What is Italian Ice cream?
Many people consider that gelato is just the Italian word for italian ice cream but
this is not so. There is a significant difference between the two, particularly compared to the world famous, creamy, American version. The word gelato in Italian is a shortened version of the word ‘congelato’ which literally means ‘frozen’.
In simple terms, here are the differences between italian ice cream and gelato:
1) Fat content: italian Ice cream is made with cream, some whole milk and quite often egg yolks and has a minimum (legal requirement) of 10% fat. The fat content is usually much higher, particularly with ice creams made at home. Gelato uses whole milk, less or no cream, egg yolks are rarely used and it usually has a fat content of between 5% and 7%.
2) Air and churning: ice cream is churned fast and hard in order to whip in plenty of air which is called overrun, or in other words, the percentage of volume which has been added to the original mixture. This is simple to do with ice cream
as the high fat content of the cream makes it easy to whip. The better, more expensive ice creams have an overrun of around 25% whereas the cheaper, commercial ones generally have an overrun of 50% or more and really cheap ice cream can have up to 90%. Gelato is not able to be whipped in this manner due to the lower fat, higher milk content and is therefore churned at a slower, gentler rate so very little air is pumped into it. This means that gelato is denser, less creamy and has a softer, elastic texture than ice cream.
3) Temperature; italian ice cream is kept and served at around -12°C (10°F) and begins to melt as soon as it gets warmer than this. Gelato, with less fat and less air is able to be served at the higher temperature of -6° to -3°C (20° to 25°F).