Game of Cones
Raise your left hand if you prefer ice cream and raise your right hand if you prefer gelato. While I can't see the results of that little tally, Savannah's Candy Kitchen serves up BOTH delicious treats in all of our locations so everyone in your party is sure to find a sweet, cold treat that appeals to their preferences!
Whether you scream for ice cream or gelato, the differences between the two are not very well known. Today we are going to change that and educate you on what makes ice cream a light, fluffy treat and what makes gelato a dense, flavorful delicacy.
It all starts here, what actually makes up your favorite sweet treat? The two frozen treats actually contain very similar ingredients; in some recipes the ingredients are identical! How then are the two so different? American ice cream is typically made with milk, cream, sugar, and egg yolks. A little known fact, American's adopted the addition of egg yolks to ice cream from the French (The Kitchn). We were jealous of how rich the French version of ice cream was so the addition has become a staple in most ice cream recipes.
Gelato on the other hand rarely contains egg yolks, if they do it's typically to add additional flavor. In addition to the lack of egg yolks, gelato contains more milk and lower amounts of cream (therefore less butterfat) than ice cream. Both ice cream and gelato ingredients are cooked down into a rich custard, during this process the water and sugar form a syrup, which has a lower freezing temperature that is imperative to how the mixture will solidify.
The churning process also differs for these frozen treats. Ice cream is churned at a high speed to incorporate air and increase the volume of the ice cream. Gelato on the other hand is churned at a much slower speed. Gelato contains less cream so the mixture is inherently light. Don't let the lightness of the mixture deceive you; because less air is being added during the churning gelato becomes denser than ice cream. The amount of air that is incorporated into these treats is referred to as "overrun". Overrun refers to the amount of air pushed into the mixture while it is being churned. The more overrun that a particular ice cream or gelato contains the more air the final product will contain and the lighter the ice cream will be.
Freezing and Storing.
You know how above we said that the syrup mixture that was imperative to how the ice cream or gelato freezes? Yeah, be ready to have your mind blown! Did you know that while your ice cream or gelato is freezing, small crystals begin to form and the longer that your mixture takes to freeze the larger and in turn harder the crystals become? Well there are two components that affect how large the crystals become, one is the amount of cream and in turn butterfat is in the recipe.
Butterfat stops the small crystals from joining with other crystals and creating large, crunchy crystals. Another is the syrup; during the freezing process the syrup freezes at a slower rate than the surrounding water particles. The unfrozen portions become more concentrated and don't end up freezing! Crazy right? The unfrozen syrup creates an additional barrier that stops the crystals from getting too large. Storage of these two treats is also a large factor, gelato has the potential to become a hard, dense brick if you do not store it at a proper temperature. Gelato is stored about 7-10 degrees warmer than ice cream which contributes heavily to the soft, silky texture. The warmer storage and serving temperature works favorably for gelato, allowing you to taste the flavors more strongly because your senses are not numbed by the cold that ice cream typically creates. Another reason that gelatos flavors tend to come forward stronger is due to the decrease in cream (butterfat). The butterfat that is in ice cream tends to coat your palate and dulls the flavor, gelato contains less butterfat therefore your senses can experience everything the flavors have to offer.
Did you know that gelato is not to be served with an ice cream scoop? Gelato is supposed to be served with a tool called a spade (and no we are not referring to the gardening tool). A spade resembles an ice cream scoop melded with a spatula, creating a wide, slightly curved surface that allows the gelato to be formed and molded into soft waves.
Now that we know the technical business behind gelato vs. ice cream, what makes Savannah's Candy Kitchen's versions so special? For starters each of our stores makes their own ice cream and gelato in house! Our customers are guaranteed to get the freshest ice cream or gelato, which sets our product apart from most of our competitors. Each of our stores serves at least 12 flavors of ice cream and 12 flavors of gelato! Our Nashville location takes this to another level with 36 total flavors, 16 are ice cream and 16 are gelato and the remaining four are either seasonal flavors or sorbet, depending on the day. We take pride in the presentation of our frozen treats, each morning our ice cream and gelatos in the case are topped with fresh fruit and other accommodating toppings. Customers can also enjoy hand dipped chocolate cones and if that isn't enough to convince you to give our frozen treats a try, we also hand make our own waffle cones everyday!
In the end I believe that Max Falkowitz said it best for SeriousEats.com, "All these differences give gelato has a dense and milky texture, less creamy than ice cream. It's not thin, but it lacks the plush, buttery fullness of its American cousin. Some say that gelato has a more intense flavor than ice cream, since it has less of the tongue coating cold fat that gets in the way of tasting things. But I think it's more accurate to say that gelato's flavors come through direct, hard, and fast, then melt away clean. A good, flavorful ice cream can have just as intense a flavor, but you'll taste it differently. One isn't necessarily more flavorful than the other."
Some quick facts from The Kitchn to summarize the main differences in your favorite frozen treats:
- Ice Cream – contains at least 10% milk fat and "premium" has 13-17% milk fat
- French Ice Cream – contains eggs and is cooked first like a custard
- Gelato – has less air whipped into it, more milk, less eggs and cream
- Sherbet – more sugar, less fat, and typically flavored with fruit
- Sorbet – the same as sherbet without the dairy