Ice Cream or Gelato? What’s the Difference?

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Americans love frozen deserts. More than 90% of households in the United States enjoy having a frozen desert on a regular basis. The typical American eats ice cream about 28.5 times every year. Nearly 40% of all Americans will eat ice cream at least once in any two week period of time. If you are going for a treat, you have to decide, do you want ice cream or gelato cups?

Ice cream and gelato are very similar. Some people assume that because gelato is the Italian word for ice cream that they are the same things but they are not. Gelato has a soft and smooth texture. It has a cleaner taste than that of its American counterpart, ice cream. Ice cream is heavier and richer in its texture and flavor. There are three factors that make the two different. Gelato is served at a warmer temperature. There are also differences in the amount of air, sugar and fat that are found in both frozen treats.

To really understand why ice cream cups taste so different from gelato cups, you need to understand how they are made. At the end of the day, the main ingredient in ice cream is water. When water freezes, the result is the formation of ice crystals. These are crunchy. When ice cream manufacturers do their magic, their main goal is to limit this. They want to keep the crystals as small as possible.

The milk or cream is emulsified in the ice cream making process. This allows it to actually get between the water molecules to prevent the formation of ice crystals.

They add air during the churning process to create a product that is less dense and is fluffier. This also discourages the formation of the ice crystals.

They add sugar. Sugar can be very effective at preventing ice crystals from forming. The syrup that forms when sugar and water are mixed freezes at a lower temperature than water freezes on its own. As sugar is added, the freezing point drops lower and lower.

When ice cream is made, it is churned very quickly. This has the effect of introducing more and more air into the product. The process of whipping so much air into the cream mixture is called overrun. Higher end ice cream brands can have an over run that is around 25%. Less expensive brands of ice cream can have overruns of between 50 and 90%. These are the ice cream brands that are sold at most super markets and grocery stores around the country. They are thin, melt quickly and are light. They also have less flavor than the higher end ice creams. That makes sense, given the amount of air in them.

Ice cream has more cream than gelato, which has more of a milk base. That means ice cream has more fat in it. Its fat content is generally above 10%. Gelato, by contrast, is made with a churning process that is much slower. Gelato has a lot less air. Gelato cups will melt a lot slower but the real difference is that gelato has a much richer flavor. If you have chocolate gelato cups, you are really going to taste the chocolate. Gelato is also a lot more dense than ice cream, again due to the fact that there is less air. It is also less creamy than ice cream but that is because it has less fat in it.

The flavor of gelato is usually a lot more intense. The fat in ice cream actually prevents people from being able to taste it as well because it covers the tongue. On the other hand, gelato’s flavor hits the tongue with a burst. When it melts, it leaves the mouth with a clean taste and feeling. Gelato cups are served at a higher temperature than ice cream. Often when gelato is made, it is frozen to be very hard. When it warms up and starts to melt, it arrives at the perfect consistency.

Gelato and ice cream have a long, fun and interesting history. Frozen desserts have been with us for thousands of years. Gelato and ice cream may be very different in the way they are made but both are really, very delicious.


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