Last weekend, my wife and I were feeling in the mood for a cool treat. Typically, we have our favorite ice cream spot (Graeter’s), but this time my wife asked if I wanted to try out a new gelato store in town. I was interested in trying it, but I also wondered is there a difference between gelato and ice cream? Is gelato just a fancy or Italian word for ice cream where they get to charge you more?
Well, after some digging, I found out that the main differences between gelato and Ice Cream is that gelato contains a higher percentage of milk, a lower percentage of creamy ingredients (ie eggs) and is served at a warmer temperature. Gelato also tends to be denser as it has less air whipped in during the churning process.
Ingredients of Ice Cream vs. Gelato
As far as ingredients go, both gelato and ice cream include cream, milk, and sugar. It is also common that ice cream uses egg yolks in the recipe, but generally gelato avoids using egg yolks. When it comes to proportions of ingredients, gelato usually uses less cream and milk (less creamy).
Serving Temperature of Gelato and Ice Cream
There are some differences in both style and temperature when serving gelato and ice cream. For starters, ice cream is served by the scoop and gelato is served with a spade. From a temperature perspective, gelato is served between 10 and 15 degrees warmer than ice cream. This warmer temperature is designed to allow you to taste the flavors more richly.
Is Gelato Better for you than Ice Cream?
The lower quantities of certain ingredients in gelato lead to a product that has less fat than ice cream. Many ice creams will result in about 15% milkfat. This compares to around 5% milkfat in gelato. Lower fat is desirable to the diet, and it also can help bring bold flavors forward that are often masked by cream in ice cream.
In addition to lower fat from milk instead of cream, gelato also predominately avoids the use of egg yolks. The combination creates a product that averages around 90 calories in a serving of gelato vs. 125 calories in a similar sized scoop of gelato.
How are Gelato and Ice Cream Churned?
In their creation, both gelato and ice cream are churned. That said, gelato is churned at a slower speed than ice cream. This slow speed creates less air in gelato than in ice cream, creating a much denser product.
Does Gelato Taste like Ice Cream?
Gelato and ice cream tend to have similarities in both ingredients and texture, but you will also notice some slight flavor differences.
Let’s begin with a mouthfeel. As we mentioned, gelato tends to be served at warmer temperatures. This colder ice cream causes a different amount of “chewing” for the colder and more frozen product. This also creates less intense flavors for gelato than ice cream. So outside of temperature and intensity of flavors, both gelato and ice cream will have a similar taste.