Gelato, the Italian word for “frozen” is the name given to an ice cream-like frozen dessert composed mainly of milk, sugar, cream, and whatever ingredients the gelato is flavored with. This can be anything from fruit to chocolate, or more recently some less traditional flavors such as tiramisu or even bubblegum. Although commonly confused with what most of us consider American ice cream, gelato is not to be mistaken for its “American” counterpart. The history of gelato dates back to the 16th century, where some believe that it was first created by Bernardo Buontalenti in Florence. Gelato did not become popular however, until the Sicilian Procopia dei Coltelli began selling it publicly when he opened a café in France.
Manufacturers add air to their ice cream after it is produced to make it lighter and fluffier than gelato, unfortunately, this also cuts back on the taste of ice cream. Gelato has very little air, which accounts for its richness in flavor.
While the gelato of northern Italy was produced using dairy products, the gelato of the hotter southern parts was traditionally produced using water and fruit. This came to be known as sorbetto, or sorbet.
Gelato requires a special freezer in order to maintain its creamy consistency since it is typically kept between 0°-6° Fahrenheit, about 10 degrees warmer than ice cream.
Gelato, although creamier and more flavorful than American ice cream actually has fewer calories and much less butter fat than ice cream. So have some gelato this without having to worry about packing on extra pounds!