- Arts & Literature
- Science & Technology
By James McKean
The Italians call ice cream gelato so, therefore, it is only natural that any self-respecting cosmopolitan ice cream parlour outside Italia assume the label ‘gelateria’. But, if you thought that ice cream and gelato were one and the same thing, think again.
As an Italo-Scot, I can confirm that what I get upon requesting a gelato in Rome is entirely different to the food substance I receive from an ice cream vendor in Edinburgh (admittedly on those rare days of Scottish sunshine!)
I’m afraid to say that I have to go somewhat scientific on you. Indeed, it is the milk-fat ratio, that most obviously distinguishes una palla di gelato from a scoop of ice cream. Any product labelled ‘ice cream’ must comprise at least 10 percent milk fat (most premium ice creams have a milk-fat content between 14 and 17 percent) in comparison to the humble gelato, which contains just 3 to 10 percent.
However, don’t expect to enjoy a gelato-like substance simply by reducing your ice cream’s milk-fat content. Gelato is also churned at a far slower speed than its Anglicised cousin. As a result, gelato is denser because not as much air is whipped into the mixture. In fact, gelato contains about 25 to 30 percent air in comparison to ice cream which can contain as much as 50 percent.
Finally, it’s a question of ambience. No, it doesn’t matter whether you’re scoffing a tub of Ben & Jerry’s on the couch or indulging in a scoop whilst sat in a premium ice cream parlour, what matters is the ambience of the food substance – whereas ice cream should be served frozen, gelato, despite ironically being the Italian word for ‘frozen’, is stored at a slightly higher temperature.
Right, now to treat myself to an ice cream, or should that be un gelato? On second thoughts, I fancy a frozen yoghurt…