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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gelato—An Italian Specialty

Gelato is the Italian regional version of what most know as ice cream. It consists of most of the ingredients in other frozen dairy dessert products, such as milk, cream, sugars, fruit and nut purées. The difference between gelato and other ice creams is the fact that it has lower butterfat content and slightly lower sugar content. The sugar content is perfectly balanced with the water content to ensure that the gelato won't freeze solid, retaining that creamy smoothness. In custard based gelato flavors, such as crème caramel, egg yolks are sometimes used.
   Typically, the mixture for gelato is made using a hot process, including pasteurization. After pasteurization is complete, the gelato mix must age for several hours to allow the milk proteins to hydrate with the water in the mix. The hydration reduces the size of the ice crystals, creating a smoother texture in the final product.
   Unlike its cousin, the commercial ice creams of the United States, gelato isn't frozen with a continuous assembly line freezer. Instead, it is quickly frozen in small individual batches in a batch freezer. The batch freezer incorporates air (a.k.a. overage) into the gelato mix as it freezes. Gelato also has a lower overage percentage than American ice creams. The overage percentage varies between 20% and 35% whereas American ice creams have an overage of up to 50%. The resulting flavor is more intense than any American ice creams. Although the American ice creams generally have a high fat content, thus allowing it to stay in the freezer for months, high quality artisan gelato normally holds its peak texture and flavor for only several days, despite careful storage and heating procedures.
   The history of the dessert probably dates back to ancient Rome and Egypt, where they would bring down snow from the high mountain tops to make desserts from. Later, the dessert appeared in the Medici courts in Florence, Italy. It is said that the Florentine cook Bernardo Buontalenti invented modern ice creams in 1565 since he presented his recipe and cutting edge refrigerating techniques to Caterina de’ Medici who brought the creation to France where, in 1686, the Sicilian fisherman Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli created the first ice cream machine.

1 comment:

  1. So gelato is healthier than ice cream, relatively speaking of course...?




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