historian Joachim Fest in his famous “Eine italienische Reise,” which means ‘An Italian Journey’ in English, offers a fascinating story of a man he met in Syracuse, Sicily street in the early 1980s.
The echoes of his Gelati cart filled the squares, and he had kids running after him to get a taste of his frozen treats. His voice was rising up and down as he advertised his wares in the traditional Gelato frozen treat cart.
The exciting thing about it is that the cart, which started the Gelato trend 60 years before, had pretty much died down in the Italian streets as more and more Gelaterie are now brick and mortar stores.
Around the world, however, the Gelato cart has also become more of a novelty item for renting out only to special and catered events.
The Gelato cart is actually trendy in more significant events and can be seen more in wedding receptions than at the street corner.
Having said that, the Gelato cart is an excellent addition to these events, if for example, you are looking for something unique for your wedding, it will clearly make your day unforgettable.
The Gelato cart can also be easily customizable to dispense flavors that match the event, be it a white party or imagine matching the desert to the wedding cake or the other wedding colors?
The cart can also quickly become a prop for the event. For example, you can add the cart to a birthday party and have it decorated with the birthday colors, and you can also have it as part of the party with the gelaterie taking pictures with the guests at the party.
The Gelato cart is very versatile for any event that you can think of that requires a desert to the menu. It can be set up both outside and inside, and usually, it has an authentic feel to it than the regular ice cream.
Interestingly enough, the cart is still a significant draw for many people, and it is easy to set up, it is an excellent idea for any season treat, and it is a healthier alternative for any event compared to the regular ice cream.
Because the Gelato cart has been relegated to brick and mortar stores, it has been a bit forgotten by the catering scene. The Gelato treat is actually still trendy in both the US and around the world; however, during the catering process, it is usually the responsibility of the caterer to offer it, which could be the reason why its popularity as a catered item is waning.
The other alternative in such a case would be to hire the cart independently of the rest of the catering so your guests can enjoy it.
Last But Not The Least…
Gelato is that it is very versatile, and you can mostly create any flavor you can think of if you are making it at home. It is clearly edible with anything your imagination can come up with as long as it is not “too wild”. Personally, I have seen a wide range of flavors from veggies to pineapple, so basically, it’s you who has gotta decide the “wild” range for yourself.
Let us know what you think about this article, and which was your favorite fact among these! Keep creating yourself a yummy frozen treat, and stay in touch with Gelato Gourmet!